Calling all muggles, witches, and wizards! On June 3rd, the world’s largest Harry Potter store (21,000 square feet!) officially opens its magical doors—right near the Flatiron building on Broadway (22nd St between Fifth Ave and Broadway). I was lucky enough to explore these hallowed walls with my partner, Allison; to say that we were both blown away by the spectacle and charm is an understatement.
For a quick history lesson: I have been obsessed with all things Harry Potter since my fourth-grade teacher read Chamber of Secrets to us in class back in 2000. The love only grew exponentially once my mom bought me the first book for Christmas that same year, and the rest is history. From day-one book release parties, to being featured in the newspaper with a quote about my love for the film during the Goblet of Fire release, to midnight show movies, the NYC premiere of Half-Blood Prince and everything in between, Harry Potter became a huge staple of my life.
Being the queer outsider in high school, I clung to the stories so much that I lugged around a different HP book on the regular. It became a family event, with each Harry Potter movie bringing us all together. I will never forget the first time I stepped foot on Diagon Alley in Universal Studios Florida or when I took my first sip of Butterbeer. In one of her final years with us, my mom painted me a gorgeous canvas evoking old-school Harry Potter artwork. On the back, she wrote, “Thank you Harry for all the loving memories with my son.”
Walking into the entryway of the new Harry Potter New York store, those familiar feelings came flooding back like a warm, comforting blanket. With immaculate detail in nearly every possible nook and cranny, they have accomplished the impossible. A 200-pound Fawkes the Phoenix hangs over the front entrance in all his impressive glory. Nibbler from the Fantastic Beasts films is up to his usual hijinks in adorable setups around this first room, which contains items exclusive to New York. It is a bold, beautiful and tone-setting entrance that displays how much love was poured into this building from top to bottom.
A second room containing Hogwarts-house related merchandise was the first place we spotted an exciting development: actual movie props encased in glass, in the style of the rose from Beauty and the Beast. Every selected display, from Ravenclaw’s crown to the Golden Snitch to The Elder Wand, lets one get up close and personal and is beautifully lit. It exhibits which film it appeared in, as well! The centerpiece of this room is a ceiling that displays gorgeous artwork of an exciting Quidditch game set in the skies of Central Park, atop the skyscrapers of New York City.
From here, we took advantage of several adorable photo opportunities. Stepping into Hagrid’s literal shoes just outside a stylish setup of The Forbidden Forest and a London phone booth (Ministry of Magic, here we come!) were my personal favorites. It is when one steps into the circular centerpiece of the store that the sheer magnitude really takes your breath away. In addition to the forest, one can hop onto the Floo-Powder themed elevator down to the bottom floor, check out the delicious Honeydukes section (complete with a Giant Chocolate Frog!), gaze in awe at a majestic Griffin akin to the entrance to Dumbledore’s office that fully rotates every 15 minutes, traverse a spiral staircase with wand railings and choose from dozens of wands for purchase (including ones exclusive to the NYC location). A quaint offshoot section with streetwear our associate described as “Hogwarts via 2021” and another with a massive checkout area make this floor intimidating, to put it mildly. There is also the Butterbeer Bar, but we will come back to that later…
Next, we took the elevator down. Almost as soon as we got off, another oversized replica, this one of Nagini the Snake, complete with extended tongue, greeted us. There is plenty to take in down here: a giant time-turner that lords over a huge area for ultimate customization on items like robes and journals; the House of MinaLima which features graphic art, prints, and more all hand-designed; and an intricate book archway that leads you to the promised land of J.K. Rowling texts and flying books. The setup of the VR area is an alluring spectacle, though it was not up and running just yet (a friendly associate informed us it is anticipated around July). The two multiplayer VR experiences, “Chaos at Hogwarts” and “Wizards Take Flight,” invite you into Hogwarts castle and to fly on your brooms to battle horrifying Death Eaters, respectively. I know I will be counting down the days to when I can make a return visit to check out this promising experience.
As far as pricing goes, I didn’t notice anything that seemed crazy outrageous. I walked away with several souvenirs, including a cute Dobby shirt, a Head Boy pin, and bottled Butterbeer. We undoubtedly saved the best for last: The Butterbeer Bar. Serving Butterbeer ice cream, Butterbeer on tap, various cookies and sweets, this was my favorite area of the entire store. Allison and I both received complimentary tankards of Butterbeer (priced at a very moderate $10), and I nabbed a Sorting Hat dark chocolate sugar cookie while Allison chose a chocolate wand. The delicious, foamy beverage fresh from the tap was the most magical part of the day and sealed the deal that this place is going to do big business. Although they don’t offer hot or frozen Butterbeer (the frozen is my favorite, which is absolutely splendid), the yummy simple mainstay of butterscotch meets cream soda must be drunk to be believed.
Interactive backgrounds, intriguing prop and item layout, and the promise of future additions means one could notice something new every single time you go. I could have spent hours in here just soaking it all in and returning to that very first nostalgic visit I ever took into the magical world of Harry Potter. Check out some more photos below!
Whether you’re looking for a gift, or you just want to feel those familiar fanboy (or fangirl) happy-vibes, the Harry Potter Store New York has something for any voracious lover of the Wizarding World. Thanks for the memories, Harry. Here’s to years more!