Harry Potter is a huge deal at our house, so when the invitation came to tonight's grand opening of Harry Potter: The Exhibition at the Pacific Science Center, you could hear the whooping clear into the Forbidden Forest. We're talking uber Potter geeks here, complete with striped scarves and inappropriate crushes on a certain Death Eater. And that's just the adults.
So with the breathless excitement usually reserved for pop-star sightings, we awaited our turn to take a spin through the exhibit of more than 200 authentic costumes, set pieces, artifacts and little gegaws from the now 7-part book and movie series. The verdict? "That was one of the highlights of my LIFE," enthused one 14-year-old girl. "That was....AWESOME!" gushed a 10-year-old boy. Yes, it certainly was.
From the Boggart wardrobe, to the Quiddich robes, to Slughorn's wand (distinctly sluggy, right down to the eye stalks), to Delores Umbridge's hideous kitten-plate collection, it's all here, in loving detail. "It's awesome to think that real movie stars really used these things," said one tween girl.
Several scene recreations held kids rapt, including Hagrid's Hut, the Gryffindor common room and the Great Hall. We loved seeing the "real," actual golden snitch and Harry's Nimbus 2000 (see PacSci's list of 20 must-see exhibit items here).
A word of warning to those who travel with kids of tender age or sensibility: If the movies scare you, the exhibit will scare you. After a brief introduction by an actor who calls on a few volunteers to be "sorted," your group will enter a room filed with video screens to watch a montage of images from the movies. Like the books, those images get progressively darker; Voldemort's reptilian face appears larger than life, as do Dementors and other scary creatures. And you will follow a winding path through the "Dark Forces" room, complete with skeletal thestrals and other creepy things - though parents can shepherd young ones quickly through this area.
There are a few interactive touches -- mandrake roots that squeal delightfully when pulled, a "Quidditch" game that will have you tossing quaffels -- but this exhibit is really about the magic and wonder of filmmaking; particularly the making of these movies that have meant so much to so very many kids. Well, that, and the gift shop, which is as well-stocked as any I've ever seen. We left with several t-shirts, a replica of Dumbledore's wand, and the fascinating "making of" book that three kids have been poring over for the past hour....while watching "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," natch.
The exhibit runs through Jan. 30; tickets are a staggering $30 for adults; $21 for kids 3-5; $28 for ages 6-15. Book your tickets and reserve your day and time window at pacsci.org.