Double Trouble at Discovery Times Square

by Rachel Beard

I attended the Saturday morning #NYSeeingDouble event at Discovery Times Square. My friends and I arrived around 9:40 and ended up waiting outside for a little over two hours. It was below freezing, and waiting outside like that was only tolerable because of the excitement and the other great fans to pass the time with. James and Oliver Phelps arrived right at 11, and it was fun to watch them exit their car, get a quick glance at the masses waiting for them, wave, and then dash inside.

Once inside, the line moved relatively quickly and people were ushered into a small room to meet James and Oliver in groups of just a few fans at a time. We were told that they were not allowed to pose for photos with us, but I introduced myself and shared the fact that I’m a huge fan of the series and that I named my daughter Lily Potter after Harry’s mom. Oliver chatted with me a little bit about that and asked how old my daughter is and if she’s reading the books yet (6 and starting Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone very soon). James was very friendly as well. After they finished signing my book, I said, “Since I’m a big fan and you’re famous for being rule-breakers, can I come back there for a photo?” They very kindly agreed, as long as we could do it quickly. I ducked back behind the podium, and my friend snapped the shot.

We had purchased the VIP tickets, and it was easy to go straight from the signing to the front of the line for Harry Potter: The Exhibition. We were able to watch a few people get Sorted, and my friend Maria achieved her dream of being pronounced a Ravenclaw. After a brief montage of movie scenes in another room, we stepped right in front of the Hogwarts Express and even got snowed on! It was my first time at the exhibition, and with the crowds making our passage slow, I took some extra time for notes on the standout features.

We were treated to the singing of the Fat Lady, some artifacts from the Gryffindor common room, and the Gryffindor boys’ dormitory first. It was fun to see how Ron had brought so much of his Quidditch gear from home, while Harry has very few personal possessions. Ron’s Howler from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is tucked away in his trunk, and audio tour patrons should know to hold the speaker far from their ear when they listen to track #53 or they will get an earful of Mrs. Weasley’s screaming. We also loved the stars and moons that adorn the inside of the four-poster bed curtains, the authentic wizard candies, and the games we spotted.

Other fun items we noticed were the Grim in the tea leaves in Professor Trelawney’s class, the Half-Blood Prince’s Potions book, Lockhart’s ridiculous exam questions, and Harry’s lines of “I must not tell lies,” written in blood. We were not such fans of the gigantic jack-in-the-box boggart or the one thumping around in the wardrobe. Hagrid’s hut was a lot of fun, especially because we were allowed to lift the mandrakes outside the hut and sit in Hagrid’s enormous chair. The true-to-life Buckbeak was amazing looking too. After Hagrid’s hut, we were able to toss the Quaffle and score our first Quidditch goals. It was a bit too crowded in the Dark Arts area, but I did get a good look at the Horcrux display, and they are all incredible and very authentic-looking, especially the diadem.

We ended the tour in the Great Hall, where we saw remnants of the Yule Ball, the Goblet of Fire, and even Skiving Snackboxes! We passed by Fawkes, and though we were sad to leave, we were thoroughly exhausted by the time we emerged from the tour at around 2:00. We picked up some souvenirs in the gift shop, which is comparable to the one at Orlando International Airport but smaller than what can be found at the Universal Orlando Resort. It was a great day, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat, especially if they brought back any of my other favorite cast members.