Harry Potter paints a new version of London

LONDON —  J.K. Rowling released her first installment of the “Harry Potter” series in 1997. Little did she know that the series would soon take off, leading to the transformation of London’s touristic landscape.

The Harry Potter franchise continues to grow in London despite the series ending over a decade ago. Tourists flock from all over to experience the wizarding world on a more personal level, as demonstrated by the many tourist attractions. This symbolizes the grand impact that J.K. Rowling’s books and movies had on individuals, London, and the touristic landscape as a whole.

Traveling to London back in the ‘90s or 2000s, a trip itinerary would probably include trips to museums, cultural sites, shopping, eating out, and seeing shows on the West End. Tourists wouldn’t care about visiting Harry Potter tourist attractions simply because they didn’t exist or didn’t know that much about them. 

Now, decades later, London visitors can add multiple Harry Potter items to their London wish-list, including a trip to platform 9 ¾ at King’s Cross Station, seeing “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child”, or touring Warner Bros. Studio where the movies were filmed.

Kamree Laursen poses for a photo at Platform 9 ¾, pretending to be entering the wizarding world. She is participating in one of the many tourist locations in London. (Mary Harris)

So how is it that the series impacted London’s tourist landscape so extremely?

Between the years 1997 to 2007, J.K. Rowling released seven books. Simultaneously, from 2001 to 2011 Warner Bros. released eight movie adaptations. The story immediately captured the attention of readers and viewers alike, drawing them into a fantasy world of wizards and witches hitherto unknown.

Ella Kanusen, a 9-year-old from Scotland, said that she likes Harry Potter because of the flying broomsticks and the talking car, demonstrating how the levels of magic incorporated into the story prove to be influential in the minds of young people.

The story simply resonated with people, as was the case for Courtney Hayes, a London native and manager at the The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 ¾. She was introduced to the story when she was just three years old. She said that the story of Harry Potter shows a lot about how to understand life. Hayese explained that it helps others understand people’s backgrounds and how each person’s circumstance is different from those around them, leading to a greater sense of community.

It is evident how the Harry Potter franchise has had a major impact on the United Kingdom’s economy. A professor at the London School of Economics said that Harry Potter is worth 4 billion British pounds to the UK economy. The story itself is booming and isn’t slowing down, despite the amount of time that it has been out. 

As the story continues to be read and seen across the world, more and more people are eager to have a taste of it in the real world, as was told by Hanusen.

Hayes said that she sees a big connection between Harry Potter and London now. 

“All my friends who don’t live in London who come to visit ask me to show them Harry Potter bits,” Hayes said “Even just by reading the books you can see lots of connections between streets and back alleys here which they want to see.”

Given the success of the story and the way it resonates with individuals all across the world, it isn’t a wonder that it continues having a lasting impact on London. People are coming to London, eager to be a part of the magic and experience firsthand how J.K. Rowling came up with such a spontaneous creation. 

“Some of the most iconic scenes in Harry Potter were either set here, based off of places here, or filmed here,” Kaylyn Wolf, a California native interning in London said. “There’s King’s Cross, Millennium Bridge, Piccadilly Circus… the list goes on. Everywhere you go, it feels like you are a character.”

London remains an international capital for diplomacy, business, innovation, food, tourism and culture. Those things will never change. And it appears that the impact of Harry Potter won’t either.

London native, Bryan Ellsworth, said “[he] sees the impact that Harry Potter has on London all the time. [He] notices how people flock to Harry Potter tourist attractions everyday and [he] doesn’t see that going away any time soon. It just keeps going up.”

The series continues to bring in a massive crowd of tourists to London from all over the world. The impact is also seen in other areas, particularly in the United States with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter located in both Universal Orlando and Los Angeles, California

With a continued flow of both revenue and tourism, the story will continue to impact the tourist landscape of London, allowing visitors a wizarding experience that surely won’t disappoint.

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