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I've visited every official Harry Potter attraction in the world and saw how the franchise ballooned into an empire raking in billions

I've visited every official Harry Potter attraction in the world and saw how the franchise ballooned into an empire raking in billions
Retail1 min read
Butterbeer.Taylor Rains/Insider
  • The Wizarding World of Harry Potter is a huge empire with stores, theme parks, and tons of merchandise.
  • Harry Potter books, toys, and games have raked in approximately $15 billion since the brand's debut.

It's been 20 years since the Wizarding World of Harry Potter hit the big screen for the first time, eventually becoming the third-highest-grossing film series of all time and creating a fan base like no other.

It
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint      s_bukley/Shutterstock

Source: CNBC

Devout Potterheads, as they came to be known, have followed the franchise for over two decades as 10 movies and a Broadway musical brought the story of an orphan wizard to life.

Devout Potterheads, as they came to be known, have followed the franchise for over two decades as 10 movies and a Broadway musical brought the story of an orphan wizard to life.
Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter.      Jeff Spicer/BFC/Getty Images for BFC/Warner Bros.

Source: CNBC

Since JK Rowling's release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone in 1997, the story has exploded into a worldwide brand with video games, real-life Quidditch tournaments, Hogwarts cosplay, and hundreds of specialty merchandise pieces, like wands, clothes, puzzles, and stuffed dragons.

Since JK Rowling
Harry Potter book series      mohd kamarul hafiz/Shutterstock

Source: Britannica

As a Potterhead who proudly identifies with the Slytherin house, I made it my mission to visit every Warner Bros-made Harry Potter attraction in the world, like the life-size creation of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida…

As a Potterhead who proudly identifies with the Slytherin house, I made it my mission to visit every Warner Bros-made Harry Potter attraction in the world, like the life-size creation of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida…
Hogwarts castle at Islands of Adventure in Universal Orlando      Taylor Rains/Insider

Hogsmeade at Universal Studios in Hollywood, California, and Osaka, Japan…

Hogsmeade at Universal Studios in Hollywood, California, and Osaka, Japan…
Universal Studios Hollywood      AnjelikaGr/Shutterstock

The studio tour in England where the actual sets and props from the movies are housed…

The studio tour in England where the actual sets and props from the movies are housed…
Cupboard under the stairs set at the Warner Bros Studio Tour outside London      Taylor Rains/Insider

The Harry Potter film concert series with a live orchestra...

The Harry Potter film concert series with a live orchestra...
Harry Potter film concert series      Warner Bros

The three Harry Potter stores in England at London Heathrow Airport, London Gatwick Airport, and Kings Cross Station...

The three Harry Potter stores in England at London Heathrow Airport, London Gatwick Airport, and Kings Cross Station...
Kings Cross store.      Alan Kean/Shutterstock

And the giant flagship Harry Potter store in New York City that opened in June 2021.

And the giant flagship Harry Potter store in New York City that opened in June 2021.
Harry Potter flagship store in New York City      Taylor Rains/Insider

After visiting the NYC shop, it was obvious that the love for "the boy who lived" is still going strong as Warner Bros continues to build the world and rake in billions from adoring fans.

After visiting the NYC shop, it was obvious that the love for "the boy who lived" is still going strong as Warner Bros continues to build the world and rake in billions from adoring fans.
Harry Potter flagship store in New York City      Taylor Rains/Insider

The NYC flagship store is the latest addition to the collection of worldwide experiences and the three-level building was bigger than the one at the Warner Bros Studio Tour in London, making it clear that there is always more room to grow.

The NYC flagship store is the latest addition to the collection of worldwide experiences and the three-level building was bigger than the one at the Warner Bros Studio Tour in London, making it clear that there is always more room to grow.
Harry Potter flagship store in New York City      Taylor Rains/Insider

The shop has the largest collection of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts products in the world, offering unique products like the Golden Snitch Wand and a section to personalize robes and trunks.

The shop has the largest collection of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts products in the world, offering unique products like the Golden Snitch Wand and a section to personalize robes and trunks.
Harry Potter flagship store in New York City      Taylor Rains/Insider

Walking around the store I was happy to find a cafe to purchase butterbeer, though the tiny beverage ran me about $11, which wasn't surprising. The store is one of the few places in the world fans can try the drink and Warner Bros knows they'll pony up for it.

Walking around the store I was happy to find a cafe to purchase butterbeer, though the tiny beverage ran me about $11, which wasn
Cafe in NYC Harry Potter flagship store      Taylor Rains/Insider

Despite its price tag, the drink was delicious, though I wish there was less foam and more drink.

Despite its price tag, the drink was delicious, though I wish there was less foam and more drink.
Butterbeer.      Taylor Rains/Insider

Also in the store were two unique virtual reality experiences, one for flying broomsticks and one for exploring Hogwarts. While I did not try either experience during my visit, I spoke with one of Warner Bros consultants about their popularity. Vishal Balani is a consultant with Integrating Insights who partners with the company to get feedback from customers about the shop.

Also in the store were two unique virtual reality experiences, one for flying broomsticks and one for exploring Hogwarts. While I did not try either experience during my visit, I spoke with one of Warner Bros consultants about their popularity. Vishal Balani is a consultant with Integrating Insights who partners with the company to get feedback from customers about the shop.
Broomstick virtual reality experience      Taylor Rains/Insider

According to Balani, the virtual experiences are popular but limited because they can only host about eight guests per hour. He also explained that while virtual reality is a draw for many guests, the merchandise and unique design of the store are what bring people in.

