If you felt a slight touch of magic in the air while strolling around the city this past weekend, you’re not imagining it.
‘Harry Potter: The Exhibition’ is finally open at the Franklin Institute, and doors opened for the world premiere officially on Feb. 18. The experience kicked off the day before for previews, and it all started with FI President and CEO Larry Dubinski declaring that “Philadelphia is open for business again.”
This particular exhibit, which follows the popular book and movie series, takes a peek at its history—which spans over two decades with 7 books, 8 movies and other feature-length and literary spinoffs. It’s so popular, the reach of the world of ‘Harry Potter‘ has even manifested a theme park, Broadway show and ever-growing fan base.
While in this exhibit, visitors will travel through 21 different sections that cover the iconic moments, characters, settings, and beasts as seen in the films and stories of ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Fantastic Beasts’ and the expanded Wizarding World, including ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.’
The exhibit itself was created and developed by Imagine Exhibitions in partnership with Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment, and EMC Presents. The exhibition is slated to tour globally and in addition to Philadelphia, the magical experience will land in Latin America, the Asia-Pacific Region (APAC), Europe, the Middle East, and Africa (EMEA).
Luckily, Philadelphians will be among some of the firsts to really immerse themselves.
When asked why Philadelphia is the perfect first stop for this brand new experience, Peter Von Roden, SVP of Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment and a born Philadelphian himself had the right idea: “This is the City of Brotherly Love,” he told Metro. “The core essence of the stories and that group is love and inclusivity. So what better place?”
Witches, wizards and everything magical in between will be able to select a house, a wand and a Patronus before their journey begins. Everyone who passes through will also receive a wristband bracelet to log their data and take pictures throughout the 20,000 square foot journey. And there are many moments to do just that and also win points for your house through potion-making, herbology, in the Forbidden Forest, and when you receive your wand to name a few.
The Hogwarts Houses gallery sets the foundation for the exhibition experience, allowing guests the opportunity to experience more personalized moments with the house they select during their preregistration, a release states. While guests may gravitate towards one house, this gallery allows visitors to experience all of the Hogwarts houses in a celebratory hall featuring an iconic Sorting Hat Photo. Guests will learn about the legendary houses and their distinctive characteristics and continue their own exhibition experience through personalized digital activation moments.
The next room, which acts as the bridge to the rest of the exhibition, is one where all of the nostalgia of the franchise—from the music to the atmosphere—truly comes alive. The Great Hall sets you off on your expedition feeling like a kid again (or, for kids, feeling immersed like never before.)
Visitors will then get to move through other classes sites such as Hagrid’s Hut, Umbridge’s Office, the Chamber of Secrets, the cupboard under the stairs and even a Quidditch Pitch, where you can throw a quaffle or two to get in on the action.
Notable costumes, items and even a first edition book of ‘The Sorcerer’s Stone’ is among just some of the items on display at ‘Harry Potter: The Exhibition.’ What you’ll also find while perusing the halls of Hogwarts, Hogsmeade and beyond is more behind-the-scenes information and a deeper sense of what each story in this universe represents.
Want to know what went into each costume? You can find out here. Want to try a spell out on your own? Give it a go. Need to feel that sense of nostalgic wonder during dark times? Check and check.
Opening weekend sold out, but there’s no need to summon any dark lords — there are still plenty of tickets to go around until mid-September. More information can be found on the Franklin Institute’s (222 N. 20th St.) website at fi.edu