Harry Potter Casts Spell on Philly: New Exhibition Premieres at the Franklin Institute

Prepare to be spellbound…Harry Potter: The Exhibition is finally open at the Franklin Institute, and it’s every bit as magical as fans of the franchise would expect. A collection of immersive experiences capture the Wizarding World kids have come to love from the stories and blockbuster films. Original props and costumes are displayed alongside themed interactive installations, giving Potterheads a behind-the-scenes look at their favorite characters, scenes, and settings.

Team Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, and Ravenclaw can all personalize their journey at registration kiosks before entering the exhibit. From there, some 18,000 square feet of Potter-themed galleries wow guests, including simulated wand duels, potion mixing, and of course, a game of Quidditch. The exhibition hops a broomstick and flies out of town in September, and we recommend booking tickets immediately as weekends are selling out fast.

Read on for everything kids can see and do at Harry Potter: The Exhibition, including all the best highlights and can’t-miss attractions. For more stories like this sent straight to your inbox, sign up for newsletters.

Highlights from Harry Potter: The Exhibition 

King’s Cross Station

Begin the adventure by completing a Visitor Profile at King’s Cross Station, where you’ll select a Hogwarts house, wand, and Patronus. This data is saved to an RFID bracelet to be worn throughout the exhibit. Wherever you see a golden snitch, the bracelet can be scanned for interactive experiences, some of which tally points for your chosen house.

Hogwart's Houses Gallery

With a Sorting Hat as your guide, explore the four houses of Hogwart’s from one centralized hall, where newly designed crests are displayed on stained glass windows. Stepping through a doorway reveals authentic costumes, behind-the-scenes information, and set props unique to each house, like the sword of Gryffindor and the robes worn by the actors in the movies.

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Immerse yourself in the heart of Hogwart's at the Great Hall.

The Great Hall

Two long tables are set before guests as floating candles flicker overhead in an enchanting representation of one of Hogwart Castle’s most important rooms. A giant screen projects key scenes from noteworthy Great Hall moments, such as daily breakfast deliveries from the owl post and the Hallowe’en Feast.

Potions Classroom

Scan a textbook for clues, find the right ingredients, and mix up something magical in the potions classroom. The right mixture earns more points for your Hogwart’s house, the wrong one results in a disappointing explosion.

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Pot a screaming mandrake in the Herbology Greenhouse.

Herbology Greenhouse

This was my family’s personal favorite of all the galleries. The gorgeous botanical setting is filled with mandrakes—those pesky potted plants with healing properties and deadly cries. The greenhouse offers the opportunity to carefully repot the screaming mandrakes exactly as taught by Professor Pomona Sprout.

Patronus Charm

Say it from your chest—Expecto Patronum!!!—just leave the nosebleeds to the actors. This interactive experience in the Forbidden Forest lets young wizards trace a symbol and reveal the Patronus that they selected at King’s Cross Station.

Portkey Travel

Touch a leather boot and the room starts spinning, with a disorienting trip through the clouds before landing in a tranquil meadow scene and the site of the Quidditch World Cup. 

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Become a certified Quidditch champion.

Quidditch

Okay, so you can’t fly on a broomstick, the exhibit isn’t that interactive. But you can make like a chaser and launch a quaffle through a goal in an effort to score points for your team. Next to the game setup, this gallery also features replica broomsticks and Quidditch uniforms from the films.

Wand Duel

Grab hold of a wand and score a triumph for the forces of good over evil. The two go head to head in this recreation of a duel seen in the Harry Potter films.

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Peek inside the minds of Harry, Hermione, Rupert, and company in the Pensieve Theatre.

Pensieve Theatre

Relive the most memorable moments from the Harry Potter films in the Pensieve Theatre, which mimics the mind-tapping device that Headmaster Dumbledore kept tucked away in his office. There are ten years worth of reflections to be viewed here—expect to see flashes of Hermione’s affection for Harry, Rupert Grint’s recollections of Piccadilly Circus, and Harry’s pivotal trek through the Forbidden Forest.

Gift Shop

In true theme park fashion, the exhibit closes by directing visitors to a gift shop, and you’ll be hard-pressed to leave without some merch. Fans will find apparel, chocolate wands, jewelry, and writing sets among the keepsakes to mark their visit. If the combination of butterscotch and carbonation sounds appealing, grab a bottle of Butterbeer for an authentic wizarding beverage.

Tickets for Harry Potter: The Exhibition 

Tickets for timed admission are offered in daytime and evening blocks with varying prices by age. Daytime tickets cost $43 for adults 12-64, and $39 for kids 3-11, including regular admission to the rest of the museum. Evening admission strictly to the exhibit is offered at $30 for all guests Thursday through Sunday with entry times from 5pm-630pm. The exhibit closes at 8pm each night. For $59, VIP tickets grant superfans a special lanyard and discounted audio tour and photo op. Catch Harry Potter: The Exhibition before it apparates to the next city through September 18, 2022.

Photos by the author except where noted

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