Harry Potter Theme Park


I deeply and bitterly resent that Orlando is about to become the official place of pilgrimage for every Harry Potter fan on earth


You know, sometimes I don’t understand what’s wrong with us. This is just about the most creative and imaginative country on earth – and yet sometimes we just don’t seem to have the gumption to exploit our intellectual property. We split the atom, and now we have to get French or Korean scientists to help us build nuclear power stations. We perfected the finest cars on earth – and now Rolls-Royce is in the hands of the Germans. Whatever we invent, from the jet engine to the internet, we find that someone else carts it off and makes a killing from it elsewhere. And now, in the crowning insult, I am being told by a 12-year-old that I have to start making preparations to take everyone to Orlando, Florida.

I want you to know that I have nothing against Orlando, though you are, of course, far more likely to get shot or robbed there than in London. In general I adore America. But I deeply and bitterly resent that Orlando is about to become the official place of pilgrimage for every Harry Potter fan on earth. On the 18th of this month they are unveiling a vast 20-acre attraction – a theme park – that will be called The Wizarding World of Harry Pottere_STmk, and the word in the industry is that it is gonna be huge. There will be animatronic whomping willows and exhilarating interactive quidditch-style rides, and vast latex-covered Hagrids rolling bonhomiously down the street.

In the words of Mr Thierry Coup of Warner Bros: “We are taking the most iconic and powerful moments of the stories and putting them in an immersive environment. It is taking the theme park experience to a new level.” And of course I wish Thierry and his colleagues every possible luck, and I am sure it will be wonderful. But I cannot conceal my feelings; and the more I think of those millions of beaming kids waving their wands and scampering the Styrofoam turrets of Hogwartse_STmk, and the more I think of those millions of poor put-upon parents who must now pay to fly to Orlando and pay to buy wizard hats and wizard cloaks and wizard burgers washed down with wizard meade(TM), the more I grind my teeth in jealous irritation.

Because the fact is that Harry Potter is not American. He is British. Where is Diagon Alley, where they buy wands and stuff? It is in London, and if you want to get into the Ministry of Magic you disappear down a London telephone box. The train for Hogwarts goes from King’s Cross, not Grand Central Station, and what is Harry Potter all about? It is about the ritual and intrigue and dorm-feast excitement of a British boarding school of a kind that you just don’t find in America. Hogwarts is a place where children occasionally get cross with each other – not “mad” – and where the situation is usually saved by a good old British sense of HUMOUR. WITH A U. RIGHT? NOT HUMOR. GOTTIT?

I know that Thierry and everyone at Warner Bros and Universal will do a magnificent job of making it look and feel authentic and faithful to the stories. But I know somewhere that’s even better than Orlando at looking like London – and that is London. I want to know why this Kingdom of Potter is not being built in the UK, and I won’t be fobbed off with any nonsense about the weather. They built Eurodisney in the Valley of the Marne, where it is at least as cold and drizzly as it is in London – and it has been a triumphant success.

Don’t tell me that this is a fad, that Harry Potter won’t last much beyond the last film. Like everyone else, I have watched with utter amazement as my children have been sucked into J K Rowling’s world. I have listened to them babble about the detail, the clues and suggestions that become ever richer with re-reading, the emotions evoked and the deep satisfaction that these books evidently give.

I have before me a copy as thumbed and dog-eared as a missionary’s Bible, and in case you think I am exaggerating, or extrapolating too generously from my own experience, let me give you the key figures.

Never mind the movies, which have now taken about $5.3 billion and which must be among the biggest global cinematic successes of all time. Just look at the sales figures for J K Rowling, the girl from Gloucestershire who famously began her literary career scribbling at a table in a café in Edinburgh.

No, wait: let’s look at her rivals. Take Beatrix Potter, who has been selling like hot cakes around the world for more than a century. She has sold 60 million. Or take Enid Blyton, with dozens of titles to her name, including the blockbusting series about Noddy. She has done about 100 million, and the same goes for the great Dr Seuss, who also has a vast number of books still on the shelves. We are still nowhere near the summit of J K Rowling’s figures. You have to go past the best-selling comic books of all time – Tintin on 160 million and Asterix on 250 million and still she towers over the literary landscape.

The seven Harry Potter books have together sold about 400 million copies, in 67 languages. There is nothing like it in history. Think of the cumulative impact on the imaginations of the younger generation of today – and those young people will be reading Harry Potter to their own children tomorrow.

