The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — perhaps the most internationally anticipated theme park since, I dunno, EPCOT? — is about to open to the public in Orlando, Fla., and not in Great Britain. “I want you to know that I have nothing against Orlando,” writes Johnson, “though you are, of course, far more likely to get shot or robbed there than in London.” (Snap!) “But I deeply and bitterly resent that Orlando is about to become the official place of pilgrimage for every Harry Potter fan on earth….Because the fact is that Harry Potter is not American. He is British….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?”Boris Johnson, the mayor of London, has written a hilarious (and hilariously British) op-ed on the website of the UK’s Daily Telegraph railing against the fact that
Uh, yes Mr. Mayor, we gottit. Johnson goes on to appeal to his countrymen, women, and children to write to Warner Bros. (which owns the movie rights), Universal (which is running the Potter attraction at its Islands of Adventure theme park), and J.K. Rowling herself and implore them to “bring Harry home to Britain.” He dismisses arguments that Orlando has superior 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 points out that his city has less rainfall than Rome. Basically, his argument boils down to this: “I know somewhere that’s even better than Orlando at looking like London — and that is London.”
Having visited both London and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, I can say without hesitation that he does have us there. Orlando looks nothing like London, what with all those palm trees and the constant warmth and sunshine. So long as we’re on the topic of the weather, it is kinda strange walking around the snow-capped edifices of Hogsmeade in 75-degree heat (with humidity), certainly, but it will also be nice to be able to ride the Dragon Challenge roller coaster in December without needing, you know, a parka. Plus, there’s the rest of the Universal Islands of Adventure to enjoy, and Universal Studios next door, and, oh yeah, Disney World (with Epcot!) is just a quick drive down I-4. And while I imagine the shepherd’s pie and chocolate trifle available at the Three Broomsticks won’t quite be able to match the mouthwatering splendor of true British cuisine, I have faith that the Potter fans won’t really mind.
I certainly understand why Mayor Johnson is so barmy — I’d be upset too if a theme park celebrating a national treasure was opening an ocean away. But he really only has his own country to blame for not thinking of doing a home-grown Potter park sooner. And, besides, as he himself points out, there is Euro Disney (or, sorry, Disneyland Paris); if the Wizarding World of Harry Potter turns out to be as wildly successful as Mayor Johnson suspects, whose to say that a U.K. version won’t be possible at some point in the future?
Do you agree with London’s mayor, Popwatchers, and think the Harry Potter park should move to London? Or do think it’s bloody folly for the Harry Potter park to apparate across the pond?