Harry Potter Exhibition Excitement

Wow, it’s been a while, and how amazing it has been!  Happy New Year!  I got home just last night, after a wonderful 2 and a half weeks in New South Wales.  Went trekking around in the car with my Mum, adding up the hours to my driver’s learner log book.  We had a really good time exploring Darling Harbour, going on bushwalks at Katoomba, and cave walks at the Jenolan Caves!  I was welcomed home with my Mugglenet parcel (a Dear Mr Potter book and Mugglenet tees) and two cats soaking up the cuddles.  Highlight of the holiday for me was (by far) the Harry Potter Exhibition.  It was AWESOME!  So here’s my review.  Prepare yourself.  It’ll be long.  And contain spoilers.

We arrived early, afraid of getting lost on our way to the Powerhouse Museum.  We’d booked for a 12:30 session on Tuesday, the 3rd of January.  We wandered around while we waited, looking at the other exhibits.  The Wiggles one was great for the kids, brought back memories!  But all the while I’m standing there, waiting in anticipation.  When you first walked into the museum there’s a big train on display, but it was no Hogwarts Express.  What you could see was the Ford Anglia, suspended above everyone’s heads.  It was about the only thing you could take a photo of, seeing as it wasn’t in the exhibit itself.  The time flew and soon we were lining up with our audio phone thingymajigs, listening to an introduction from David Heymen.  The audio tour was an extra $7.50 per person, and was great to listen to, although distracting at times to try and listen to with the amount of people hanging around.  The information was informative, particularly for the less-avid fans like my Mum, but over half of it was probably stuff I’d already heard in interviews or read elsewhere – particularly with the release of Film Wizardry and Page to Screen.

There were a handful of people dressed up in robes and tshirts and waving wands about.  All very exciting when you’re waiting in line.  I couldn’t help smiling listening to the kids in front of me discussing my Deathly Hallows necklace, and catching phrases like muggle and Quidditch.  Nothing like hearing that in every day conversation 😛 It wasn’t until just after 1:00 after we had our photo taken in front of the green screen that we were ushered inside the exhibit with the next group.  I didn’t mind the wait.  They only allow certain numbers of people in at a time (so they don’t get inundated!) but once in, you can spend as long as you like there.  So we walked past all 8 movie posters, and we were led into this room with about 8 portrait video screens that showed popular parts of the movies in an anticipating build up of excitement that ended with a (quite effective) Hogwarts Express flashing past all of the screens with the windows of the train finally slowing to a stop and the whistle blowing in your ear and the next room being opened up with a man in robes welcoming us to the Hogwarts Express.  This is perhaps the only part I would have liked to have spent more time in, examining the train in all of its grandness.  It was just the front of the steam engine and as we were still with our group we were hurried forward to the next room containing the Sorting Hat.

Our wizard-friend gave us the Hogwarts introduction, introducing us to the Sorting Hat and giving 3 lucky people the chance to be sorted.  Before placing the hat on their head they were asked which house they thought they belonged in, essentially meaning that everyone got their choice of house with the traditional Sorting Hat voice shouting it out to the group and making it official.  We were lucky with our group, the kids knew the books and we got a variety of houses come out of it – Ravenclaw, Gryffindor and Slytherin.  I know another group got stuck with people who hadn’t read the books and didn’t know which house qualities they held.  And so after that, the doors opened to the main room and we were allowed to take off on our own.  It was very busy particularly towards the front of the exhibit, I think because it’s just where everyone’s entering and getting caught up on details and so you were sort of lining up to view everything but once you made your way through the crowds thinned as people made their way through it at their own pace.

We were first greeted with portraits from the castle, a number of them moving, with the Fat Lady singing and taking up grand position.  This led into a display of a number of robes, including Ginny’s and Harry’s, and some of the more casual clothing worn by Hermione and Ron in OOTP.  In the backdrop they have the Gryffindor tapestries and they have the noticeboard and they have the noticeboard and the shoes they wore.  All around the place they have little glass cabinets for displaying things belonging to a certain character.  Ginny, Luna, Neville, Hermione.  It’s all there.  Their wands, time turners, Quibblers, books.  There’s signs everywhere saying no photography and do not touch.  All I wanted to do was take photos and touch!!  Was so hard to restrain yourself from not climbing over the barriers and touching those props for yourself that the actors used.

