“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.
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.