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Wizarding Worlds: Inside the Harry Potter Theme Parks, Exhibitions, and Studio Tours Paperback – October 13, 2017
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In this carefully researched work, Silvester reveals the rigorous, yet whimsical apprehension of detail that has gone into forming these worlds. Matching this sensibility, Silvester seamlessly shifts from specifics about the theme park wizarding worlds to the histories, legacies, and lineages the permeate the seven Potter books and Rowling’s ancillary writings. He’s willing to play with the reader as he mixes fun facts with occasional subversive embraces of Rowling’s fantastical creations. Describing the Wizarding World at Orlando’s Island of Adventure, he puckishly explains, “Placing a small train station in Hogsmeade as a terminus was a simple affair, as the village was already protected by concealment spells to shield Muggle eyes.”
In his meticulous descriptions of Orlando’s Wizarding Worlds at Hogsmeade/Hogwarts and London/Diagon Alley, he offers all types of fascinating nuggets from Kreacher peeking out of the window every few minutes at 12 Grimmauld Place to Rowling writing Bill Weasley’s speech at the end of the Escape from Gringotts ride. The accumulation of details offered in Wizarding Worlds adds up to something larger, an understanding of what continues to drive the extraordinary success of this franchise.
As Silvester points out in an early chapter, Harry Potter the Exhibition has been traveling around the globe since 2008 giving visitors glimpses of various rooms with potions, marauder’s maps, howlers, and talking portraits – there’s even an opportunity to lift a screeching mandrake root from a pot. The fact that the Exhibition’s run is at least until 2020 and that four more Fantastic Beasts films are in the offing to refresh the franchise hints to the scope and scale of this operation. But so much more is transpiring, and Silvester is impressively up-to-the-minute as far as his news, particularly his description of the newly opened (two weeks ago) exhibit at the British Museum: Harry Potter and the History of Magic, which is replete with medieval illustrations and artifacts of alchemists, witches’ cauldrons, and dragons.
Then, there is the massive Wizarding World slated to open in Beijing in 2019. As Silvester explains in the closing of this fine book, “There does not seem to be an end in sight to people’s fascination with the magical world of Harry Potter and it will be left to subsequent editions of Wizarding Worlds to tell the rest of the story behind the Universal theme parks around the world.”
I look forward to reading those future editions as Silvester has really established an impressive record here of how Harry Potter has moved from a literary marvel to something that is becoming so culturally enshrined on international levels that it is rapidly evolving from a phenomenon situated in our times to one for the ages.