Five things to expect from ‘Harry Potter: The Exhibition’ in downtown Atlanta

Harry Potter, a Millennial mainstay for nearly a quarter century with books and films, now has become an exhibition in a 31,000-square-foot space in downtown Atlanta at 200 Peachtree in part of what used to Macy’s.

Fans of the many movies can explore faithfully replicated spaces that allow them to pick a Hogwarts school, create potions and play quidditch. “Harry Potter: The Exhibition” opened last week to the public and will be around at least through the end of the year and likely through the winter. It’s open seven days a week and ticket prices for adults range from $29 on weekdays to $39 on weekends. There are also VIP packages and discounts for groups and kids.

Atlanta has become a hotbed for such experiences. This one follows experiences over the past 15 months focused on “Friends,” “Downton Abbey” and “Bridgerton” with a “Stranger Things” exhibition opening this week at Pullman Yards in the Kirkwood neighborhood.

The man behind the Harry Potter exhibition is Tom Zaller, president of Atlanta-based of Imagine Exhibitions, which was also responsible for last year’s “Downton Abbey” exhibition. His company has also hosted exhibits about “Jurassic World” and “The Hunger Games” in other cities worldwide.

The Potter exhibition had its initial run earlier this year at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, drawing more than 500,000 people over six months. He said it took 30 tractor-trailers to bring the exhibit down to Atlanta and a month to put it together here.

“This time we have our own space and we have more space,” Zaller said. “The story is so rich. The possibilities are endless.”

He encourages people to dress up as their favorite Potter characters and recommends they come on weekdays because the weekends tend to get much busier. The exhibition should take an hour to two hours to traverse depending on your dedication to reading all the placards. And most of the interactive elements are simple enough for younger children to enjoy.

Here are five key things to expect from the exhibition:

Credit: RODNEY HO

Credit: RODNEY HO

1. With a “golden snitch” wristband, you get to pick your Hogwarts school upfront based on your personality (Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw or Hufflepuff) and throughout the exhibit, various interactive games will be personalized to that particular school. There are rooms focused exclusively on each school including their crests on stained-glass windows.

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

2. The Hogwarts school portion includes a faithful rendition of the dining hall, a variety of iconic wands and classrooms to protect oneself from curses, brew potions and tonics and predict the future. The info provided in each room includes behind-the-scenes tidbits about the films themselves. For instance, Daniel Radcliffe had a tendency to break wands because he’d use them as drumsticks between takes.

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

3. There are plenty of actual props from the films including Hagrid’s umbrella, Quidditch brooms, the sword of Godric Gryffindor and outfits worn by all the major characters. Clips from the films are also used to show how particular props were used. The replica set pieces are impressively accurate, including Harry Potter’s tiny cupboard quarters under the stairs before he joins Hogwarts, Hagrid’s huge chair and the telephone booth in Whitehall that serves as the visitor’s entrance for the British Ministry of Magic Headquarters. There are also rooms dedicated to the “Fantastic Beasts” offshoot films.

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

Credit: HYOSUB SHIN / AJC

4. You can play a modest version of the fictional game Quidditch, enabling you to throw the leather Quaffles into respective hoops. (No need for broomsticks at least.) Otherwise, there are no amusement park-style rides. For those, you’d have to go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort.

5. There’s naturally a gift shop packed with Potter memorabilia galore including plushies, robes and scarves, some exclusive to the experience, and a café with a variety of food and drink options including Butterbeer and inventive signature mocktails and cocktails. The Devil’s Snare, for instance, features jalapeño agave nectar, lime and pineapple juice with edible smoke bubble (tequila or vodka optional.). There are even specialty chocolate truffles representing each House e.g. the Hufflepuff House features dark chocolate and “cauldron mousse cake.” Both the shop and café are open to the public without paying admission.


IF YOU GO

“Harry Potter: The Exhibition”

Reserved slots go from 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sundays to Thursdays (with the exhibition closing at 7:30 p.m.) and 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays (with the exhibition closing at 9:30 p.m.). General admission prices start at $29 for adults; parking is $16 across the entrance if purchased in advance. 200 Peachtree Building via 155 Carnegie Way, Atlanta. atlanta.harrypotterexhibition.com/