The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

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The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer


The Wondrous World of Harry Potter, Explored in NYC’s Newest Exhibition

The self-guided walking tour celebrates the fantasy series through interactive experiences, real movie props and a behind-the-scenes view of how the franchise came together
Visitors activated their cards and selected their appropriate house: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw, or Hufflepuff, before playing interactive games during the walking tour to acquire points for their house. COURTESY OF HARRY POTTER: THE EXHIBITION

The Wizarding World of Harry Potter has continued to expand its presence in New York City. From Broadway’s “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” to the permanent Harry Potter store on 22nd St. between 5th Ave and Broadway, “Potterheads” constantly have new experiences to explore. Now, fans of the series have the opportunity to visit “Harry Potter: The Exhibition,” the latest expansion of the Wizarding World in New York City located at 50 W. 34th St.

The new exhibition is styled in a walking tour layout and celebrates the iconic franchise with the inclusion of props and costumes from the original “Harry Potter” movies, “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child,” and the “Fantastic Beasts” films. Visitors have the chance to learn about the behind-the-scenes of the movie-making experience: why certain fabrics were used, how costume and prop departments constructed objects used on set and more. 

The first two rooms of the exhibition consist of several videos acclimating the visitor to the experience. After these rooms, the rest of the exhibition is self-guided, with one room leading to another allowing for visitors to experience the entirety of the space at their own pace. 

Featured in the walking tour is a hallway of moving paintings as well as the original Hogwarts robes and character wands used on set and a mini replica of the Great Hall. 

In the exhibition, visitors are given a card that is activated at a kiosk. They’re able to provide their names and emails and choose a Hogwarts house (Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff), wand and patronus. The card is used to access interactive activities by placing it anywhere labeled with a golden snitch, allowing them to earn points for their house upon completion of tasks.

One of the many activities that can be activated with this card includes seeing your name displayed on a large marauders map and casting a spell in the “wands” room by tracing your spell on an interactive screen. 

There is also a chance to visit several Hogwarts classrooms and take a “Defense Against the Dark Arts” class. In the class, visitors have a chance to see the form of their boggart — a creature that assumes the form of what most frightens the person who encounters it — after answering questions on a screened wardrobe and are then allowed to cast the “riddikulus” spell on the shape-shifting creature.  

Real elements from the original Harry Potter movies, including props and costumes, were on display with description cards of their use for guests to read. COURTESY OF HARRY POTTER: THE EXHIBITION

Additionally within these classrooms is the divination room and the potions classroom where people have the opportunity to have their fortune told by looking closely into one of the several crystal balls on display and brew their own potions respectively. In the “Potions classroom” there are a variety of potions available such as Felix Felicis, Draught of Living Death, Polyjuice, Skele-Gro, or Amortentia. The right ingredients have to be chosen, or else the potion will explode and no points will be earned for the player’s house. 

Other activities such as throwing a quaffle into the hoops of a quidditch game, pulling a squealing mandrake out of its pot and traveling by portkey are available to visitors. These activities are hands-on and rely less on screens unlike the ones listed previously. However, these do not earn points for your house as they are not labeled with an interactive golden snitch. 

Although I would have preferred having more hands-on experiences throughout the exhibition rather than interactive elements that involved screens, I still enjoyed engaging with every task.

There are no restrictions to take photos throughout the exhibition and visitors can feel free to take these photos on their personal devices. Notable places to take photographs include one in Newt Scamander’s suitcase, a re-creation of the end battle scene in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2,” a seat in Hagrid’s comically large chair and Harry’s cupboard under the stairs.

There are also professional photo opportunities involving a green screen that one could purchase at the end of the exhibition. However, these photographs are expensive and — in my opinion — are not worth the price, especially with the abundance of fascinating spaces within the self-guided tour to take free photos through personal devices. 

If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan like me, this is definitely a must see. 

Throughout the exhibition, the films’ soundtracks play in the background, creating a perfectly whimsical Wizarding World ambience. Additionally, certain rooms are scented, with the outside of Hagrid’s Hut smelling of pine trees, making visitors feel as if they are next to the real Forbidden Forest. 

The experience was incredibly immersive, making me feel as if I stepped directly onto the set of the Potter films. Even with the many Potter experiences available throughout New York City, this exhibition was able to bring more magical energy that New York has not seen before. While in 2018, the New York Historical Society had its “Harry Potter: A History of Magic” exhibition, portraying how the Potter books came to life and the historical roots of every Hogwarts subject, this exhibition focuses on the films. Despite it being nearly 26 years since the birth of the timeless franchise in 1997 when “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” was first published, there is still so much to learn and experience regarding the beloved franchise

The self-guided tour takes about an hour to comfortably walk through, though it may take longer if one decides to observe and read each of the descriptions of the movie props. 

Before exiting, you can see how many points your house scored throughout the interactive experiences. After leaving the exhibition, visitors are led back to the gift shop through which they entered. 

The exhibition was previously in Philadelphia, Atlanta and Vienna, and is now making its way across the world. While it is currently open in New York City and Paris, the exhibition plans to open in Macau and Barcelona by the end of the year.

Although it does not come close to Universal’s Wizarding World in Orlando, the exhibition is still very enjoyable and worth the standard price of $35 — but not beyond that. If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan like me, this is definitely a must see. 

“Harry Potter: The Exhibition” runs until Oct. 15 in New York City. Tickets are available on the exhibition’s website, with a variety of options including timed, flex and VIP tickets. As someone who has visited the exhibition in both Philadelphia and New York, it’s best to purchase timed tickets on a Monday as there are fewer crowds and tickets are cheapest at a price of $30.

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LARA POPOVIC, Staff Writer

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