Wednesday, 9 June 2010

Boris gets in a muggle

When they're not busy claiming duck houses and moat cleaning services on expenses, politicians can always be counted upon to weigh in on the issues that matter. So even though Britain is teetering on the brink of an economic disaster that's set to make Dickens-era London look aspirational, Boris Johnson knows what we're really worried about - the new Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios in Florida.

Oh Boris! The man elected to the Mayor's office because half of London thought they were nominating a new Dean for the Clown's College. Apparently, he's got a real bee in his barnet about the forthcoming 'Wizarding World of Harry Potter' - the $265 million attraction that opens next week in Orlando.

Promising an authentic recreation of Diagon Alley, and a variety of exciting thrill rides that drop visitors straight into Hogwarts (the most dangerous secondary school outside of Hackney), the Harry Potter experience has been meticulously created by the production designers who worked on the movies. They've even got fake snow on the roofs of Hogsmeade, even though Florida hasn't seen a white Christmas since it was part of the same land-mass as Africa.

But Boris isn't happy, because he thinks that the theme park should be here in the UK. Writing in The Telegraph, he argued that the attraction is the "crowning insult" to the loss of British intellectual property, and should have been built in London instead.

He's clearly read the books - he even gets worked up about the preferred entry point to the Ministry of Magic (through a phone box if you're interested) - and identifies with the quintessentially British boarding school environment in which they're set.

It shouldn't really come as any surprise that Boris is all caught up in Harry Potter's fictional world - he's about as grounded in reality as Spongebob Squarepants. He even urges readers to write to Warner Bros in order to "bring Harry home" by relocating the attraction. Not sure how Universal Studios would feel about Warner Bros requisitioning their property, but anyway...

The real issue here is that Boris thinks that building a Harry Potter attraction in the UK would be a good idea. The last time someone tried to open a theme park in the UK, we were given a muddy car-park, a collapsible gazebo and a couple of diseased reindeers. People paid £25 for the privilege of wandering around it and complaining to the press about what a shit day they'd had.

The Orlando attraction cost a quarter of a billion dollars, and that was really just giving a Harry Potter-facelift to existing rides. Imagine how much it would cost to build it from scratch, and how much fun we'd have complaining about the astronomical ticket prices.

Sorry to say it, but the 'Wizarding World of Harry Potter' is too good for us. No candy floss, no mistreated donkeys, no sewage outlet pipes - that's not what we expect from a Great British holiday. If only Boris understood what really makes the common people tick.

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