Now, I'm not just talking about the persistence of a group of idealistic students, fighting to rid their world of evil. I'm also talking about the persistence of a franchise that started with one book and ended up delivering seven major novels, eight movies, a pair of stage plays, a slew of shorter books, and another film trilogy (in progress). And, oh yeah, four theme park lands... and counting.
No matter how much Potter you've enjoyed in your life, the Wizarding World persists in offering you more. The latest? The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, a castle projection light show that is debuting this month at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Don't come expecting the Wizarding World's response to Disney's World of Color, or even Universal Orlando's Cinematic Spectacular. While Hogwarts Castle provides an impressive canvas upon which to paint a delightful show, the available viewing space in front of the castle in Universal's Hogsmeade Village is relatively meager.
Universal would be killing itself by programming a show meant to draw thousands in a space that can barely hold hundreds. So Universal laid up here, and appropriately so. This nighttime show is the creative equivalent of picking low-hanging fruit.
The Sorting Hat is our unseen host, leading us through a short, five-minute shout-out to the four houses of the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry: Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin, and Gryffindor. Go ahead and yell for your house — everyone else in the crowd will for theirs.
But the thing about low-hanging fruit is that it's often sweet, tasty, and easy. Despite the brief run time, Universal has packed enough detail onto its castle that you'll want to see the show a second, and third, time — to take in everything from the cut-away, interior view of the staircases at one point in the show, to the owls flying from the school at the end. No, it's not the Battle of Hogwarts, recreated to thrilling effect. There's no narrative, nor a recreation of classic moments from the franchise. But it's a fun way to end your day in Hogsmeade — with a healthy, final serving of magic.
And with a Christmas version on the way (in Orlando, at least), Universal has the ability to deliver additional versions of the show in the years to come. So who knows what we might see, eventually? All we do know is... the wizards at Universal are persistent.
Universal plans to run the show multiple times a night once it opens officially on June 23, and I'd recommend not rushing to see the first performance of the evening. Universal invited local reporters to watch tonight's performances, and after crowding onto a platform to record the first show above a packed crowd of Potter fans, I found a better angle on the ground for the second show, when there was ample space to spread out and enjoy the view.
Update: Universal Studios Hollywood will host a Facebook Live event to stream the official debut of The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, on Friday, June 23 at 8:45pm PT.
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