We were guided forward and were greeted by 8 long, framed movie posters. We all stood about admiring them; suddenly, we realized they were much more than that. Rather than movie posters, they were actually screens that begin to flicker beautifully choreographed movie montages from the films. After a few moments, we moved off to the left and came upon a big black curtain. A second later, the familiar sound of the Hogwarts Express blowing its horn presented itself to our ears and the curtain opened dramatically, to expose the high beams of the lead car of the Hogwarts Express. I don’t know about anyone else, but I was getting goosebumps, I could feel I was about to witness history in the making and see something truly special.
We moved forward expectantly and a wall of pictures greeted us, and yes, some of them were even moving. The singing, or screeching in some cases, lady on the door that guards the door to the girls’ dormitory was present as well. She’s still trying to break that wine glass with her voice. It’s nice to know that some things never change, and I smiled to myself. I want to point out now, that there is also an audio tour to accompany the exhibition. However, and unfortunately, this was not available to us at the time. More on this later.
The first actual display we encountered were the Gryffindor uniforms for Hermione, Ginny, and Neville. Somewhere in the vicinity of each’s respective uniform, was a glass case holding their personal possessions. Hermione’s case contained the Time Turner, her wand, some DA parchment, and other small things. Her casual clothes from OOTP were also in this display, and I took immediate notice that Emma Watson is sincerely a tiny little thing, and not much taller than I am, which surprised me quite a lot (I’m only about five feet tall). One of Neville’s personal artifacts present were the Mimbulus Mimbletonia from OOTP, which made me start laughing right there in the middle of the exhibit. It amused me, even if it wasn’t pulsating and jiggling. Some items from the common room were included with Ginny and Neville’s items.
Across the way are Harry and Ron’s uniforms, their beds, casual clothing, and personal things. I would like to add before I go on, that there are small movie screens dispersed throughout the exhibit, playing scenes from the movies pertaining to the the particular display you are looking at. Now, we were told by Eddie Newquist in the roundtable discussion, the gentleman that helped arrange this exhibit, that there is a very short scene from HBP playing somewhere in the exhibit. And it’s not a scene from any of the trailers either! He wouldn’t tell us where, as obviously that would ruin the surprise. But I just wanted to let you know, so you can go hunting for it when you get there, and you can let me know! But I digress. In the glass case for Harry, are his precious possessions, which include his glasses, the acceptance letter to Hogwarts from SS, and various other things. However, there was one item in particular that caught my attention immediately. It was the pink and red ruffled box of enchanted chocolates from HBP! Another quick note to make before you enter the exhibit, keep your eyes peeled for any items from HBP, these are subtly tucked away in various parts of the exhibit, in places you might not expect to find them. Man, these folks are clever!
In any case, as you move away from Harry’s personal items, you see his school uniform, his bed, and casual clothes from OOTP. The Golden Egg from GOF stands brilliantly in the middle of the display, in it’s own glass home. Behind this, stands a wonderfully worn-looking antique(at least it looked that way)chest of drawers. This is decorated with posters and flags of the Chuddley Cannons Quidditch team, Ron’s favorite, of course! Also sitting on the dresser is a large bag of candies from Honeydukes. Off to the side, is Ron’s school uniform. What caught my attention the most, were the black shoes. They were scuffed up at the toe, and I know now that Rupert has very wide feet, indeed! His uniform was noticeably much wider than Harry’s as well. Standing next to his uniform, was Ron’s bed. Which looks much narrower than it does in the movies, and was not adorned with a Chudley Cannon’s blanket, unfortunately. On the other side of the bed, was the hideous jumper with the big red W and the wool cap from POA. The glass case that housed Ron’s possessions had his broken wand from COS, a copy of “Seeker Weekly”, various books on becoming a seeker and the Chudley Cannons, the howler from COS, and a T-shirt with the Chudley Cannons team logo. It had been autographed by numerous people, among them was, “Ron! Together forever!”, and “Ron! Snitch On!”.
Moving further into the exhibit, we came upon Professor Trelawney’s display. This contained her robes, crystal ball, books on divination and telling the future, and the now famous tea cup that shows the Grim in the tea leaves from POA.
Next, are the Potions teachers’ display. So far, this display had impressed me the most. You see Professor Snape’s robes. And I must say, that even though Alan Rickman was currently not wearing them, he must have left a bit of his intimidation factor inside of them. As I stood there looking at the robes, I nearly half expected them to take a life all their own and march over to me, demanding to know why I wasn’t in bed, or threaten me with a dose of Veritaserum! Professor Slughorn’s robes stood next to Snape’s, looking decidedly far more jolly. In one glass case, it contained various bottles, tubes, and bubbling beakers of mystery liquid. Another case on the opposite side housed Professor Snape and Professor Slughorn’s wands, some beazors, and a cauldron. Behind the Professors’ robes, stood a magnificent shelf of massive glass jars of various herbs and other things used in spells. All of these were precisely labeled, and none looked the same. The attention to detail was impressive.
