A Comparison of Sorcery: “Wizards of Waverly Place” vs “Harry Potter”

Let’s discuss the magical similarities and differences between the hit Disney Channel show vs the movie franchise that sweeped the world.

By: Carlos Glick | Pictured from left to right: the core “Harry Potter” trio and the “Wizards of Waverly Place” trio

When we were children, many of us watched the “Harry Potter” movies.

“Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix”, the fifth installment of the popular film series, was officially released in 2007. Around the time of this release, a Disney Channel show titled “Wizards of Waverly Place” would begin its five-year run. 

It consisted of 4 seasons and 106 episodes, making it the second longest running show to ever set the books on the Disney Channel.

The “Harry Potter” film franchise ran from 2001-2011. The “Wizards of Waverly Place” TV series ran from 2007-2012, including a standalone movie that came out on the Disney Channel back in 2009, and an hour-long special, which was released a year after the show’s finale in 2013. 

Similar to “Harry Potter”, back in 2016, another movie franchise was just beginning: the “Fantastic Beasts” series. The first movie was titled “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them”, later followed in 2018 by the second installment of the series, “Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.” 

On April 15, 2022, the next installment of the “Fantastic Beasts” installment will be released; the film is titled “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore”. 

All three of these series have one thing in common: spells, magic and potions. 

“Fantastic Beasts” takes place way before the events of “Harry Potter”; in fact, the events in “Fantastic Beasts” occurred from 1920-1945, over 70 years prior to the events in Harry Potter. 

The storyline in “Harry Potter” was set from 1991-1998, a few years after Harry Potter was born on July 31, 1980. On September 1st, 2017, 19 years after the Battle of Hogwarts, we get a glimpse at the next generation of “Harry Potter” at Kings Cross Station. 

So, how does “Wizards of Waverly Place” connect with “Harry Potter” and “Fantastic Beasts”? 

As we compare the TV series to the “Harry Potter” franchise, let’s take a look at an article on Screen Rant titled “‘Harry Potter’ & ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’: 5 ways they’re similar (& 5 ways they’re different)” by Lindsay Press. She explores the idea of two seemingly different franchises connecting to each other.

For the first similarity, we have “coming of age/wizards in training.” Harry, Ron and Hermione started attending Hogwarts at eleven years old. Alex, Justin and Max all began as pre-teens and teenagers. 

Moving on to the first difference, we have “stakes.” With Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters out and ready for war, the stakes are incredibly high, especially in the second half of the franchise. In “Wizards of Waverly Place”, there are only the occasional high stakes.

The next similarity is the idea that “teenagers don’t always listen to adults.” Harry understands what adults are saying to him but he doesn’t necessarily agree with it. Alex is also known for loving loopholes in the rules. 

For another difference among the series, we study the “lengths villains are willing to go.” The villains in “Harry Potter” are willing to go just about any lengths to get what they want. It is extremely different from “Wizards of Waverly Place”, which is a family-friendly Disney Channel show. 

Another similarity we have is the presence of the  “wise older wizard” trope. Albus Dumbledore was the wise old wizard of the franchise and Professor Crumbs is the counterpart to the serious but whimsy Dumbledore. 

Another difference between the series is “the power supply.” In “Harry Potter,” the wand chooses the wizard, and there is never a fear that magic suddenly won’t work one day. In ”Wizards of Waverly Place”, the rules are different. 

While wizards can do magic by hand, proving their powers are within them, their magic is also linked to a central power supply.

In another striking similarity, both series consist of “numerous supernatural creatures.” In “Harry Potter,” wizards are not the only thing that exists in the magical world; there are also werewolves and giants. 

In “Wizards of Waverly Place”, the series shares the usage of werewolves while also including vampires. 

Unlike “Harry Potter”, the wizards in the Disney Channel show have the Wizard Competition. In “Harry Potter”, there is never a competition that pits siblings against siblings. However, the Russo siblings had known about the Wizard Competition for years.

The final similarity between these series is the “importance of family and friendship.” Family and friendship are prominent aspects of the “Harry Potter” franchise. “Wizards of Waverly Place” explores similar themes. The Russo family may not have always been kind to each other, but at the end of the day, they were always there for each other.

The final notable difference is the “Muggle/Mortal Involvement.” While squibs are involved, “Harry Potter” is mostly made of wizards except for the Dursleys. However, in “Wizards of Waverly Place,” Theresa Russo, Harper Finkle and Zeke Beakerman are the main mortals of the series. 

Both the “Harry Potter” and the “Wizards of Waverly Place” franchises are two of the best magical franchises to this day. If you don’t believe me, see for yourself.

Categories: Arts

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