In 1997, the book series first introduced the consumer to J. K. Rowling’s characters and setting, a world overlapping our own, teaming with magical possibility. We see it almost exclusively from Harry’s point of view, taking in his introduction of the Wizarding World as our own. We find out that not everything is as perfect as it appears at first glance, that there are problems even magic can’t solve.
The movies started being released in 2001, closely following the paths the books led, with some obvious exceptions due to time limitations. (I’m still a little… peeved, that Peeves isn’t in the movies.) These let the consumer actually “see” the Wizarding World for the first time. While the illustrations in the books gave us an idea, we finally knew, unequivocally, what Harry Potter looked like, how the gate to Diagon Alley opened, Harry’s first wondrous sight of Hogwarts… The movies did a very good job of introducing non-readers to the Harry Potter universe, even though some things were over-dramaticized for the screen.
Also in 2001, Rowling published two small books for charity: “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them” and “Quidditch Through the Ages“. These exist in the Harry Potter universe as a textbook and a library book, respectively, and their release was quite exciting for fans. We could finally have a small piece of the actual Wizarding World for ourselves, and also learn quite a bit about topics not strictly covered in the series. She similarly made “The Tales of Beedle the Bard“.
In 2004, Rowling launched a whimsical site that was really more of a long-winded blog than a structured website, but we loved it anyway. She expanded on some facts and backstories that never made it into the series, such as how Dean Thomas’ father was a wizard killed in the first reign of Voldemort. The site was revamped in 2012 and lost a lot of the old information, replaced with new. There is also Pottermore, an interactive website that fans can engage with. There are Harry Potter video games, board games, card games, and almost any kind of game you can shake a wand at.
One of the most recent additions to the Harry Potter universe is the theme park, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando. I was able to go this past January, and it was incredible. Actually walking the odd streets of Hogsmeade, standing next to the Hogwarts Express, eating in The Three Broomsticks (Butterbeer is delicious!); I was fully immersed. It was just amazing. The park now has a section of Diagon Alley, too, and I can’t wait to go back. There are wands you can use that, with certain motions at specific locations, you can activate spells. How cool is that!
This doesn’t even touch on the huge amount of fanfiction and fanart that the fans have made, and frankly I shouldn’t get into that discussion if I want this post to end before the class does.
The transmedia experience of the Harry Potter universe has been a slow burn over almost two decades, and I can’t wait for the movies based on Fantastic Beasts to come out. I couldn’t imagine constricting someone to just one aspect of the universe; all of them together (or sequentially, I suppose) create something just… magical.