Professor Lockhart’s display was not to be forgotten, of course, and a perfect representation of megalomania if ever I’d seen one. Lockhart’s regular robes and his dueling robes are here, with a glass case housing a deceptively cute Cornish pixie in the middle. On one side of the display, a case with test questions pertaining to him could be seen. On the other side, were books that he’s written, pictures of himself, and his wand.
Deeper still into the exhibit, we approached Dolores Umbridge’s section. It was nearly all in that obnoxious shade of pink, with the walls decorated with the plates of all her “spy” kittens and cats. None of them were moving though, which comforted me a bit, because I would have been completely creeped out if any of them had meowed or moved out of the frame of the plate. Her horrid, fuzzy pink outfit stood, hauty and taunting, behind her desk. Off to the side was a glass case, sitting on a detention desk, with the quill and parchment used to “punish” Harry and the other students who had gotten detention for not telling her the truth about the DA. And yes, the parchment had “I must not tell lies” written in red.
Across from her is Professor Lupin’s robes, the giant Jack in the Box, and the boggart wardrobe from POA. His personal belongings were his wand and two records of “The Wizard’s Waltz”, still in the sleeves.
Professor Sprout makes an appearance as well. In it are her robes, and various other items. The best part, by far, about her display is the huge table of Mandrakes. This is one of the parts of the exhibit that allows you to get personally involved and touchy-feely. You can pull up a Mandrake from a pot, and it actually does scream. Which was brilliant and made me quite happy!
Moving along, stood a huge case of Quidditch-related things, such as Harry’s Nimbus 2000 broom, Malfoy’s Nimbus 2001 broom, and the unusual glass telescope Ron was looking through at the World Cup of Quidditch game in GOF. Next to this is a mini-game of Quidditch, which you can throw an actual Quaffle into one of the three rings! The quaffle was made of leather, and felt funny in my hands, due to the odd shape. I thought this was another stroke of genius that the creators of the exhibit had come up with, because I’m sure everyone will want to try to throw a quaffle! I know I did.
Keeping on the Quidditch theme, you are greeted by a massive display of trophies won, and almost everyone’s Quidditch uniform: Vicktor Krum, Harry, Madame Hooch, Oliver Wood, Cedric Diggory, Malfoy, and of course, Ron’s uniform. I was marveling at how Rupert could have even moved in any of this, because it looked like an absurd amount for one person to be wearing at once and still be able to function any of your extremities properly. The shoulder pads, chestpiece, leg guards, and even the helmet were all there for me to gawk at. An interesting note, Ron is the only one in the display who has a helmet, which I found strange. Plus, it seemed extraordinarily small, it may have been the angle in which I was looking at it. In any case, it only reminded me that in three short months, we’ll be able to actually watch Ron do his thing he does so well! Weasley is our King, indeed!
Next up are Harry, Hermione, and Ron’s casual clothes from POA. As you’ll well remember, the trio get a lot of physical action in this movie, and the clothes prove it. Everyone’s threads still have some dirt clinging on, but Ron’s was the worst, obviously. As he had been dragged along the grass towards the Whomping Willow by Sirius in his dog form. I would dare say his clothes looked really manky and had not been washed. At all. Unfortunately, I could not tell from such a few feet of distance, if it stunk or not, but they sure looked as if they did. Another note, is that I noticed how much Rupert has grown since POA. Compared to the Quidditch uniform, Ron’s outfit in this particular display looked like a little kid’s. Also accompanying the trio’s casual clothes, is Buckbeak, the executioner’s clothes, and the scarecrow.
Another portion of the exhibit that is interactive is Hagrid’s Hut. Seeing Robbie Coltrane’s monstrous visage as Hagrid in any of the movies simply does not do him any justice at all. You’ll see what I mean when you finally get to stand next to his clothes, you’ll gain a…bigger perspective. I’m very short in stature myself, but I saw a few people who’s eyes were traveling a very long distance, and a few of us were looking straight up. No kidding. Adorning his hut, are cages of various sizes, hanging on the walls and the ceiling. The dragon’s egg from SS sits on a table. The interactive part is the chair, that was made in heaven, I’m almost certain. You can sit in Hagrid’s enormous chair, which is probably the most comfortable thing I’ve ever parked my bottom in. I lingered for a while, taking it all in and making notes as my feet dangled at least eight inches off the floor. As I was about to take the last few steps out of the hut, the floor creaked underneath my feet. I grinned to myself and thought how utterly awesome this exhibit was.
I want to point out now, that as you get deeper into the exhibit, the displays start to contain decidedly darker subject matter. Next to Hagrid’s Hut, you encounter the creatures that Hagrid knows so well, who inhabit the Dark Forest. A couple of Centaurs stand, regal yet threatening; an Acromantula perched on the bottom of a tree, with it’s black eyes shining; a baby thestral, looking haunted and serene, and the feirce Hungarian Horntail dragon in mid-screech.
