You may not know it, but I’m a huge Potterhead.
Wait, that doesn’t sound right. I mean, I’m a Potterphile.
Ugh, that sounds even worse. Let’s just say I’m a big fan of the Harry Potter books. So, when a cancelled wedding left my husband and I with plane tickets and vacation time to spare, we decided to check out The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Theme Park, Florida.
And it was awesome.
They’ve recreated practically life-sized versions of Hogsmede and Diagon Alley in the parks, complete with a Hogwarts Express to shuttle you between the two. And what made it so awesome, was what made the books so great: the attention to detail.
J.K. Rowling created this amazingly complex world filled with details. All right, I know the books aren’t perfect. There are discrepancies with the magic system, and the rules surrounding it – among other things – but I want to focus on what she did right. Her world-building, at least when it came to the little things, was what made the books (and the theme parks) work. She created a new sport, new food and drinks, and new money, not to mention fun things like moving photos, talking portraits, and interesting creatures. So when I was drinking a piping hot Butterbeer at the Three Broomsticks, trying on robes at Madam Malkin’s, or picking out sweets at Honeydukes, I really felt like I was part of the world.
It also made me think. Does my my MG Fantasy have enough details? Probably not. Admittedly, Rowling had seven (rather large) books in which to build her world, but I’ve heard she had notebooks full of backstory and world-building that never even made it into the novels. And I think this is what my world is lacking. I mean, I have a file full of background and maps, etc, but I could definitely go deeper. So, while my concussion has me sidelined from doing any major revisions, I think I’m going to spend some time trying to figure out all the little details missing from my MG Fantasy world. Sure, most of them will probably never make it into the book(s?), but hopefully just knowing the info will flesh out my Fantasy’s world into something readers can get lost in.
So now I’m wondering: What other books/series contain enough details to allow the creation of a whole theme park world? I could think of a few adult book series that would work: George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones, J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings (how cool would it be to visit Middle Earth?) and just about any/all King Arthur legends. For kids books, there’s C.S. Lewis’s Narnia, Frank L. Baum’s Oz, or even J.M. Barrie’s Neverland from Peter Pan. But what about recent books? Can you think of any recent Middle Grade books whose books could inspire a whole theme park? Let me know in the comments, I’d love to hear about them.