My point is that this Potter business has legs. It will run and run, and we must be utterly mad, as a country, to leave it to the Americans to make money from a great British invention. I appeal to the children of this country and to their Potter-fiend parents to write to Warner Bros and Universal, and perhaps, even, to the great J K herself. Bring Harry home to Britain – and if you want a site with less rainfall than Rome, with excellent public transport, and strong connections to Harry Potter, I have just the place.

This article can be found along with other latest news in The Daily Telegraph here

35 thoughts on “Harry Potter Theme Park”

  1. Whatever we invent, from the jet engine to the internet, we find that someone else carts it off and makes a killing from it elsewhere Boris

    Yes, because you let go of all the brains, but instead open doors to all non skilled workers!!!

  2. I might be totally out of fashion but I am not gripped by the Potter phenomenon. I far prefer real life historical books such as Alison Weir’s ones and in particular her latest “The Lady in the Tower” about the few months spanning the downfall of Anne Boleyn. Fast page-turning, enthralling – and real.

  3. “This is just about the most creative and imaginative country on earth – and yet sometimes we just don’t seem to have the gumption to exploit our intellectual property.”

    Or if you do, the implementation goes all wrong. Have you BEEN to Dickens World? I have and the word ‘disappointing’ is a vast understatement. That said – ugh, Orlando. Only minimally less hideous a destination than say – Ft. Lauderdale.

    Listen up, Boris old thing – you aren’t thinking BIG enough. Harry Potter is all well and good but if you’re gonna go there, go LARGE. Build something more along the lines of “Brit Lit World” (though the name will need work) – with sections devoted to each major player or era.

  4. Mel, I could not agree more. Can I suggest Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel? A thrilling story about a period in our history that many of us know very little of.
    I’m afraid I just get confused and bored with Tolkien and JK. We can’t be the only ones, surely?

  5. I think this is good maybe after this Universal would at least consider building a Universal Studios Resort in our country. It would be massive as they have no parks in Europe.

    PorteVentura does not count as it is not the traditional movie park and it isnt owned by them anymore anyway.

    But I think Harry Potter should come home since Universal are obviously milk the success of the park anyway by building smaller replica’s of the main ride in its other parks anyway.

  6. Mel, I agree with you. I would have thought the Harry Potter books would be right up my alley, because I love witchy magical things, but I couldn’t get into them. I like the character of Harry, but it is something about the way they are written. I found them so hard to read, gave up after the first book actually.

    I am flabbergasted that J. K. Rowling allows her work to be turned into a theme park in Florida! She must have some say in the matter, why would she do this?

    As Boris says in his article, the books are uniquely English, surely, however hard Warners Bros. try, the only place for a Harry Potter theme park is in the UK. I am appalled at the idea of a Florida theme park.

  7. You’d have thought Mandy could have done something for all that rhetoric about these pesky merchant adverturers buying up our best assets huh?

    So much for devalued sterling helping our exports too, all it seems to be accomplishing is a giant round of asset stripping. There’s even people buying up our gas guzzlers and shipping them to Oz you know.

    I’d quite like to short British Airways but since it’s priced in the Great British Krona I’m too scared of Johny Foreigner making a bid over the weekend and wiping me out.

    I mean if you were JK, would you plump for a big wedge of greenbacks or some of Mervyn’s magic millions?

  8. @Mel: i happen to have Henry viii king and court, i am still amazed at the fact i was reviewed along side people like Alison weir! as a Tudor Author on everythingtudor!
    I’m sorry i really couldn’t miss the importunity to say that 🙁 I was just very proud i think i actually bought a cigar!)
    I couldn’t stick at it for as long as she does to produce such a good quality book and its not as if shes only done the odd one.

    I am puzzled as to why , no actually its profit. However, wouldn’t it of been far more constructive to build a science / history attraction, include Salem witch trials, mythology, if you were also add a touch of Latin to the mix. Then the harry potter theme could of been easily integrated whilst at the same time providing a well rounded attraction that blends in perfectly not only with harry potter. Also with terry Pratchett disc-world series. Even if you realy wanted to (if anyone remembers) sabrina the (im so ashamed) teenage witch. This would provide not a positive learning experience, all the fun of a theme park but with a better understanding of the concept of witches and wizardry even alchemy too. Plus far much more revenue from advertisers as covering a broader market. Plus support to Terry Pratchett and the Alzheimer’s charity’s all at the same time???

    Am i the only person who thinks like this or something, its far more beneficial to all- including those running the place.