Moving along further into partial darkness, the school uniform of Tom Riddle, his diary, Colin Creevey’s camera, and a petrified Colin, with his hands and fingers still gripping the camera that isn’t there, greet you quietly.
Two of the chess pieces from SS stand at either end of another hall, including the knight that Ron sat on and ultimately fell off of, to win the game of wizard’s chess and save Harry and Hermione. In between the pieces, are Harry’s casual clothes from SS; and a glass case that houses the shimmering red Sorcerer’s Stone and one of the flying keys. And across the way, the Angel of Death statue from GOF, silently waiting.
You turn a corner, and see the wanted posters for escaped Azkaban prisoners, including Sirius Black and Bellatrix Lestrange. Which aren’t moving, but are still impressive to look at, nonetheless.
Moving down the hall, I was being sucked in by how the exhibit was set up, and how I was unconsciously being cautious. Lord Voldemort’s robes billowed in unseen breezes of those of us who were quietly walking about. His wand glowed rather eerily in it’s glass case. A Death Eater’s robes and masks also accompanied the display. Across the way, was a dementor, an Azkaban prison uniform, Bellatrix’s uniform, and Kreacher.
Turning another corner, the Wall of Decrees from OoTP. Down the hall, is the Bloody Baron’s robes.
However, the exhibit doesn’t leave you in a state of darkness. At the very end of the exhibit, you are greeted happily by the lightness of the Great Hall. You can see Percy Weasley’s uniform, Fred and George’s uniform. Across the way is Fawkes, Dumbledore and McGonagall’s robes, and a case contains their wands. Sirius Black and Nymphadora’s clothes, as well as their wands.
The Yule Ball display shines as it did in GOF. I must admit, there were a lot of dress robes and dresses in this display, including Harry’s and Hermione’s beautiful dress. But I was most interested in Ron’s horrific get up, that required my utmost attention. So, this is where I stayed for quite a while. The detail in Ron’s dress robes truly cannot be seen or captured on screen, regardless if you saw it in a theatre or on a high definition DVD/TV at home. Remember the long, brown dress coat? Of course, you do. The flowers are a darker shade of brown velvet and stand up higher than the rest of the coat. The best way for me to explain it would be to compare it to a curtain. If you’ve ever been in a very old museum, house, or library, you’ll know what I’m trying to say. Old places with the tall, ceiling to floor windows usually have these massive, thick curtains with intricate designs that stand up higher than the rest of the curtain. It’s as if Molly Weasley found these type of curtains, cut them out and made her Ron a coat for the Yule Ball! The pale pink vest underneath the coat had much finer, delicate detail of flowers. The white shirt with the ruffled collar had darker pink edges, that looks as if someone crocheted it onto a poet’s shirt. The dark green velvet bow tie looks as if it’s trying to hard to be a tie and belies that it might just be a lot of velvet bunched up together rather haphazardly. The pants were okay and the boots were really scuffed up, and again, wide and very large. It’s the most wonderfully and atrociously detailed outfit in the entire exhibit, I think. I so desperately wanted to touch it, but this particular display was not interactive, unfortunately. And if I had a magnifying glass on me, you can guarantee that I would have used it. I often found myself leaning over the barricade to get a close look at all the detail in it. I just kept shaking my head, walking a couple steps away, and then walking towards it again. It’s ugly and wonderful, all at once. I can definitely understand now what Rupert meant when he said that Ron’s dress robes were hideous and somehow, kind of cool, too.
At the end of our incredible journey through the exhibit, we passed some pictures. Two of them have ecstatic grins on their faces, are applauding wildly, and cheering. Which is how I felt, I wanted to yell, clap, run around the building and do it all over again!
And in case you’re wondering, there is indeed a gift shop. I wish I could tell you every little thing is available for sale, but the folks in charge of the exhibition tour were rushing us out because we were due to have the roundtable discussion and we were running a bit late, for obvious reasons. What I can tell you is that there are a lot of cool things to buy like T-shirts, dolls, posters, DVDs, candy, tiny recreations of the props from the movies, and a lot of other things. Plus, the other sites being represented at the preview of the exhibition and myself, were told on good word that there are some previously discontinued items for sale, and other things that are exclusive to the exhibit itself. Also, for future reference, you might want to save up, or give up your lunch/dinner money for the gift shop.
I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my review of the Harry Potter exhibit, because I certainly enjoyed traveling to see it and writing the review. As I was writing this, I had the entire tour playing out in my head and it’s something I will never, ever forget. I urge anyone who’s read this review here, or any other review at another site, to run, not walk to go see this exhibit!!! Any words we have said about this cannot come close to actually seeing and experiencing it for yourself. A lot of love, hard work, care, and passion went into putting this together, and I’m not just taking about putting together the exhibit either. Remember how anyone who’s ever worked on a Harry Potter movie set says, “it’s magic.” I never really understood the meaning of that, but now I do. The magic, it’s in that exhibit. It is something you can feel, see, and touch.