Hello g33ks and m33ks, hope you all survive the Great Slumber Party Civil War of 2011. On Friday April 1st I was lucky enough to attend the preview weekend of Harry Potter The Exhibition at Discovery Times Square in Manhattan. This event is something I have been looking forward to for quite some time and I know other members of the g33kwatch staff were extremely jealous that they were unable to attend with me.
The Discovery Times Center itself is easy enough to find, a short hop from the 42nd street subway stop or a brisk walk from NY Penn Station. It is smack dab in the center of the Theatre District and a short walk from restaurants like Sardis and gourmet fast food stop Shake Shack. This is a perfect location for a day out in the city, although most NYers and members of the Bridge and Tunnel think of Times Square as a large tourist trap it can be fun once in a while to spend some time in the shiny glitzy madness. I advise the purchase of advance tix for this event since groups are let in at set times, and I imagine that when its full the wait in the standby line could be enormous.
To begin the experience any other way that with the Sorting Hat would be a complete letdown, and in our tour 3 lucky new students were sorted into Hogwarts. Two Gryffindors and a Ravenclaw added to our tour we entered into a screening room where we were shown a montage from all the Harry Potter films. The video ends with the sounds of the Hogwarts Express and the wall opens to reveal the train, steaming in front of us and admittedly raising the bar on my expectations of what I would be seeing during this tour.
We leave the train and entered the hallway outside the Gryffindor common room. All the paintings we’ve come to know over time are there with several that move as in the films. Past the Fat Lady we enter the room proper and inside are house robes for Harry Ron and Hermione, the four poster beds, Ron’s terrible sweater, the Marauder’s Map, Harry’s wand and tons more props. The rest of the setups include Classrooms, Quidditch, Hagrid’s Hut, The Forbidden Forrest, The Death Eaters, and The Great Hall.
I’m going to list some of my favorite items I saw personally but these are not all that there is to see. The life size painting of Gilderoy Lockheart in which he is painting himself is amazing. Great care is made to showcase all the wands of all the important wizards, including Ron’s broken wand fixed with Spell-O-Tape, Voldemort’s claw hooked wand, Sirius Black’s filled with runes and Lucius Malfoy’s cane wand. The Head of the Hungarian Horntail greets you in the Forbidden Forrest as does Aragog, two items I never would have believed were practical effects. The Death Eater’s masks are all distinct and a Dementor lurks in the corner with a cold wind blowing near it. Quidditch robes from each Hogwarts house, the jet black and chrome Nimbus 2001 (my personal Harry Potter item I wish I owned $300?!), Ireland and Bulgaria team robes and even silk screens showing each team in the Quidditch World Cup. In Hagrid’s Hut you’ll see how small you are or how large Hagrid is when you sit in his armchair and in the Great Hall you can see all of the formal robes worn to the Winter Ball, The Triwizard Cup, Dumbledore’s robes, and Fawkes the Phoenix. I haven’t even broached half the items in this exhibit. Pulling Mandrakes from pots and tossing some Quidditch goals give the young or the eternally young a chance to feel some of the Harry Potter universe as you are not allowed to touch almost anything in the tour.
The whole tour itself takes about an hour at a leisurely pace, a bit longer if you use the audio tour as you’ll be cueing up insights from set designers, filmmakers, costumers and others involved in the creation of each of these pieces of art. The audio tour is priced at 7 dollars and has a ton of information about all the pieces they highlight. The only issue is I was on the tour with a friend and as we are big fans with a lot of HP knowledge it took away from our pointing and laughing to stop and listen to the audio. Its up to you to decide what you’d like to do in regards to the audio tour but it does give insight into why they did things like build an entire dragon head, or why Snape’s robes haven’t changed since the first film.
At the end of the tour comes an opportunity to purchase a number of items that would be difficult to find anywhere else other than The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Fl or ebay. Aside from the usual assortment of tshirts, ties, and scarves you can find the wand of your favorite wizard, buy a wizard chess set or even purchase a Nimbus 2001 for your favorite g33kWatch reporter.
There were people in our group from Ohio, Texas, Kentucky and London. Every one of them the type of Potterhead that made going through the exhibit more fun as they pointed out their favorites while we pointed out our own. The kids in attendance had smiles on their faces that brightened the cold rainy Spring day outside. I would recommend that if you are in the tristate area or planning a trip to NYC that you make some time for this exhibit. Tickets are $26 for adults and $20.50 for kids seniors get a few dollars discount and the Exhibit will be in town until September 5th. It is an experience and a half especially if you love these movies want to know what its like to walk through that world even if it is for just an hour. (Where’s my time turner?)