By: Spencer Bollettieri, freelance writer for Theme Park Magazine
Countless people seek enchantment and excitement in the Wizarding World every day, but those with their eyes set on an adventure can experience its wonders on a visit to Manhattan’s Harry Potter store: Harry Potter New York.
Harry Potter New York – More Than a “Store”
While the Harry Potter store may only seem like a slice of Diagon Alley brought to the Big Apple, inside is an opportunity for guests to star in their own Harry Potter adventures through high-tech wizardry, imagination, and storytelling.
Entertaining over a million visitors within its first year, Harry Potter New York materialized near Manhattan’s famous Flatiron Building. Promising exclusive merchandise and a spellbinding ambiance, the specialty shop stands out among NYC’s many buildings as Harry Potter’s home away from Hogwarts.
“Harry Potter New York is more than a store; with VR experiences, one-of-a-kind personalization, and a Butterbeer Bar, it’s a magical day out,” Karl Durrant, Vice President and General Manager for Warner Bros. Retails Destinations, tells Theme Park Magazine.
And looking at its whimsical window displays, looming dragon clocks, and the countless curiosity-seekers surrounding it, it’s evident that there’s something incredible in store for those looking to explore the Wizarding World.
Designed with Personality
No matter where curious visitors wander, every inch of Harry Potter New York has personality. Whether it’s pixies causing havoc among the bookshelves, or the Acromantula looming in the Forbidden Forest, the Harry Potter store goes out of its way to immerse visitors with iconic props, characters, and moments from the series that embrace the quirky charm of its source material.
“The building we found in the Flatiron District had so much character and felt like it could be part of the Wizarding World,” Durrant says. He states it took over a year to craft merchandise and props by hand, making the shop look and feel authentic.
“From the moment they enter the store, you’re surrounded by props from the Wizarding World, including some real props from the movies. There are so many hidden details and Easter eggs for superfans to spot. You’ll see something new each time you come.”
Harry Potter Virtual Reality Adventures
The Harry Potter-themed store’s star attractions are two interactive virtual reality adventures.
The first is “Wizards Take Flight,” in which guests join Hagrid in a high-flying battle against Death Eaters.
The second is “Chaos at Hogwarts,” a fun adventure in which players sneak around Hogwarts on a mission to help Dobby the house elf. In particular, “Chaos at Hogwarts” feels like a Harry Potter story that the players are in the center of; while also invoking the same quality and immersion as Universal’s The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. However, unlike the theme parks, it’s a more personalized experience that allows guests to choose their own Hogwarts avatar and use wands to capture magical creatures run amok.
Memorable locations in “Chaos at Hogwarts” include the Gryffindor Common Room, the shifting staircases, and the Chamber of Secrets, all ending in a final confrontation with a dragon loose in the Great Hall.
Utilizing 3-D graphics, 4-D effects, and sensors, every part of “Chaos at Hogwarts” and “Wizards Take Flight” are designed to feel real. Taking the best aspects of Universal’s Harry Potter attractions, both are digital story-driven journeys filled with humor, action, and the magic people love from the series.
“We really wanted to bring a one-of-a-kind experience to New York, and the VR experiences do just that,” Durrant said.
Guests suit up in state-of-the-art wearable VR technology, including headsets, backpacks, hand and foot trackers, and peripheral wands that allow interaction with the virtual experiences. Sensory effects, like wind blowing on you, add to the immersive realism.
Butterbeer, Wands, and Merchandise
As far as shopping goes, the building attempts to condense Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade into a two-story shopping attraction. Featuring interactive displays, exclusive merchandise, and themed areas, the wizarding store goes above and beyond to distinguish itself.
Guests can indulge their sweet tooths by browsing the shelves of Honeyduke’s candy shop or ordering from the Butterbeer Bar, which in addition to a souvenir cup, also offers various confectionaries such as Butterbeer ice cream and miniature Harry Potter birthday cakes. Or, after learning about different wands and their owners via an interactive display, guests can choose their own modeled after their favorite characters. Also, in addition to wares such as toys, home comforts, books, and clothing, shoppers can purchase personalized items via Things That Must Be Named.
“I think the best part about Harry Potter New York is that there’s something for everyone, whether you’re a superfan or not,” Durrant stated.
Regardless, most can expect to come home with something from the Harry Potter shop, whether it’s an indulged palate, something from the shelves, or memories shared when exploring the store’s displays and attractions. Similar to the city surrounding it, Harry Potter New York offers a unique charm that needs to be experienced in person to understand what makes it so magical.
Harry Potter Store Details
- Name: Harry Potter New York
- Space: 21,000 sq. ft.
- Floors: 3
- Virtual Reality Experiences: 2 (Chaos at Hogwarts and Wizards Take Flight)
- Opening Date: June 3, 2021
- Location: 935 Broadway in the Flatiron District
- Hours: Monday through Saturday 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. and Sunday 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
- Uniqueness: Extensive collection of props from the Harry Potter movies, interactive elements, photo ops (like trying on Hagrid’s boots), a Butterbeer Bar, Wand Store, and VR experiences.
- On busy days you will be required to scan a QR code outside the store to join a virtual queue to enter the store.
- There are many products you can buy at Harry Potter New York which can be personalized.
- There is a shipping service to have the merchandise you buy shipped to your home if desired.
- At the Butterbeer Bar, you can purchase Butterbeer to take home!
- For the virtual reality experiences, you can purchase your tickets online or with the assistance of a virtual reality staff member on the third floor.
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Explore More: Resources
Feature image courtesy of Warner Bros.
About Spencer Bollettieri: As a biologist, journalist, and writer, Spencer Bollettieri has written for sites such as Screen Rant. Although mostly based out of New York, he’s traveled the world in pursuit of new stories.