Reliving My Childhood at The Harry Potter Exhibition

“There was a lot more to magic, as Harry quickly found out,
than waving your wand and saying a few funny words.

— J.K. Rowling

I read each of the books at least five times, growing up with The Boy Who Lived and all of his magical friends.
I waited eagerly outside of a packed theater on opening night of the movies.
I participated in a Harry Potter book club in the fifth grade, proudly dressing up as Hermione Granger.
I cried when Sirius, Dobby, Aragog, Dumbledore, Severus, and Fred died.

*spoiler alert: if you want to attend the exhibit yourself, read this after so you will still be surprised!*


And just recently, I got to step into the world of Harry Potter at the exhibition.
Cued at the front of the line, my friend and I showed our ticket, grabbed a Gryffindor scarf and a wand, and got ready to duel. We dueled in front of Hogwarts, all lit up in the night, as well as in the grounds, and in the Great Hall.


When we reached the Sorting Hat, we waited eagerly as some of our new “classmates” hopped up onto the stool, the Headmistress placing the hat atop their heads. With quiet excitement, the Sorting Hat spoke and placed them all in their respectable houses.

As we walked through the exhibition, we marveled at all of the props set out for us to see, remarking at all of the detail put into props that sometimes were only seen for a moment in one film. Some sections were dedicated to specific characters: Hermione, Harry, Ron, Luna Lovegood, Neville, Professor Snape, Gilderoy Lockhart, Professor Umbridge and Trelawney too. Each section presented life-size mannequins featuring some of the costumes worn by the actors in the films. Harry and Ron’s dormitory was recreated for us, Snape’s potions laboratory was bubbling with elixirs, and the Marauder’s Map was right there before our very eyes.

The Marauder's Map, Harry's Photo Album, etc.

Moving along, we treaded carefully through the Forbidden Forest, saying hello to Bane the Centaur and being careful to stay cheerful for fear that we would catch the attention of the Dementors lurking about. Stepping out of the forest, we came to the grounds surrounding Hagrid’s Hut and took a few moments bonding with Buckbeak.



Entering Hagrid’s Hut, we watched as Norbert struggled to hatch from his egg on Hagrid’s kitchen table. A giant-sized depiction of Hagrid’s clothing was placed in the corner, and a giant-sized chair for you to take a quick rest. As we moved on, we realized we couldn’t come to the exhibit without trying our hand at a bit of Quidditch. Three goal posts were set up and we were able to grab a Quaffle and take our best shot. In the end, we earned 60 points for Gryffindor!

While it was certainly interesting to step in and take a look at what went into the creation of the beloved Harry Potter movie series, it left me with a small feeling of regret. Seeing everything in so much detail and reading about what went on behind-the-scenes ruined the mystery behind the films. Despite that, I will now eagerly accept any offers for someone to take me to the Harry Potter theme park in Orlando. Any takers? I make a fun travel buddy, I promise.


That Time I Visited The Same Café as J.K Rowling

Okay, so she wasn’t actually there at the same time I was. But she had been there before and this café was known for being the very café where J.K Rowling began writing Harry Potter.

The Elephant House is a café located in Edinburgh, Scotland and is the self-proclaimed Birthplace of Harry Potter. I am a Harry Potter fan. I will admit it with no shame because only the best people truly love Harry Potter. I was eleven when the first book came out, which Harry is eleven in as well, and I grew up eagerly waiting for the next book to be released; Only to finish it within a day or two. I have read each book multiple times as well as the movies although, as always, the books are much better. The books were my childhood, a series that I will always remember and most likely will continue to re-read again and again. I plan to read it out loud to my unborn child when that day comes.

When I found myself in Edinburgh three summers ago, I had to find this café. Luckily, I was traveling with two friends who were just as crazy about Harry Potter as I was, so that worked out well. Together, we searched the cobblestone streets high and low until we found The Elephant House. There are three wonderful things about this café: J.K Rowling wrote parts of Harry Potter there, the food is pretty cheap and delicious, and it is filled with elephants!

A very popular café in Edinburgh, the Elephant House can get quite crowded at times. Despite that, this café has a peaceful, sort of inspirational feel to it when you sit down there. My friends and I went there twice and each time we had a pleasant experience. Our second time there, we were seated in the back room next to a window at a rather large table for the four of us. As we were mulling over the menu, one of us noticed that this table had drawers that opened! Being the book-loving, cheesy-story-loving group that we were, we all got incredibly excited to find that within these drawers were what seemed like hundreds of letters.

What had been planned as a quick stop for lunch turned into hours spent going through all of the drawers and reading all of the letters within them. Letters from others who had been seated at this table, many of them from travelers. There were letters from people who were unsure of where to go in their life, letters of doubt, letters from people offering words of hope and encouragement, letters of happy things to put a smile on your face and letters of inspiration that made me want to do so many more things in my life.  Of course, we all left a letter of our own to tuck away in the drawers for the next person to read.

I thoroughly enjoyed my two experiences at The Elephant House. Although it has been made popular due to J.K Rowling’s having written there, it is charming for other reasons as well. I will leave it up to you to find out why.

*Breaking News: according to my brother, who also had the pleasure of visiting The Elephant House, there is a wall in the bathroom dedicated entirely to people writing lovely things about Harry Potter! Wishing I had gone into the bathrooms, now!*