Review: “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” Opens in Madrid
by María Camacho Texeira
Translated by Felicia Grady
On Sunday, November 26, I had the opportunity to visit Harry Potter: The Exhibition in Madrid, located in IFEMA’s Pavilion I. Before starting your visit, you can take a couple of photos with the flying Ford Anglia, modified by Arthur Weasley.
You begin to feel the magic as you’re impatiently waiting to enter (in groups of 15–20 people) and discover the wonderful contraptions and costumes used in the film series. Once you walk through the door, there is a wizard (along with the Sorting Hat) waiting for you to start the Sorting Ceremony, which will decide which of the four Houses you belong in, at least for those visitors lucky enough to get the chance to place the Sorting Hat on their heads. Be warned! It can hear your thoughts so that it Sort you in the right House! I didn’t raise my hand fast enough to be chosen for the Sorting Hat to tell me which House I belong in, but I’m certain that it would have Sorted me into Gryffindor.
An enormous set of doors is opened, and there are screens on which some of the different scenes from the Harry Potter movies are being played. Then you enter a room where the Hogwarts Express is waiting, making you feel as if you have traveled from platform nine-and-three-quarters in King’s Cross station in London to the village of Hogsmeade. You really feel like you’re in a magical place since all the lights are out except the ones on the train and the dim streetlights, and you can just make out a thin layer of smoke drifting throughout the room.
Behind the train, another wizard opens the doors to the first room of the exhibition, which contains the portrait of the Fat Lady, who gives you access to Gryffindor Tower and the common room, where you can see the part of the dormitory with Harry’s and Ron’s beds and some of the objects associated with this House, such as the golden egg and the House robes. In this part of the exhibition, you feel like a Hogwarts student as you stop by some of the iconic set pieces, like Dolores Umbridge’s office, decorated entirely in pink. You also have the opportunity to take part in some of the classes offered at Hogwarts: In Professor Sybill Trelawney’s Divination class, you can see the Grim in the teacup or try to predict the future by gazing into an enormous crystal ball. In Potions, you can learn about some of the magical ingredients the students use in their classes and various tools used to brew them. In Herbology, you can visit Neville Longbottom’s garden or risk pulling out a mandrake and hearing its cry. Cover your ears!
In the next room of the exhibition, you can take part in the most popular sport in the magical community: Quidditch. You can experience the atmosphere of a match, try to score points for your House by throwing a Quaffle through the hoops, and see the Quidditch robes worn by different characters, such as Oliver Wood, Draco Malfoy, and Cedric Diggory. A showcase displays objects related to this sport, such as the brooms used in the match and the famous Golden Snitch with its fantastic wings.
It gets slightly darker as you enter the Forbidden Forest, where you visit some of the creatures that live there, such as Buckbeak the hippogriff and Aragog. Don’t leave the Forbidden Forest without stopping by Hagrid’s hut, where you can sit in a huge armchair like Harry, Ron, and Hermione and look at all the contraptions inside, including the dragon egg that Hagrid won at the Hog’s Head pub.
The next room is the “Dark World of He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named,” steeped in a mysterious aura that really makes you feel the darkness surrounding Lord Voldemort. If you look closely, you can make out the Dark Mark on one of the walls, see the Sorcerer’s Stone up close, and study the winged key Harry had to catch to open one of the underground chambers. The Death Eater props, including some of the characters’ different masks and costumes, were no less impressive. This room also contains the imposing figure of a Dementor flying over Hogwarts and the opportunity to see some of Voldemort’s Horcruxes up close.
You enter the last room of the exhibition through the enormous doors to Hogwarts’ Great Hall, a particularly magical place full of items from the books and the films, such as the outfits worn by Harry, Ron, Hermione, and Viktor Krum during the Yule Ball and the Triwizard Cup, which was later turned into a Portkey that brought Harry and Cedric to the cemetery where He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named was waiting.
This part of the exhibition also displays something very special: the three highly powerful objects that make up the Deathly Hallows, or the Elder Wand, the Resurrection Stone, and the Invisibility Cloak that Harry and his friends used so many times throughout the series.
Finally, you pass through a hallway where you can see the Sword of Gryffindor, and the exhibition ends in a gift shop, where you can buy every kind of merchandise related to the series, from wands to Chocolate Frogs to T-shirts.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, this is definitely an exhibition you have to visit!