Monday, August 1, 2011

Harry Potter Exhibit: 44th St between 7th and 8th Aves

The exhibit is viewable from April 5-September 5, 2011 at the Discovery Times Square Exhibition Center (they had a mummy exhibit last year and are also currently showing an exhibit about Pompeii). They have hundreds of costumes and props from the movies so if you are a fan of the books or the movies, this is an opportunity not to be missed.

Expect to spend about 30-45 minutes in line and in the first couple of rooms (the first is a re-creation of the sorting hat scene from the first movie ("The Sorcerer's Stone") with volunteers from the audience and the second shows scenes from the various movies and then opens up to a re-creation of the Hogwarts Express train station that is very realistic with fog and everything).

Harry Potter™'s wand, eyeglasses, photo album, Hogwarts acceptance letter, and
the Marauder™'s Map (from Fred and George Weasley in the "Prisoner of Azkaban")
After going through some archways, you are in the halls of Gryffindor, with some paintings that "move" (its actually just video playing on framed screens), including the fat lady who guards the Gryffindor entry and repeats the glass shattering scene she did in the movie "Chamber of Secrets". 

Harry Potter™ &© Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Harry Potter™ and Ron Weasley™'s dormitory room with uniforms,
casual clothes, and the golden egg from "The Goblet of Fire"
My niece, who is 16 and is starting to look at colleges, said that she thought a college could attract more candidates if they modeled their dormitories like Hogwarts.  I don't think I would have gone that far, but I have to say that there were a lot of visitors who didn't come to escort children.  No, this is not just for kids.  This is for any Harry Potter fan--young and old.

There were scenes and creatures from the Forbidden Forest, like Buckbeak, the Acromantula, centaur and a baby Thestral. Also there is a re-creation of Hagrid’s Hut with his clothing, a dragon egg that shakes like it is going to hatch (it doesn't) and a Hagrid-sized chair you can sit in (but no photography is allowed at all in the exhibit).  They had a Quidditch set and the rules posted, and you can try your hand at throwing a Quaffle into the hoop (we skipped this, as it was more like a cheap game at a fair). It was neat to see Harry’s Nimbus 2000 (before it was broken) and Draco Malfoy's Nimbus 2001 (which looked plastic).

Kids pulling up screaming Mandrakes in the Herbology area. 
Professor Sprout's costume is in the background
Younger visitors seemed to enjoy pulling up the screaming mandrakes (see left), but to be honest, all I could think of were the sticky hands that probably touched these things before me and I did not think I had enough Purell in my purse to get me through it so I passed.

Kreacher™, the evil Black family house-elf who
appears first in the Order of the Phoenix.
Toward the end, there is a room that displays the costumes and props related to the evil characters (see Kreacher at right).  There is Lucius Malfoy, Bellatrix LeStrange, and of course, Voldemort's costumes and wands.  There are also examples of the horcruxes, including the Tom Riddle diary (with the Basilisk fang and venom that destroyed it), the Salazar Slytherin's locket, and the Helga Hufflepuff's cup.

The last room included costumes and place settings from the Yule Ball (including the beautiful dresses of Cho and Hermoine), the Triwizard cup and the main costumes for each of the three other champions (Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacour (later wife of Bill Weasley), and Viktor Krum), examples of the candy highlighted in various movies, costumes (including wands) of all of the major adult characters like Albus Dumbledore, Professor McGonagall, Nymphadora Tonks, Sirius Black, Dolores Umbridge, Professor Snape, and the list goes on and on.

Finally, as with most amusement parks and museums, the exit requires a visit through a gift shop.  Of course, items are pricey so you'll have to prepare young visitors in advance if you want to avoid dropping a bundle here--it is well stocked and very tempting.

There are $7 audio guides, but had heard that they were not worth the money and were hard to hear with all the noise so we skipped them (frankly, I thought that the entrance fee of $27 for adults, $19.50 for kids, and $23.50 for seniors should include them).  In any event, we did  not miss them for the couple of hours we spent here, as the signage was great and easy to read.  For discount tickets, use code STIXHHPE to get $4.50 off adult tickets ($2 off senior tix)  for Monday –Friday entrance at the box office or on, try CONHPE with flyers available at certain hotels or YMCAs at the box office or online at Tickets for $4 off adult tickets, or try CTMHPE with flyers you can pick up for free at tourist kiosks like at the Port Authority bus terminal for 10% off at the box office or on the phone.  Remember, there are online and phone convenience fees of $3.50 so discounts basically only help cover those costs if you go that route.

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