Have magic, will travel’: Tourism and Harry Potter’s United (Magical) Kingdom

From Tourist Studies

This article examines the expanding global tourist trade for fictional places derived from popular narratives that are recreated for the tourist’s pleasure. The study is concerned with a form of tourism whereby imaginary, invented places, as represented in various media, are recreated for tourists with strong fan affiliations to a text. Tourism involving imaginary places has the powerful ability to rework cultural identity in the national and international imagination and transform landscapes. Through a case study of a Harry Potter UK tour, the author argues that the design of such ventures equalize the importance of the (f)actual and imaginary geographies to create affective, liminal spaces where the tourist anticipates and partakes in the trans­formation of sights/sites.  If the fantasy genre creates an ‘expansion of reality, to intensify the realization of experience’ it could be said that travelling to a Harry Potter associated site provides the tourist with more details and paratexts in which to create narratives and play with (even more) possibilities. While millions of fans around the world celebrated and heralded the end of an era and the hero’s completed rite of pas­sage with the release of the final film, the Harry Potter phenomenon is far from over. The ability to walk in the footsteps of Harry Potter will guarantee its longevity.

Abstract

This article examines the expanding global tourist trade for fictional places derived from popular narratives that are recreated for the tourist’s pleasure. Through a case study of a Harry Potter tour in the United Kingdom, I explore how the design of fantasy-themed ventures encourage a re-imagining of the landscape where (f)actual and imaginary geographies exist side by side. The locations function as affective, liminal spaces where the tourist anticipates and partakes in the transformation of sights/sites. Narrative and spatial engagement are crucial in producing a sense of embodied experience and an enchanted, and enchanting, reality where the realms of possibility are expanded.

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Article details
Lee, C. (2012). ‘Have Magic, Will Travel’: Tourism and Harry Potter’s United (Magical) Kingdom Tourist Studies DOI: 10.1177/1468797612438438

     
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