Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Matthew Lewis AKA Neville Longbottom poses with one of his costumes at the Pacific Science Center

Ever since Warner Bros first announced a touring Harry Potter exhibit, that would feature costumes and props from the movie, back in 2008, fans have been eager to get a chance to see the exhibit. Since then, it’s gotten sightly eclipsed by the new theme park in Florida. Personally, if the Wizarding World of Harry Potter is half as good as the exhibit, then get me on a plane to Florida, because this exhibit is truly magical.

The exhibit, which is currently at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, features some 200 props and costumes as well as recreations of sets from the Harry Potter movies. After waiting in line, you’ll be guided inside, where you are greeted by a Harry Potter lookalike standing next to a stool with the sorting hat. There, some visitors can get the chance to try on the sorting hat and get sorted into one of the four Hogwarts houses. Although, given that everybody who was asked which house they wanted to be in happened to get into those houses (no Slytherin or Hufflepuffs in the mix), I’m inclined to think that the sorting was more than a little suspect.

Further down, you pass a model of the Hogwarts Express and are greeted by a figure with a lantern beckoning first years. No, not Hagrid, but still cool nonetheless. And you even get to see a baby thestral! The Harry Potter exhibit takes around an hour to get through, but you can certainly spend as much time as you want, and believe me, you’ll want to, as there’s is so much to see. There’s the recreation of Hagrid’s hut, complete with a dragon’s egg that looks suspiciously as though it is about to hatch. Alas, I did not see any rock cakes, but maybe that’s for the best. Away from Hagrid’s hut, you’ll find a display of Buckbeak the Hippogriff standing in a pumpkin patch.

You’ll have to go past the fat lady’s portrait to go into the Gryffindor common room where you’ll get to see more costumes, the boys dormitory in Gryffindor tower and props such as Ron’s broken wand, kept together with spello-tape. There’s also a chance to visit Professor Snape’s dungeon for more interesting props including a vial of Felix Felicis potion. The Great Hall is another impressive sight, with realistic looking floating candles, and a display of costumes from the Yule Ball.

Outside the castle, you can visit Professor Sprout’s greenhouse and pull out your own screaming mandrake roots- no earmuffs necessary. Elsewhere, you can try your hand at Quidditch. And then of course there’s the Forbidden Forest which is easily the spookiest set, with centaurs, and even an acromantula.

Are there any things I was disappointed not to see at the Harry Potter exhibit? I had heard reports of the Blue Ford Anglia, but alas, for some reason, that particular prop was AWOL. I also would’ve liked to have seen a Whomping Willow in the Forbidden Forest. Probably the thing I was most bummed about though was not getting to see a recreation of Dumbledore’s office. In truth, I don’t remember much about what it looked like in the movies, but I do so have strong images of spindle legged tables and silver instruments. However, Fawkes was on hand, so that did make up for it.

The exhibit will be at the Pacific Science Center in Seattle, WA until 13th February 2011. It’s the last leg of the U.S. Tour, which was a surprisingly short four stop tour. Why so short Warner Bros.? No news yet on where the Harry Potter tour is heading next, but keep checking harrypotterexhibition.com for more dates because I can’t emphasize enough just how cool this exhibition really is.