Always (Final Paper) by Erin Steinberg

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Well, this is it. This is the end. I cannot believe it has gone by so quickly, it is crazy. Five weeks on another continent, in another country and what an experience it has been. It is really hard to pinpoint a favorite moment, or pick a favorite city, but if I had to, I think everyone could guess what I would choose.

I have always wanted to come to London. For one, it is where a lot of my favorite singers/musicians and actors are from, and where a lot of my favorite movies have been shot. Some of those movies being the Harry Potter series, and some of those actors being the ones that played the characters in the Harry Potter movies (namely Rupert Grint because we all know I love myself a ginger). So, going to the Harry Potter Experience was definitely the highlight of the trip for me; it was the peak. I could not have asked for a cooler or greater opportunity than seeing the actual sets and props and being in the actual building where my favorite childhood series was shot. I believe, starting at the third movie, I never saw a premiere of the movies later than the day it was released, and for half of them I went to the midnight premieres, and never while I was sitting there in the theater in awe at every film did I think I would be in England seeing where it all started. It was crazy and wonderful and something I will honestly never forget in my whole lifetime, and I only hope that I can get the opportunity to come back.
Harry Potter is a popular and well-known name all over the world, nowadays, but it originated in the United Kingdom because that is where the author, J.K. Rowling, is from. The original novel, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first released in the United Kingdom in June 1997 with only 500 copies originally. Publishers thought that the book was too long and slow for a children’s book, but it became an instant success. The first book was released in the United States a couple months after the second book, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, was released in the UK. However, the United States version had multiple vocabulary differences to make it less British and more American sounding, and the title was also changed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. After the original releases, the novels became a huge success in both countries and a new book was released pretty much every year until the final book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, is released worldwide on July 21, 2007.
Now, because of such huge success of the books, Warner Brother Studios took on the project to turn the books into movies. The first movie was released in 2001, and while it was criticized, as most books-turned-movies are, it was a huge success in both the United Kingdom and the United States. While all of the Harry Potter films were widely popular, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was the most. This is not surprising considering it was the end of an era. I remember going to the midnight premiere and thinking “wow, this is the last time I will ever see a midnight showing of a new Harry Potter movie. This is the last time I will ever see a Harry Potter movie,” and maybe I teared up a bit. The final movie is currently the sixth highest grossing film worldwide, and the highest grossing film for the year 2011, when it was released. It was huge all over the world when it was released and broke many records.
Harry Potter is currently the second most successful movie franchise in the world, after the Marvel movies. However, the Marvel movies include many different movies, and there are 14 of them (and are still continuing to make more and more), whereas Harry Potter only included eight. So, I would say, in my opinion, The Harry Potter series is the most successful series in history. I would definitely say it is one of the most well-known all over the world. So many people grew up with it, and it is a big part of their childhood, myself included!

On top of all of the books and movies’ success, Harry Potter theme parks have been created to lengthen the experience for the fans now that the series has ended. The two main Harry Potter attractions are, of course, in the United Kingdom and the United States. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the Islands of Adventure Park in Orlando, Florida was opened in June of 2010 and was a huge success that included the cast of the films. This portion of the park includes well-known shops from Hogsmeade and an up close and person experience that takes you through the Hogwarts castle, and you actually get to go through the castle while you are in line, so waiting is definitely not horrible! The second portion of this theme park opened in Universal Studios Orlando in July 2014. It includes all of Diagon Alley and an actual Hogwarts Express that you can take from Diagon Alley to Hogsmeade and Hogwarts! I, unfortunately, have yet to have been able to partake in the second part of the adventure yet, but hopefully soon!
Now, that is in America. But, in the United Kingdom, they have the Harry Potter Experience, which is what I mentioned earlier was my favorite part of this whole trip. Inside the experience, you get to see all the original props, the sets, the original Hogwarts Express, and a ton of other things that were involved in the making of these widely popular films. Not to mention, it is all inside of the studio where the majority of the films were actually shot, meaning I stood right where Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint stood! I was in the same place as Harry, Ron, and Hermione, and thanks to the Harry Potter Experience, all of the other “Potterheads” are able to, as well!
Honestly, Harry Potter has been a big part of my life and my childhood, and it means so much to me, and I know it does to other people all over the world, as well. It has been such a widely accepted and popular series and I am sure will “always” remain in the fans’ hearts.

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