“Harry Potter: The Exhibition” – Toronto, ON, Canada
From April 9, 2010, to August 22, 2010, Harry Potter: The Exhibition was hosted at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto, Canada. This was its third North American stop and third stop overall.
Harry Potter: The Exhibition began with a Sorting Ceremony, and two people from our group got Sorted into Gryffindor and Ravenclaw respectively. After this, we entered a room with eight screens in front of us. They each played the same four-to-five-minute montage of clips from the first six Harry Potter films. At the climax, there was a shrill train whistle, and the wall to our left was lifted to reveal a replica of the Hogwarts Express with video-animated portraits. The Sorting Hat Ceremony and the montage were considered the “preshow,” which set the mood for the rest of the exhibition.
We were led through the walk-through mainly by Eddie Newquist, one of the creators of the exhibition, and Robin Stapley, the Vice President of Creative Studio of the exhibition. After the tour, we had a short Q&A session with them. They said that it was a “thrill” to bring the exhibition to life. Although they had been compiling the exhibition’s props and items for over two years, their only challenge so far was the amount of stuff to be shifted from place to place; 16 semitrucks were needed to import everything across the United States border.
When asked why they chose the Ontario Science Centre for the location of the exhibition in Canada, they said, “The foundation of science comes from inspiration; and just as Harry Potter has a long history of ideas, science also has a long history of ideas.”
Their favorite items in the exhibition are the creatures, such as Buckbeak and Fawkes. When pressed on why there aren’t more hands-on things in the Harry Potter exhibit, they replied that a lot of the artifacts are quite sensitive – it is nice to have a balance of experiences at an exhibit. They haven’t made any exact attendance estimates, but they expect hundreds of thousands of people to pass through the exhibition overall. They also mentioned that they will “definitely have ‘Deathly Hallows‘ props/costumes” and that they are “always going to be refreshing and updating” the exhibit as it travels.
James and Oliver Phelps came in next, and we got to have a short Q&A with them. Of course, one of the first things they were asked about was the Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park and filming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. They stated that they weren’t allowed to disclose much information, except that they’ve been filming some “cool action sequences” for Deathly Hallows. Their personal favorites from the exhibition are of course the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes joke shop items and Buckbeak. James’s favorite joke shop item is the Puking Pasties, while Oliver prefers the Nose-Biting Teacups. James’s favorite magical creature was the dragon, Oliver’s was the phoenix. James’s favorite scene to film in the movies is the Yule Ball scene because of the decoration of the Great Hall and the fact that they had to learn how to waltz. Oliver’s favorite scene to film is their first scene on Platform 9 & 3/4. Their favorite Harry Potter book is Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which they had read while on vacation a few weeks before screen-testing for the movies. When asked about their future plans, they said that they definitely want to continue acting after Harry Potter is over. When they spoke about Potterheads, they expressed, “Potter fans are great in general.”