I happened to be in Orlando when Universal’s “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” opened. An unabashed fan of all things Harry, I was among those waiting for a chance to visit Hogsmeade, drink butterbeer, and tour Hogwarts. All of which, by the way, was great fun.
I grew up going to Disneyland, I’ve been to Disneyworld, I’ve stood in thousands of lines with what feels like millions of people, all willing to share their misery with everyone around them. This line was different. Maybe it was because it was opening day, maybe it was the people I was near. Me, I think it was Harry. These people were downright companionable; we exchanged cell numbers so that parents could take their kids on a ride and then find their place in line; anyone who left for food offered to bring some back for those who stayed. The wait was long; it was hot and humid; it rained on us a couple of times. But Leo, the eight year old boy in front of me, never complained. He refused to leave the line for a drink, or a ride, or for anything. Leo was going to go to see Harry, and he was determined to stand in that line as long as it took.
Children’s literature is didactic, and never more so than in coming-of-age stories. The Harry Potter series is no different—the narrative revolves around watching the characters learn what it means to be adults. With the exception of the Slytherins, they are decent kids trying to do their best and generally succeeding. Most of us can see ourselves as such people.
These children are also capable of heroism. They encounter frightening circumstances, face problems that must be dealt with through courage and effort. They’re willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good. Most of us would like to think we can be such people.
Above all, they have a sense of wonder. That, I think, was what kept people standing so cheerfully in line—we wanted to partake in that wonder, and like Leo, were willing to wait for as long as it took.