Fans wait outside the theatre for hours, many rereading their well worn and well read Harry Potter books. The movie starts; his name appears on the screen. Applause drowns out Hedwig’s Theme.

“Watching a Potter film in a movie theatre is amazing. You feel like you’re in his world, like the action and adventure is unfolding around you,” senior Katherine O’Meara said.

Eleven publishers turned down the story of the boy wizard, stating it was too long and slow for children. Finally, in October 1996, Bloomsbury Publishing accepted J.K. Rowling’s story. The initial printing was only 500 copies; Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone has sold more than 107 million copies and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows sold 11 million copies on the release day.

Children and adults gathered in bookstores to be immersed in the magical Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

“I kinda grew up with [Harry Potter]. The last [book] came out when I was 19,” English teacher Brittany Forbes said.

The series was written to entertain with a magical environment where the grass seemed greener. But Rowling’s magical world proved to have just as many problems as reality. For instance, racial slurs such ‘Mudblood’ are used and Slytherins are labelled as evil based on the house’s reputation.  Harry and his friends faced violence and fought intolerance, inequality and prejudice throughout the books.

Lessons relate to the readers’ everyday lives and they begin to find solutions to their problems through Harry’s experiences with love, growing up and finding  his courage when facing opposition.

“I was bullied when I was little. Harry Potter has taught me not to listen to [the bullies], it’s all about your thoughts. You don’t have to change to fit into society,” freshman Kobe Grenier said.

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes in Rowling’s stories. Harry faces not only Voldemort and his Death Eaters, but rival classmates and difficult teachers, such as Draco Malfoy and Severus Snape. Fans often debate over Snape’s actions in the book, but there is one character that every fan has the same opinion of: Professor Umbridge, who is often the most hated character, because of who she may represent to each reader’s life.

“I hate Umbridge more [than Voldemort]. While Voldemort is pure evil, everyone has that one teacher that they feel is out to get them. Umbridge is just so relatable to everyone [because] not everyone has an arch nemesis out to kill them,” O’Meara said.

Harry has come from Hogwarts to Hollywood and, more recently, has come to Universal Studios.

Fans can enjoy the quiet village of Hogsmead and the sight of Hogwarts atop a mountain all while sipping sweet Butterbeer. Diagon Alley offers a louder atmosphere with it’s fire-breathing dragon atop Gringotts bank to welcome the witches and wizards that enter through the brick wall.

“They have everything on point. It immerses you into wizard life,” Grenier said.

The movies and parks are both equally large however the real impact is seen in the fans who stuck by Harry until the end.

“[Harry Potter] has really shaped my mind. I have always been creative and [Harry Potter] has given me the confidence. It has helped me step out of my shell,” Grenier said.

One British boy named Harry Potter impacted generations. He was not a prince and he was never on X Factor. He was just Harry.

“Harry Potter has created a generation of dreamers. Because of these books, people everywhere have learned the power of love and a little bit of magic,” O’Meara said.

By Stephanie Landis

Hey, I'm Stephanie and I am a senior. I like reading, writing, Disney movies, and nearly everything nerdy.

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