Is Harry Potter: The Exhibition Worth It? Here’s What You Need to Know

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Potions display at Harry Potter The Exhibition

I planned an epic New York City adventure for my great-nephew (16) who was visiting from his home in north Georgia. Included were stops at the Empire State Building, NY Public Library, Times Square and a ride past the Statue of Liberty on the Staten Island Ferry.

I also wanted to include a Harry Potter activity since he’s a fan of the books and movies. I discarded the notion of attending the 3 1/2-hour Harry Potter and the Cursed Child Broadway show because I didn’t want to be cooped up inside in June. And, sadly, the Harry Potter retail store has ended its two amazing virtual reality experiences and is transitioning those spaces into areas for more merch.

Luckily, Harry Potter: The Exhibition was in town, nearing the end of its NYC run before relocating to Boston. Curated by a division of Warner Bros. Entertainment, the exhibit features many costumes and props from the HP and Fantastic Beasts films and plenty of behind-the-scenes stories to amuse Potter fans of all ages. Here’s what to know before you go.

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Herbology display at Harry Potter The Exhibition.
My great-nephew contemplates re-potting a baby Mandrake. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

My daughter accompanied us to the NYC exhibit. She’s visited the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London and Universal’s Wizarding World. Although The Exhibition can’t compare to these awesome Harry Potter experiences, she found it entertaining enough to recommend to fans.

Visitors begin by creating their wizarding profile. You choose your Hogwarts house, wand and Patronus by tapping a wristband on a kiosk. Throughout the experience, you’ll tap on different activity consoles to collect points for your house by casting spells and concocting potions.

SheBuysTravel Tip: We had trouble getting our wristbands to connect. If you experience problems, remove the wristband and place it flat against the gold medallion readers. That worked better for us.

The Great Hall exhibit includes tables and candles suspended from the ceiling.
We enjoyed remembering our favorite scenes featuring The Great Hall. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Highlights

Since The Great Hall is the scene for so many memorable moments, I enjoyed stepping into a recreation of the Hogwarts dining room. Two tables were set for students beneath suspended ceiling candles while a background video showed seasonal representations of the banquet hall.

My daughter had a great time beating me and my great-nephew in Quidditch. No. You don’t ride on brooms, but you can hurl balls through goalposts. It’s harder than it looks. At least it was for me.

There are several opportunities to pose for photos. My great-nephew struck a Harry-esque pose on the under-the-stairs bed recreated from the Dursley’s home on Privet Drive.

Each of the exhibit spaces has fun facts about the costumes and props. For example, actor Daniel Radcliffe broke over 80 wands during film production by repeatedly drumming them. 

SheBuysTravel Tip: If your children are into the arts, they will be fascinated by the design process described in the placards and the ability to get right up close to see all of the details in the items. I left wishing I could go back in time and become a movie costume designer.

Teen preparing to throw a ball into a Quidditch goal post.
We didn’t capture a golden snitch, but enjoyed our epic Quidditch competition. Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

FAQs:

  • Is the exhibition suitable for children? The exhibit is directed to Harry Potter fans, ages 5 and up. If your child loves the books and movies, then this experience will be a hit. If they’re not, then they’ll be bored. The sweet spot, I think, is 12+.
  • How much are tickets and where can I buy them? Online tickets are available on the official website. They are offered at three price points: Timed Entry, Flex, and VIP. Timed entry tickets are tied to a specific date and 30-minute arrival window. Flex tickets permit entry during a period of dates for any time. VIP tickets offer the greatest entry flexibility and additional perks.
  • What are the exhibition hours and location? In NYC, Harry Potter The Exhibition is open 7 days a week. Hours vary. The official website is the best resource for operating times.
  • How long does the exhibition take to complete? The exhibit organizers suggest spending 60 to 90 minutes touring; however, you can spend as long as you like since this experience is self-guided.

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The Dursley staircase with teen posing in Harry Potter's under the stairs bedroom.
My great-nephew posing as Harry Potter in his “bedroom.” Photo credit: Cathy Bennett Kopf

Tips for Your Visit

  • If this is a must-see for you, purchase your tickets in advance. Although timed entry tickets for a set date are the least expensive option, consider flex tickets so you don’t have to worry about missing your entry slot.
  • The exhibition involves walking, so comfortable shoes are recommended for adults and children. Strollers are not permitted; however, accommodations are available for guests with limited mobility.
  • Although there is a retail space at The Exhibition, the large NYC Harry Potter shop has much more merch and a butterbeer bar. It’s about a 20-minute walk.

Things to Do Nearby

Harry Potter The Exhibition is located across the street from Macy’s flagship store in Herald Square. Operating in this spot since 1902, Macy’s has several on-site dining options, if you’re in the mood for a bite to eat. And take a ride up or down the historic wooden escalators.

You may not have the time to visit the roof of The Empire State Building, but definitely take a walk over to look up and see what was the tallest building in the world until 1971. Enter the lobby at 20 W. 34th Street to get the Art Deco feel of this landmark.

The Koreatown stop on the Red Loop of Big Bus Tours is located at 5th Ave. and 32nd Street. Riding the open-deck bus is a great way to see NYC from midtown to the Battery.

If Harry Potter is the theme for your NYC trip, add tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway and a stop at the Harry Potter retail store next to the Flatiron building at 935 Broadway.

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Conclusion

Harry Potter The Exhibition closes its NYC run on August 11, 2024. However, it will continue its US tour in Boston from September 13, 2024, through January 5, 2025. Booking tickets in advance is highly recommended.

Cathy Bennett Kopf serves as the Daily Editor of SheBuysTravel, reporting to Editor-in-Chief Cindy Richards. She began travel writing after serving as the unofficial (and unpaid) vacation coordinator for hundreds of family and friend trips. She launched her blog, The Open Suitcase, in 2012 and joined the SBT (formerly TravelingMom) team in 2016. A lifelong resident of New York, Cathy currently resides in the scenic Hudson River Valley. She’s a member of the Society of American Travel Writers, the International Travel Writers Alliance and TravMedia.
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