Theme park as interface to the wizarding (story) world of Harry Potter

  • Victoria Godwin Prairie View A&M University
Keywords: Fan studies, Fan tourism, Immersion, Interfaces, Material fan practices, Universal Orlando Wizarding World of Harry Potter


Theme parks such as Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter (WWoHP) offer material interfaces that engage multiple senses (touch, taste, and smell, as well as the sight and sound of more conventional narrative forms) to facilitate immersion in imaginary story worlds. They thus offer new aspects of both fan tourism and material fan practices to explore. Both fan studies and current scholarship on theme parks emphasize active participatory conceptions, countering oversimplifications and misrepresentations of both audiences and theme park visitors as passive spectators or consumers. Corporate-created and -controlled theme parks frame and market fan activities to encourage consumption. Yet fans often use merchandise as additional interfaces to participate actively and to facilitate immersion. For example, in WWoHP, interactive wands use technology to create specific physical "spell" effects in specific locations. Both wands and spells act as a synecdoche for the story world's magic, enabling immersion.

Author Biography

Victoria Godwin, Prairie View A&M University
Department of Languages & Communications Assistant Professor