  9. @mel:Liked the link. Since Hilary Mantel is £50,000 better off, I have not hesistated to invoice for her for commission on your purchase, Mel.
    £0.36, but as David Cameron has made clear these are straightened times.
    And as for not liking JK, is it too late to say that I hated Jack Vettriano before he was famous, too?

  10. Oh, and on the subject of theme parks, I suggest a compulsory purchase of Castle Toward, for conversion to a fully interactive Brideshead Revisitor Centre. The scope for varied, uh, entertainment would be vast. The concession for teddy-bears would in itself dent the deficit. State sponsered debauchery – gotta be a winner, theme-wise!

  11. Boris, just wanted to say thanks.
    Thanks for recognising Harry Potter as a significant part of British culture. It is as much significant as The Beatles, Fish and Chips and Ant and Dec.
    The Wizarding World of Harry Potter could easily be in Surrey, as we already have two theme parks here, and they don’t bother anyone! It is also where Harry originally comes from. It won’t be the same strolling down Hogsmeade being blinded by the brilliant sunshine, or being served Butterbeer by an overly friendly American.

    Freya, 15

  12. I’d like to see hugely expensive red double-decker buses that don’t look very different from the latest National Express coaches in this fantasy theme park.

  13. Did someone mention the Millennium Dome in London; another example of Labour’s legacy?!

    The Millennium cost £700million to build, £300million to keep afloat and maintain and was sold for £106million ( a £894million loss ! )

    A major exhibition ( theme park, that is ) celebrating the third millennium, opened to the public from Jan 1, 2000 to December 31, 2000 ( 12 months ! )

    By contrast, Australia only spent $5million Australian dollars ( about £2million ) to stage their spectacular Sydney Harbour Bridge fireworks show to celebrate the Millennium New Year Eve 2000, which was voted the best celebration in the world.

    This goes to show you socialist Labour is heavily influenced by Russian communists who like to build costly big, useless things, then FORCE their ordinary folks to remember them by ! Like those Russian communist mausoleums, monuments with huge, heavy bronze busts of Russian communist mass-murderers-leaders perched on top etc… which are faithfully copied by all communist countries all over the world ! Hehehe !!!

    Had Labour won the last election, they would have become big-headed and one day build an A & V like museum to house the entire collection of Frumpy’s fashionable frocks ! Hehehe !!!

  14. Edith, this has the awful ring of truth. I can easily imagine the members of Unite being forced to fund a vast bronze statue of The Prince of Darkness himself, despoiling somewhere pretty like Regent’s Park, with the inscription, Look Upon My Works, Ye Taxpayer, And Despair…

  15. @Freya:
    Oh c’mon that’s almost the same as saying that the E.U is beneficial to the British economy.

    The day that jk Rowling venture for benefit of her bank manager becomes seen as culture is the day that i ….
    The day i go to city hall and start protesting against Boris Johnson!

    Culture is something of significance that shapes our country and its reputation and contributes to British pride.
    -> Tate art gallery
    -> British museum
    -> the Greenwich observatory
    -> the great British sitcom
    -> The carry on films
    -> Morecombe and wise
    -> great expectations
    -> the globe theater
    -> phantom of the opera
    -> royal variety

    All in my mind, far superior to harry potter that may of at first been intended as an enjoyable book for children. Now an over commercialized ‘series’ with more magical merchandise than you can shake a broomstick at.

    -> bed-knobs and broomsticks (anyone remember that one)

    people that contribute to our culture in the children s book world are people such as Kipling, Enid blyton, Beatrix potter, even Jacqueline Wilson for want of a more modern example.

    Harry potter to me is just a way of showing how hard it is to catch a train on time at kings x station. Platform umm, whatever platform is opposite to the one stated on the board at around half an hour late. Navigation your way around all the manic crowds and paying 30P!!!! To use the toilets which just so happen to be bereft of one of the slightly important bits TOILET PAPER. I think jkr is displaying a perfect example of a metaphor…
    Leaving behind the world at the first sign of a task you cannot face. Boarding an imaginary train to a land where the whole world is magical and you can achieve anything.
    Fair enough, a good idea for children (when our children were innocent enough to appreciate the idea) However at the end of the day, we need to accept that life is not that easy and you cant slip of and live out a fantasy as you will never come to terms with the reality of your situation.Harry potter- an orphan i believe?? Instead of having to work hard through life make an effort and slowly find friends go to work etc. Gets transported away from life’s problems and finds himself amidst magic and suddenly with so may friends he cannot count them all.

