Harry Potter: The Exhibition – Edmonton, AB, Canada
From November 23, 2013, to March 9, 2014, Harry Potter: The Exhibition was hosted at TELUS World of Science in Edmonton, Canada. This was its seventh North American stop and tenth stop overall.
Harry Potter: The Exhibition is an event not to be missed by any Potter fans. This is coming from a skeptic. Sure, I wanted to see the props, but how great could it really be? What would there be for a fan who already knows so much about the series? The tour at TELUS World of Science starts out with a Sorting Ceremony. A few lucky members of the press chosen from the group were asked to sit on a stool and try on the hat that sees all that is in your head. Once you receive your House, you’re led into a dark room with movie posters from all eight movies hung. A video starts, and within a few seconds of the video ending, a door opens and a prefect ushers you through to begin the tour.
We were given audio guides, and as I said, I was skeptical. I worried that I would be distracted if I listened, and what could it really tell me that I didn’t already know? Although there are some facts that are common knowledge, there are many interesting facts about the props, how they were made, and the inspiration behind them. I particularly loved hearing about the costumes and how their iconic clothing came to be. The audio tracks are short enough that you can listen while taking in a display and still have time to admire all the intricate detailing that the props hold.
One of my favorite parts of the exhibition was the Forbidden Forest area. In an effort to submerge you in the whole experience, the area smells damp and earthy, and combined with lighting and sound effects, it feels like you’re entering a forest. The detailing on the Death Eater costumes is truly to be admired. On one of Lucius Malfoy’s ensembles, you can see snakes everywhere, but it was done so subtly, you almost can’t see them at all. The Death Eater masks are simply breathtaking.
Of all the classrooms, the Potions room is the one to see, if you can only see one. There are countless jars filled with various ingredients; from dried products and suspicious liquids to what appears to be an entire lizard, there are a million things to see, and I could have spent significantly more time gazing at the infamous robes of Severus Snape.
When you enter the final room of the exhibition, you’re greeted by educational decrees. Without giving too much away, spend some time reading these, especially the small print. The Great Hall contains even more costumes, Weasley merchandise, and fake food that looks so realistic and delicious, it made my stomach growl.
There was an interview to get to, though, so I pulled myself away and went to meet and interview James and Oliver Phelps. On the way to the interview, we were shown one of the giant chess pieces from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It was explained that there isn’t enough space in the actual exhibition, so a few larger items were placed in different locations. In addition to the chess piece in the lobby of TELUS World of Science, the knight Ron rides in Sorcerer’s Stone is located just past security at Edmonton International Airport, and the Ford Anglia is at Kingsway Mall, where you can also purchase tickets to the exhibition.
James and Oliver Phelps were funny and charming. They remarked about how cold Edmonton was, and we all felt their pain since -23 °C is hard for locals, let alone those who aren’t used to it! They answered all questions that we had and even signed our guidebooks and a picture before posing for our own pictures with them. They are in town for the opening weekend, and I was very grateful they could take the time to entertain our questions.
Harry Potter: The Exhibition is an incredible and magical experience. I expect to go multiple times throughout its run. Tickets range in price from $20 to $27 based on age, and for that price, it’s a must-see. The exhibit opens to the public on Saturday, November 23, 2013, and runs until March 9, 2014.