“Harry Potter: The Exhibition” Brings Interactive, Immersive Experience to New York
MuggleNet had the opportunity to preview Harry Potter: The Exhibition before it opened in New York City this week. Combining historic pieces like those seen at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter with the ability to try out a little bit of magic, the exhibit has something for everyone, from kids to film buffs to fans who just want to feel like they’re in the wizarding world for a little while.
The experience is really what you make it. You’ll be there for about 90 minutes if you take your time. For some, there may be a little too much emphasis on the design and interactivity, burying the actual behind-the-scenes content, while others who prefer the visuals might skip over the written information. If you’re interested in the inspiration behind costumes and props or what the cast and crew had to say about them, you’ll want to take the time to stop and read. It’s worth lingering to take in all the details, both visual and written.
Before entering the exhibit, you register with your name and photo and choose a Hogwarts House, wand, and Patronus. You’ll be given a Golden Snitch–themed bracelet with a chip that you tap to access the various interactive experiences, which can be done only once per person.
After an opportunity to take another photo that will be transposed onto wizarding backgrounds and available for purchase at the end of your visit, the exhibit begins in a dark room with Marauder’s Map art, a first-edition copy of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and some trivia followed by a video to set the mood. The next room is a lighter version of the map, on which your name will appear when you tap your bracelet. A video shows the changing seasons at Hogwarts, and then it’s time to enter the castle!
Moving portraits line the walls leading to the Sorting Hat and interactive screens where you can have your own Sorting ceremony. Behind stunning stained glass windows for each House are costumes and props, such as Luna Lovegood’s iconic fashion for Ravenclaw and the sword of Godric Gryffindor.
Next, you’re off to Ollivanders, where wands of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts characters are displayed alongside massive, ten-foot-tall recreations of each. Try a bit of spellcasting!
Through another archway is the Great Hall, complete with floating candles above House tables. Now it’s time to begin your classes: Potions, where you’ll brew an elixir; Divination (look into a crystal ball); Herbology (repot a mandrake); and Defense Against the Dark Arts (banish a boggart). Out on the grounds, you’ll cast a Patronus.
The Triwizard Tournament section features the champions’ costumes (with an entertaining quote from Viktor Krum actor Stanislav Yanevski about how his outfit made him feel “pimped out, as the Americans say”), the Triwizard Cup, the Goblet of Fire, and an enormous dragon protecting a golden egg. Where there are dragons, there must be Hagrid, whose hut is full of musty, natural smells. You can sit in his gigantic chair before continuing to the Quidditch pitch, where you can see players’ uniforms and shoot a Quaffle through the hoops.
A Fantastic Beasts section is particularly appropriate in New York (pose in Newt’s suitcase). Then take a trip by Portkey and head to the Ministry of Magic. Hermione’s purple costume from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is here as well as a horrifyingly pink office that can only belong to Dolores Umbridge. Visit Privet Drive before you dive back into the depths of Hogwarts for the Chamber of Secrets.
After an area devoted to Lord Voldemort, it’s time for the Battle of Hogwarts, which you can recreate by taking hold of Harry’s and Voldemort’s wands. Before you leave, look back on the memories you’ve made in the Pensieve in Dumbledore’s office. As you exit, you’ll see which House has earned the most points from the interactive tasks. Of course, there’s a shop filled with official merchandise downstairs, which you can also visit without a ticket.
Harry Potter: The Exhibition uses a blend of nostalgia and modern innovation to offer a new way back into the wizarding world. Tickets are available for New York now.