Entering The World of Magic and Wizardry: Halloween Reading and A Trip To Universal Studios
By: Chris Darkes - November 9, 2016
Category : Places
This Halloween evening, I decided to do things a little differently. Instead of doing something Halloween-like, I’m currently knee-deep in the tremendous world of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. It felt a little out of character for me. First off, it’s Halloween and I dedicate a lot of time writing about all the spooky stuff the world has out there. So why not capitalize by writing about a scary movie I watched tonight? Well there will be plenty of posts about that in the near future. But it also coincided with a trip to Universal Studios last weekend, where upon parking on the top floor of a parking garage, I got to see first hand the incredible skyline paved with “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.” My girlfriend made me promise that I would finish the series before we could step foot into Hogsmeade. So I have my work cut out, however, am thrilled to accept the challenge.
I’m currently on the third book of seven. I know, I’m about 16 years late to the party. But as a contrarian, I find things much better after the initial hype has burned off. Someone recently asked me what I think the big appeal is with the Harry Potterbooks. Since I’m still working my way through them, the only reasonable explanation I can give is that J.K. Rowling submerges you into this other place; fusing together relatable feelings with the twists of a roller coaster. I have always loved fiction that delves into other worlds, but has people familiar to someone we’ve met or know. Just writing about it, I’m getting excited to get back into the adventure. Perhaps that is why over 400 million copies have sold. Before I do a full-bore review on the books though, I’d like to finish them. In the meantime, I can explain why I was at Universal last weekend.
Our trip began with me hunting down a rather odd item that is only available during Halloween Horror Nights. Every October since 2012, Universal Studios has come out with an exclusive figure to co-inside with their annual theme park event. While fascinated with the idea of the Horror Nights show, I’m not really one for getting the bejesus scared outta me, while simultaneously forking over cash to do so. So I was really hoping the exclusive figure I was searching for would be available in the city walk, and not just the actual park. As we stopped at the various stores, the idea was beginning to creep in that maybe they don’t sell them outside the confines. That is, until we walked into the very last place right before you close in on entrance to the theme park. We entered this shop that specifically sold items from the films of Universal.
There it was — in all it’s glory — a tiny row of Michael Myers figures stacked neatly, ready to be bought. I scooped one up, smiling like a little kid after trying ice cream for the first time. With that, we continued our way through the store to see what else they had to offer.
Walking through the vast store, there was a display case that housed some of the most incredible collectibles from Back To the Future I have seen. The DeLorean scaled down to 1/6. Doc Brown’s flux capacitor. Even the Sideshow Collectibles figures were in the case. You know how I feel about figures. On other shelf, a row of soft, friendly-looking E.T. dolls sat neatly. While making our way through the huge store, we spotted not just a display, but an entire section dedicated to all things Harry Potter.
As soon as we reached that section, I was swept with buzzing from people in Harry Potter robes (not people who work there) frantically moving around the displays. Excitement, curiosity, and joy filled the hearts of these people. I couldn’t help but also be moved. There were: crystal chess sets, wands of all sorts (displays for the wands), leather notebooks, and dioramas of the towns and castles. While a few items felt like a blatant cash grab, other collectibles were genuinely well thought out, detailed, and true to what I believe J.K. Rowling’s books try to set out to do.
As with any trip, we ended our stay there by getting something to eat. We settled on Bubba Gump Shrimp, due to our extreme love for all things Forrest Gump. We weren’t sure what to expect, but the food was actually really enjoyable. After that, we began to see the swarms of people flooding the city walk, making their way over to Universal for Halloween Horror Nights to begin. We figured it was time to say goodbye before the creatures came out. It was a great day, and I was thankful they had the item I came looking for. It’s time for me to close the laptop, and once again continue on the adventure that is Harry Potter.
Also published on Medium.