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Harry Potter’s Wizarding World through an Anthropologist’s Eye

Dr. K writes blog that looks at popular culture through the twin lens of fandom and an anthropological eye. A four part analysis of Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure Wizarding World of Harry Potter themed district is definitely a new take on what I’ve read before. In parts three and four the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey ride and queue is dissected. The author is very familiar with the Harry Potter world and has some very valid points.

Narrative continuity is not a strong point of this place but this is bordering on the absurd. You are instructed to go the Room of Requirement (and suddenlyt Ron makes it snow. Huh?) in order to sneak out of the castle. At this point, it became clear that they should have forgotten the millions of dollars they spent filming the movie actors to create this walkthrough. It makes no sense at all. Further along the way there is also a Gryffindor Common Room (furniture against one wall) and a portrait of the Fat Lady that is one of the better effects but she is not at the entrance to the common room.

In fact, while I can’t find fault with many of the points made, I have to think that the larger point was missed. The criticism comes from some idea that an ideal version of the Harry Potter world exists somewhere and that this was supposed to imitate it exactly. The reality is that this is a theme park with certain limitations and expectations that are agreed upon by the visiting audience. 100% fidelity is not required to let yourself go and find yourself in the world of Harry Potter, it just has to be close enough.

If you like this sort of analysis, I also recommend Henry Jenkins’ blog.