    (cough) Oh, Ummm… awfully sorry about that little rant there. Not my style to target literature??? Must be having an off day. Disagree at will 🙂
    However, if you think of the above examples then compare their positives to that of H.P there really is no comparison.

  16. Zac Goldsmith was on Today saying there are 633,000 empty homes in the UK.

    We need to tax 2nd home owners heavily. It’s selfish to have 2 homes when so many can’t afford one.

    How many homes does Boris (and Jo) Johnson own?

  17. Good whinge, but in reality where would a 20 acre theme park be built in Britain, when even a Tesco has to battle with small-minded councillors for years to put up a small supermarket. How about Donald Trump’s golf course on a wind-swept Aberdeenshire beach that was soon thwarted by British nostalgia for bird habitat. Investors know that it isn’t worth the headache.

  18. The real story behind sub-prime scenario is revealed from unexpected places! financial sector may have had sleep walking into the drama! the housing agencies’ commissioners were the real culpable as designers:

    “The only ones who knew the sub-prime loans were bad and would be uncollecible were the borrowers who wanted a fancy house for nothing, the realtor and lender who paid a crooked real estate appraiser to appraise the property at an inflated price to increase the real estate commision and the amount of the loan (granted to anyone walking and breathing), and the ‘agent who wrote the inflated loan and got a percentage of that amount for just writing it. Low participants. The lender then sold the loan to a larger bank or inurance company who had no inkling of the quality of the loan. ‘Factoring’ and selling of loans is thousands of years old and not illegal. At this stage all knowledge of the fact that the loan was made to someone who could never in a thousand years repay it was non existent. The banks and insurance companies (Goldman Sachs. Freddie, and Fanny included) were simply doing what they had been doing for decades.

    Thw loans were bundled and rebundled countless times so that an original amount of bundled loans of say 10 million dollars was actually the collateral for perhaps 5, 10, or more times that amount in bonds issued to individual investors but particularly to banks, large and small who bought the bonds not knowing that the collateral behind them was not only insufficient to cover the bond (MAYBE 10 PERCENT) most probably totally uncollectable. When a miilion in loans defaulted tens (or more) of bonds were worthless (pennies on the dollar). Congress quickly passed a law allowing banks to keep the bonds on their balance sheets at their face amounts, although the banks should have been showing them for what they were really worth: what they could sell them for in the open market. Congress therefore became a co-conspirator in perpetuating a frau. There are still trillions of these worthless loans still on the balance sheets of banks for their face value and not their real worth. “

  19. “….we find that someone else carts it off and makes a killing from it elsewhere” Boris

    Because Britain has played the sacrificial role since the empire era and as the inventor of the modern world.

    “We have been increasingly operating beyond our collective experience, operating blind in a totally new world. The BP blow out is a good metaphor for our situation is economics and many other branches of what we used to call “science”, but more properly today should call raw experimentation.”

    Now this is more interesting use for BP’s oil!!
    “In fact, if any business person votes Dem, that person should be boiled in BP’s oil!”

    by American bloggers in FT

  20. As the designer of a theme park myself I am struggling to get the idea up and running. If you are keeping up with this thread Boris then please get in touch. It is a veritable struggle as I am not an entrepreneur and have need of help to build this park. It is an idea that has never been done before and is totally undercover so will be brilliant whatever the weather in the UK. If the Americans can do it then so can we (meaning me) but the idea is in my head and needs to be brought out. Trouble is I don’t have enough of my own money to pay architects and other people. So, what do I do???

  21. I took my children to the actual castle in Anwick, Northumberland where Harry Potter was made and left the rest to their imagination.
    This is what will fire them, not some force fed, over priced American plastic.

  22. What a load of twaddle. Your rosey glass eye view of London is distorting your view of the facts.
    Yes Eurodisney was built in France, where the staff… being French… weren’t prone to provide that “Have a nice day!” feeling that Walt Disney instilled in his US parks, park numbers have not meet expectations resulting in cuts and staff actually striked during a Christmas period (Walt would have turned in his grave). Hence the enormous dept that it has found itself in since it opened being unable to generate the numbers to cover its costs…hardly a “triumphant success”.
    The figures may show that you are more likely to be robbed or shot in Orlando than London, but the fact is I “feel” more likely that it would happen in London than Orlando.
    Lets face facts… grey, rainsodden and dirty London will never attract the sort of numbers that a major groomed theme park like Universal Orlando can generate. The opening of the park has proved this.
    Lets just tip our bowler hat to our American cousins and admit that they do it better.

Comments are closed.