We're almost there. On June 18, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – the Warner Bros.-Universal Studios "Harry Potter" theme park in Orlando, Fla. – will officially open its gates to the world. All around the globe, there are Potter fans counting the hours.
But in London, there are some who don't share the eager glee. "I have nothing against Orlando," London Mayor Boris Johnson wrote in his weekly Daily Telegraph column. "In general I adore America. But I deeply and bitterly resent that Orlando is about to become the official place of pilgrimage for every Harry Potter fan on earth."
Johnson goes on to explain that he's not worried that the boy wizard and British export will somehow by misrepresented in the Florida park. On the contrary. "I know that ... everyone at Warner Bros and Universal will do a magnificent job of making it look and feel authentic and faithful to the stories," he continues. "But I know somewhere that's even better than Orlando at looking like London – and that is London. I want to know why this Kingdom of Potter is not being built in the UK."
Tim Adler, writing for Deadline.com, was quick to offer Johnson a few answers to his query: (1) Johnson asked too late. (Apparently Johnson wrote to Warner Bros 18 months ago, "well after the studio’s discussions with Universal Studios theme parks were underway"); (2) Adler speculates that, "Warner Bros. also shuddered at the labyrinthine planning permissions you would need to build a theme park in London"; (3) In addition, Adler points out, "Warner Bros is already planning a £100 million ($144 million) Harry Potter tour at Leavesden Studios, the north London studio where it has shot the movies."
But Johnson is unlikely to be placated anytime soon by any of the arguments above. After all, as he points out, "this Potter business ... will run and run, and we must be utterly mad, as a country, to leave it to the Americans to make money from a great British invention."
What does he plan to do about it? He finishes his column by urging "the children of this country and to their Potter-fiend parents to write to Warner Bros and Universal, and perhaps, even, to the great J K herself."
Marjorie Kehe is the Monitor's book editor.