Remember being a kid? You used to spend hours with your nose in a book, deeply engrossed in some fantastical, far off world. Summer afternoons used to stretch on forever. The government didn't seem quite so open with their anti-intellectual agenda. The point is, we spent a lot of time in magical, literary realms when we were younger. We logged hundreds of hours imagining what we would do if we found ourselves whisked off into a fantasy novel. Here are a few of the magical worlds we all wished we could visit as kids... even though they might not sound so fun now that we're older.
Seriously, a lot of these places sounded awesome when we were younger. Talking lions? Rivers of chocolate? Riding around on a luck dragon? Sign me the hell up. But now... the comforts of regular meals and indoor plumbing are awfully attractive. And who's letting those children run around that magical forest unsupervised? How could Dumbledore think that Lockhart would make a good teacher? Why wasn't Dorothy tried for manslaughter after dropping a house on that witch?
Now that we're older, it's easy to see all the flaws in the fantasy genre. But deep down, our inner child still kind of wishes that we could see these places for real:
1The Wizarding World
We all spent our eleventh birthday just waiting for that Hogwarts letter to arrive. The Wizarding World might have its drawbacks, like the anti-muggle prejudice and the lack of pencils (why do wizards have to write with quills?), but overall it's one of more fun and functional magical worlds. You can't read the books without desperately wishing that you could share a butterbeer with the Golden Trio, or even just stroll through Diagon Alley, shopping for a broomstick.
10/10, still waiting for my Hogwarts letter.
Neverland sounded great as a kid. Flying! Pirates! Mermaids! Never having to grow up! But... now that I have grown up, some of the fairy dust has rubbed off. The Lost Boys kind of hate women and the depiction of Native Americans is pretty undeniably racist. Even Peter Pan himself is a little bit creepy. I guess the flying part would still be fun.
4/10, would rather stay on the ground.
We all tried to find Narnia in the back of our closets at least once. The land (country? planet?) of Narnia goes through a lot of ups and downs throughout the series, but when things are good in Narnia, it's pretty much a paradise. There are talking animals, magical creatures, and the kids are totally allowed to play with swords. Just don't get on Aslan's bad side.
8/10, would still chill in the snow with Mr. Tumnus.
Speaking of talking lions, there's the classic Land of Oz. We all wanted to skip down the yellow brick road with Dorothy and friends, even if Oz appears to be a wildly dangerous country ruled by an unstable dictator. Actually, even as a kid, I was kind of freaked out by some of the weirder Ozites, like the breakable people made of porcelain, or the Flatheads who carry their brains in cans. So Oz was maybe just a little bit of a nightmare-scape.
7/10, the Emerald City sounds fun but there's no place like home.
5The Lands Beyond
In The Phantom Tollbooth, bored young Milo rides his toy car through a toy tollbooth and ends up in the bizarre Lands Beyond. All of the Lands Beyond appear to be based in puns, math, or spelling. As a small nerd, I was all about Dictionopolis and Digitopolis and that dog with the large clock embedded in his side.
8/10, I don't need to visit the Doldrums again, but the Subtraction Soup still makes me hungry.
The Lord of the Rings isn't exactly a kid's series, but a lot of us probably read The Hobbit as children. I loved the idea of running around with elves and dwarves and hobbits, and Gollum was somehow my favorite character (I guess I thought he was funny??). But looking back... good lord, I don't want to go camping with orcs for like six months and then talk to a very condescending dragon.
5/10, I'll just stay in the Shire, thanks.
Fantasia from The Neverending Story is full of odd characters, luck dragons, and swashbuckling adventures. It's hard to tell how fun Fantasia actually is, though, because Bastian spends so much of this book being an utter ass and accidentally erasing his own memory. He keeps creating monsters and then Atreyu has to fix everything for him after he leaves? Um, OK.
2/10 if I have to hang out with Bastian at any point.
His Dark Materials features quite a few parallel universes, but Lyra's home world is definitely the most fun. There are talking polar bears. Everyone gets their own little animal soul mate! If it wasn't for the shady theocratic officials kidnapping and murdering children, this would be an awesome place to visit.
7/10, I'd like a dæmon, please.
Look, were all of my favorite fictional worlds as a kid based around having cool pets? ...maybe. But Dinotopia just looked so gorgeous in those illustrations. I mean, just look at that cover. We would have wanted to visit even if there weren't dinosaurs all over the place. Although the dinosaurs didn't hurt, either.
9/10, it looks pretty, but I don't know if people curb their dinosaurs.
10Willy Wonka's Chocolate Factory
When you're a child, Willy Wonka's chocolate factory sounds unbelievably great. Chocolate everywhere! So what if the factory workers are unpaid and several children are murdered on the tour? But then you get older... and you start to wonder if he's putting all of those murdered children into the candy... and it kind of ruins the illusion.
1/10, I'm calling the Better Business Bureau.
Alice's adventures in Wonderland sound like a terrific lark when you're a little kid. Disappearing cats and mad tea parties! What fun! Pick up that book as an adult, though, and you are reading a straight up horror story. If I was transported to Wonderland I would maybe just spend the whole time weeping in a corner, trying not to get eaten by anything.
2/10, not following any white rabbits anytime soon.