To the left were 2 beds from the Gryffindor boy’s dorm.  Harry and Ron.  Who else?  And they had their trunks there and their stuff inside the trunks.  You have Harry’s four poster bed neatly made to the left, and to the right you have Ron’s unmade one, with his Molly-knitted quilt lying on top and a poster of Chudley Cannons on the wall.  It was like stepping onto the set.  It showcased the Maurader’s Map and Lavender’s chocolate box, Harry’s wand and glasses and of course, the acceptance letter – which you see different versions of all the time – but this one didn’t look too authentic-y as it had Harry’s name in the green ink, and the rest was in typewritten black.  Ron’s case was a little more exciting, with Quidditch books and his original broken wand from the 2nd film, and a signed Chudley Cannons t-shirt which was really cool!  It also held Mrs Weasley’s howler, which according to my sister-in-law was damaged, although I didn’t notice this.

Moving on from the students, you get to a section dedicated to potions and you have Snape, Slughorn and Lockhart robes and books and gowns and wands and portraits and potion bottles including, of course, that little bottle of Felix.  Then there’s an Umbridge section, and Defence Against the Dark Arts with the giant jack-in-the-box, and the Boggart wardrobe!  The costumes are fascinating to look at, as well as all of the tiny props and just every little detail from the design on the curtains to the gold and silver foils on the books.  If you keep going, you’ll hit the Divination display with tea cups and crystal balls and one of the interactive moments of Herbology – pulling up your first mandrake.  So much fun, although they don’t give you the required ear muffs.  From here, you go into the next section of the exhibit.  The ever popular wizarding sport of Quidditch.  Quaffle-throwing is quite popular with the kids (and adults!  I scored 4 goals).  Some of the balls kept getting stuck at the top though, so a worker would have to climb up and slide them down.  The quaffles have been a little damaged from handling too, and contained no Hogwarts crest logo on them.  Following this is a display of Madam Hooch’s robes, and HBP seeker and keeper uniforms.  These are backed with Quidditch World Cup signage and House Cup trophies.  There are 3 sets of robes on your right – Harry, Cedric and Malfoy from 2nd and 3rd years.  And in a display case, is what is essential to Quidditch – the brooms.  Nimbus 2000 and 2001, with Quidditch World Cup props from Omnioculars to programme guides.  And the Quidditch trunk.  Can’t forget that.

And then, you enter Hagrid’s hut – if you look up before you enter, you’ll see a moving crow.  His clothes are on display to the right, towering above you and on the table is a wriggling dragon egg.  To your left is his chair, with a sign saying PLEASE SIT.  So of course, everyone is.  At first, it doesn’t look that big.  ‘Til you start seeing two people sitting comfortable beside each other, and you take a seat yourself and you realise just how far back the back of the seat really is.  Was pretty cool.  So you exit out the other side of Hagrid’s hut, and you start entering the Forbidden Forest, and the darker side to Harry Potter.  There are 2 centaurs on display and on the opposite side there is Buckbeak amongst the pumpkins and the crows, and the trio’s POA clothes.  There is a Hogwarts Scarecrow with a pumpkin head and Hogwarts crest on his tshirt, and the clothes the hippogriff slayer wore complete with his scythe.  And as you wander, you see a baby Thestral, and an Acromantula.  And the head of the Hungarian Horntail… detail is amazing.  And then it gets darker with the Angel of Death Statue that was used to restrain Harry in GOF, and Death Eater, Dementor (with billowing robes) and Azkaban costumes and wanted posters.  There is a petrified Colin Creevy, and a model of Kreacher and robes of Malfoys and wands of Bellatrix.  To the right, you have Harry’s PS costumes alongside Quirrel’s with his famous turban in front of an image of the Mirror of Erised, and a cabinet displaying all of the horcruxes.  And the exhibit goes on.You come to a hall with proclamation decrees hammered up nice and tall, and at the end there are 3 costumes from Bill and Fleur’s wedding – Hermione, Luna and Xenophilius.  Amazing.

