If you’re a Harry Potter fan, go see this exhibit. The wizarding world of Harry Potter is filled with items you just can’t find in the muggle world, so this may be your only opportunity to see, for example, an issue of The Quibbler, or the pattern on the invisibility cloak.
The exhibit begins in a small room with a guide who sorted some of us using the famous sorting hat. “What’s your favorite house?” She asked each person as they sat on her stool. The hat ALWAYS sorted the person into their favorite house hummmm… wonder how that happened…
The main exhibit began in a circular room suggesting platform 9¾ (the train seems to be just pulling in) with video screens playing snippets of the movies. We walked through halls reminiscent of Hogwarts complete with moving-picture frames on the walls. There was even a large picture of the fat lady attempting to break a wine glass with her operatic voice… There were props from all movies (with the last conspicuously absent, of course). There were large items (Buckbeak), small items (Hermoine’s Yule Ball earrings), items critical to the plot (the time turner necklace) and others, not at all critical (a bottle of Pumpkin Juice, and an issue of a quiddich magazine that I can’t even remember the name of), but interesting to see up close. What were all the proclamations made by Dolores Umbridge while she was the high inquisitor? How about, “Girls and Boys are strictly prohibited from being closer than 8 inches to each other.” I think we could use that proclamation in some other schools!
There was a hefty showing of clothing, and if you’re like me and you love costumes, you’ll really appreciate this. The boys of our group breezed through this section. Clothes? What clothes? While a fair amount of “regular” clothing is on display, there is probably a greater amount of unusual clothing items on display here. You can finally see just how hideous Ron’s dress robes for the Yule Ball really are, and since Victor Krum’s outfit is even more dashing in person, Ron’s abject misery at the party takes on new meaning. Want to see Dumbledor’s Yuleball outfit? Did you realize that Bellatrix LaStrange has a custom fitted leather dagger holder on the side of her black leather pieced corset? Did you expect Hagrid to be quite THAT big? Bet you didn’t realize that the Irish quidditch players looked like knights of the round table, did you?
But it’s not only about the clothing. You can see the beakers and storage jars from the potions lab, the box of chocolates that cause Ron to fall hopelessly in love, every sort of quidditch item you can imagine including the Nimbus 2000 and the Nimbus 2001, wands from every important character, and of course, horcruxes. My kids are pretty big fans, so they moved through the exhibit at a careful pace, checking out everything and lingering on their favorite items. My son carefully avoided the GIGANTIC spider with the hairy legs which was quite lifelike if spiders were the size of Smart Cars. The kids who had not watched the movies as often zipped through the exhibit quicker and lingered in the quaffle-toss area, tossing quaffles through some sample quiddich hoops to test their skills.
After wandering happily through the museum, we landed in the gift shop, which had some great items but most of the stuff I was really interested in was not inexpensive. The wands, really nice and exceptionally realistic (although not realistic enough to conjure a Patronus), were all 45.00, as were copies of the Maurader’s Map (a large piece of paper? 45.00?), and the neckties for each house. Much as I loved them I could not see spending 45.00 on a striped necktie with the Griffindor crest. Still, I was able to find a nice mousepad for my desk at work, and my daughter got a miniature Hedwig in her cage with a mini Hedwig sticker book, and my son got a pen with the Griffindor griffin on the top. Oh, and although we may have been able to get it somewhere else for slightly less money, we got the movie we were missing: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. Now we can’t wait to go to Universal Studios to see Hogwarts. And I can’t wait to sew some more costumes.