According to Balani, the virtual experiences are popular but limited because they can only host about eight guests per hour. He also explained that while virtual reality is a draw for many guests, the merchandise and unique design of the store are what bring people in.
Wizards trunks.      Taylor Rains/Insider

I visited on a Tuesday afternoon around 4 p.m. and was surprised to be able to walk right in with minimal crowds, but Balani assured me that was normal because of the day and time. He said the store is typically packed after 7 p.m. on weekdays and even more so on weekends.

I visited on a Tuesday afternoon around 4 p.m. and was surprised to be able to walk right in with minimal crowds, but Balani assured me that was normal because of the day and time. He said the store is typically packed after 7 p.m. on weekdays and even more so on weekends.
There were minimal crowds during my visit.      Taylor Rains/Insider

On weekends, Balani and other employees I spoke to said the line is wrapped around the building and people wait anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours to get in. Fortunately, the company offers a virtual queue option to manage capacity.

On weekends, Balani and other employees I spoke to said the line is wrapped around the building and people wait anywhere from 1.5 to 3 hours to get in. Fortunately, the company offers a virtual queue option to manage capacity.
Windows outside the store.      Taylor Rains/Insider

"When you get a notification to enter you actually have a full hour to get here, so it's good because people can explore this area where there are a lot of restaurants and activities," Balani said. "It works pretty well."

"When you get a notification to enter you actually have a full hour to get here, so it
Harry Potter flagship store in New York City      Taylor Rains/Insider

Balani said he's spoken to hundreds of visitors since the store's opening in June, and many people have the shop at the top of their NYC bucket list, with the furthest person coming from Switzerland.

Balani said he
Harry Potter flagship store in New York City.      Taylor Rains/Insider

"They were on a Harry Potter tour around the US and the store in NYC was the main reason for visiting the city," he said.

"They were on a Harry Potter tour around the US and the store in NYC was the main reason for visiting the city," he said.
Harry Potter flagship store in New York City.      Taylor Rains/Insider

He also spoke to a family from Stony Brook, New York. "They came to the store as a day trip, which is a solid two-hour drive each way," Balani explained.

He also spoke to a family from Stony Brook, New York. "They came to the store as a day trip, which is a solid two-hour drive each way," Balani explained.
Harry Potter flagship store in New York City.      Taylor Rains/Insider

After hearing about fans waiting in long lines or traveling for hours just to visit the flagship store, it's no wonder the Wizarding World of Harry Potter continues to expand and maintain its billion-dollar empire after two decades.

After hearing about fans waiting in long lines or traveling for hours just to visit the flagship store, it
Harry Potter flagship store in New York City.      Taylor Rains/Insider

In 2019, worldwide Harry Potter stores earned over $26 million in revenue. Merchandise is a huge part of the brand's earnings, with book sales accounting for over $7.7 billion and toys and games making over $7.3 billion.

In 2019, worldwide Harry Potter stores earned over $26 million in revenue. Merchandise is a huge part of the brand
Harry Potter store at London's Heathrow airport      Heathrow Airport

Meanwhile, the original eight films alone made over $9 billion in the worldwide box-office and the studio tour in England made £306.8 million ($408 million) in profits from 2012 to 2019.

Meanwhile, the original eight films alone made over $9 billion in the worldwide box-office and the studio tour in England made £306.8 million ($408 million) in profits from 2012 to 2019.
Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour.      Taylor Rains/Insider

Harry Potter was also a saving grace for the Universal Studios theme parks in Florida. Before the company opened Harry Potter's Hogsmeade in 2010, the park's attendance was low and Universal had nowhere near the popularity of its rival Walt Disney World.

Harry Potter was also a saving grace for the Universal Studios theme parks in Florida. Before the company opened Harry Potter
Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando      Taylor Rains/Insider

However, that changed after the opening of the new land. In the first three months after opening Hogsmeade, attendance at Islands of Adventure, one of Universal's two parks, was up 36% from 4.6 million in 2009 to 5.9 million in 2010. That number jumped to 7.6 million in 2011.

However, that changed after the opening of the new land. In the first three months after opening Hogsmeade, attendance at Islands of Adventure, one of Universal
Hogsmeade in Universal Studios Orlando.      Galina Savina/Shutterstock

"It saved the theme park industry," theme-park historian and author Sam Gennawey said in his book Universal vs. Disney. "Disney is still trying to catch up."

"It saved the theme park industry," theme-park historian and author Sam Gennawey said in his book Universal vs. Disney. "Disney is still trying to catch up."
Visitors at Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Orlando.      Taylor Rains/Insider

Though Harry Potter's story ended with the Cursed Child book adaptation of the stage play, the love for the iconic wizard isn't going away anytime soon.

Though Harry Potter
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child      Wan Fahmy Redzuan/Shutterstock

The franchise continues to grow with the Fantastic Beasts movie series, which has grossed about $1.5 billion since 2016, and fans will soon be able to enter the Wizarding World and create their own character in a role-playing console video game set for 2022.

The franchise continues to grow with the Fantastic Beasts movie series, which has grossed about $1.5 billion since 2016, and fans will soon be able to enter the Wizarding World and create their own character in a role-playing console video game set for 2022.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them at local game and film festival in Russia.      Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock

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