Just when you think you’ve seen it all, it’s through the doors to the Great Hall.  And you don’t know where to look.  It has everything.  House banners on the wall, suspended candles in the air, Yule Ball costumes to the right, Fred and George to the left, food – chocolate bunny cakes and towering ice creams slap-bang in the middle.  At the end there are Sirius and Tonks robes from OOTP, Dumbledore and McGonagall robes, a beautiful model of Dobby that just makes you want to cry.  There are more wands, and Daily Prophet clippings, and Skiving Snackboxes, and the Triqizard Cup, and Weasley Wizard Wheezes mercandise, and Rita Skeeter quills and Durmstrang and Beaubaxton uniforms and the Goblet of Fire casings and the sword of Gryffindor and you know it’s got to come to an end soon.  Fawkes is there in a glass cabinet, looks truly magnificent and real, if you don’t look at his claws which have also been damaged – 1 or 2 toes missing on his left foot.  And then you walk through the next corridor and you know it’s almost over because you can see people handing back their audio thingymajigs at the end  and there are more moving portraits, this time applauding.  And if you look to you left – you almost miss it – there is the Bloody Baron’s costume.  Which I thought was a bit of an odd place to put it, seemed almost out of place.  Of all the ghosts, why not Nearly Headless Nick?  But it was welcomed all the same.  Time to run back through the exhibition and look at everything one more time.  It took us about 90 minutes to go through it once, and that was with me examining everything, reading every pointless sign and listening to everything on the audio tour whilst making our way through the crowds.  Another 30 minutes to run quickly through everything again.

The anticipation I had waited for the gift shop however, was short lived.  In my opinion, the gift shop itself was a big disappointment, perhaps because I’ve been drooling too much over the merchandise at the theme park.  Everything, whilst being overpriced (to be expected), was sort of… basic.  For the big fan, it was either stuff that you didn’t want, or stuff that you already had.  There just wasn’t the range of merchandise I was expecting and in the end, I only bought the Official Exhibition Guide book for $25 which has photos of everything in the exhibit that you weren’t allowed to take photos of.  Honestly, was the only thing I thought worth buying.  A quick run down for anyone who is interested… they had adult tees for $40, child tees for $30.  The had the 5 crest designs on either white shirts or house-coloured shirts.  They also had a black Hedwig shirt (the image of Hedwig that is printed on all the website publications) and a Quidditch League one.  They had black hoodies, with pockets at the front and a Hogwarts crest on top for a whopping $70.  House ties, beanies and scarves (without the logos) for I think $30 each.  They were selling the HP glasses and plastic light up wands that can be bought from Big W and Toy World for half the price, and a $30 fibro optic toy broom for the kiddies.  Page to Screen was selling for about $170.  There were dementor (Voldemort?) hands and Hedwig keyrings, $12 film cell bookmarks, house crest stickers, some plain mugs and large Sirius Black Wanted Posters for $15.  Chocolate Frogs with collectible card and tiny Bertie Botts Beans packets for $5 each.  Some owl plush toys, a Voldemort head bust and some more film cells which I’m sure would have been pricey.  I think that was about it.  You could also buy the green-screen photo print of yourself in front of the Great Hall, although these were also about $25 for the photo, $40 if you wanted it to come in a leather pocket.  For something like that, you could just Photoshop it yourself 😛 And the merchandise?  I could buy better stuff with that money (Noble Collection prop replicas anyone?) 😀

But I just had my eyes glued on everything, every tiny detail in every tiny cabinet.  It was amazing.  There are certainly things that you don’t notice in the movies.  Like Neville’s Herbology kit, and a fascinating little Quidditch board game, with miniature goal hoops and viewing stands.  I would totally recommend it if you haven’t yet been.  It is perfect for any fan.  It’s just incredible.  I hear if you go on a Friday, Saturday or Sunday, you can get the chance to see a Knight Bus and jump on board and travel around Sydney.  They are also doing some sleepovers at the museum which would be kinda cool for the kids.  But seriously, the exhibition?  Go.  It’s well worth it and the admission fee is reasonably priced even if the gift shop isn’t. 🙂

To finish up, you may recall me talking about an event called Supanova where I met Evanna Lynch in November.  It’s back again in April, and everybody’s favourite twins are going to be there – that’s right – James and Oliver Phelps 😀 So exciting!  That’s gonna be a must-go-to event.  Although, 2x actors = 2x the cost for photographs and autographs.  But they’re the Phelps twins!  Ahh! 😀 PHELPS!!!

Also, if anyone is finding broken links to the RPF Forum’s Harry Potter Paper Props thread, I’m aware of this.  Seems a few of the threads have gone missing after they switched hosts.  I’ll update you when I know more. 🙂 Happy wand-waving.

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~ by acciomagic on January 17, 2012.

One Response to “Harry Potter Exhibition Excitement”

  1. I went to the exhibition in November and thought the exact same thing about the gift shop – very disappointing!

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