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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Review: Harry Potter In New York City

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Harry Potter: A History of Magic; as if you needed another reason to go to New York City. That should’ve been enough for me, after all. I’m a big Harry Potter nerd. But it wasn’t.

Thankfully my wife intervened.

Now, before I get too far along, don’t worry, I’m not going to give away any spoilers here. I don’t want to ruin it for anyone. Besides, as any Harry Potter fan knows, it’s all about keeping the secrets.

So. With that aside. As I was saying. My wife.

Sometime in November she asked about the idea of taking a trip together for Christmas instead of exchanging gifts. The only problem: she wouldn’t tell me where we were going.

Seeing as I hate surprises, I, of course, started brainstorming a whole slew of destinations.

First I thought Las Vegas, since I was talking about doing a trip there with her for her birthday.

Then I guessed Orlando to see the Harry Potter world there, since she’d mentioned she might have a work trip in Florida.

And then I guessed – well, honestly, I don’t recall what else I guessed. I was a bit flummoxed at this point. So I cornered her. She asked for a few minutes to get things together, then came back with a little envelope for me all wrapped up in a bow.

She’d said that this wasn’t all about me. It was something she wanted to see and do, too. But I was still stunned when I opened the card and she had our train info – as if we were going to Hogwarts! – tickets to see The Cursed Child, and more for a weekend away.

It couldn’t have been a better gift, honestly. And it wasn’t. The trip was amazing. I’m getting ahead of myself in saying that, though.

The show…

I’d read the book version of the play. That made me a bit skeptical. I didn’t much care for it. The story just felt flat. It’s been so long since I’ve read it (buying it the day it first came out) so I can’t recall all the specific reasons. All I can say is that it felt as though something was missing.

Still, I was excited to see the show.

As I said, Harry Potter nerd.

The Lyric Theatre is as on Broadway as you can get, all of a half block off Times Square, and it’s something you can’t miss with the giant and most impressively done marquee. And while it is quite amazing, the giant beacon of Harry Potter nerdom shining brightly for all to see, what’s inside is even better.

The whole place, from what I read, was completely gutted and redone for the performance. As a result, there was Harry Potter carpeting, Harry Potter wallpaper, phoenix sconces, and tons of patronuses (patroni?) painted on the walls. It just made my little nerd heart smile.

Then the performance happened. And I was in awe. Really and truly. I’m not some huge theatre aficionado. I’ve been to a dozen or so plays of one kind or another in my life. And I enjoyed them all. But this was something altogether different.

harry potter and the cursed child dog patronus

One of the many patronuses painted on the walls

It was like virtual reality. Or at least as close to it as you can get for a play. Maybe more along the lines of an IMAX showing. I don’t know. It’s difficult to explain without giving anything away, so I’ll just leave it with this…

If we can swing it financially, I’d make the trip to see it again. And again after that. It was that good. Really and truly. It deserves all the hype it’s received and more. And I say that from the place of a fan of the books and not of the movies – not that they were horrendous or anything, but there are just things missing. You’ve read them. You know.

So, I guess, think of this in reverse. Imagine that the book wasn’t all that good, when it comes to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, but the play was insanely, blow-your-mind amazing, which is what was intended when it was written.

harry potter and the cursed child stage

The Harry Potter and the Cursed Child stage in between acts

With that said, if you have the means, make it happen, whether it’s in New York City or in any of the other cities where it is traveling now or in the future. It’s worth it.

Harry Potter: A History of Magic at the New York History Museum, unfortunately, wrapped up just a couple of days ago. I’m a bit tardy in writing this. I apologize. And I apologize even further in saying that, yeah, you missed out. It was also amazing.

It’s not quite on par with, but close to Star Wars and the Power of Costume, which I wrote about for CBS Denver long ago in a city far, far away.

But it’s that way because it’s a great addendum to the performance. On it’s own, I really liked it. I thought that going through all of the rooms, seeing where J.K. Rowling got her influences, learning about the history of particular items, and seeing all of the collected memorabilia – like letters to and from the editor, sketches she made, and other such things – was fantastic. I would’ve loved it regardless, because, as I said, I’m a Harry Potter nut. As a result, as I tweeted, it really was one of the best museum exhibitions I’ve ever seen – and I’ve seen a lot – but the play really brought it further to life for me.

harry potter and the cursed child costume at new york history museum

Harry’s costume for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, on display at the New York History Museum

Just like during the performance, photos weren’t allowed within the special museum exhibition. A few things were outside of that, though, so I did snap a couple of extra pics, like Harry’s Cursed Child costume above. But my favorite is my wife and I on our broomsticks…

harry potter new york history museum jason and maria broomsticks

Fun at the New York History Museum’s Harry Potter special exhibition

P.S. You bet that’s me in my Ravenclaw shirt!

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