The following is a first-hand account of a seventh-grade student who used to attend P.S. 81 Robert J. Christen in North Riverdale and now goes to a private school in New Rochelle. She recently spent a day at the new Harry Potter store in Manhattan.
Harry Potter is a well-known franchise developed by J.K. Rowling. Ever since the novels came out, fans everywhere had been demanding more content and merchandise from the series. Years passed, and the fans were starved of the story after it ended with the last novel, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows” — until the establishment of the Harry Potter store.
Only a year ago, this store opened its doors to the public — and I was lucky enough to visit it over the holidays. Prices were certainly questionable, but the creativity, experience, and overall visit to New York City justified the expense.
If a lively visit to one of the franchises’ greatest achievements during the vacation is what you are looking for, this experience is one you will not want to miss. Originally, I had planned to go with four of my friends, but unfortunately only one of them could make it. My brother and mother went with us to the store first thing in the morning.
From the outside, we could tell there was a reason the store was in development for so long. It stood on the end of the sidewalk, its two floors displaying themselves. The exterior design was enough to impress pedestrians. Black and polished, fake white owls and envelopes levitated above the building.
All of us looked around for a short time, but we knew why we had come. We dashed up the stairs, and found ourselves in the virtual reality room.
We were greeted by a staff member who gave us devices to put on our hands and goggles for my brother and I to put over our glasses, then we were led to the experience.
In the room, multiple broomsticks that could move from left to right surrounded a pillar. Virtual reality headsets hung above the brooms. We mounted the brooms and fit the headsets onto our eyes. As soon as the staff member turned on the experience, we found ourselves in the world of Harry Potter, on the Quidditch Stadium, on broomsticks, soaring into the air.
We flew our broomsticks into the night, and we discovered that the hand devices we received were makeshift wands for the experience. We were taught a curse to defend ourselves from the dementors as we flew over the clouds of London. The dementors hid in the clouds, so we had to keep a close eye on the skies and look over our shoulders, lest we plummet to the ground. The battle kept repeating itself until we made it to the end.
Once our eyes had accustomed to the light of this world, we decided to explore the store more. In one corner, we found a small interactive pool of wands which showed us the owner of each one. In another, we found a shop of Hogwarts TriWizard tournament jerseys. We decided to get two: one for me, one for my brother. Our surnames did not fit on the back of the jerseys, so my brother spelled his surname wrong on purpose, and I wrote my first name. It would be a while until the jerseys would finish, so we decided to further explore the store while waiting.
Finally, we were notified our jerseys were ready and we picked them up. However, we had one last area in the store to explore. One flight of stairs below, a cafe stood. It mostly sold Harry Potter-themed pastries, but it was mostly known for its butterbeer — a famous non-alcoholic drink in the magical world of Harry Potter.
This store was enough to show me how it feels to be in the dimension of the magical world of Harry Potter. The real magic, though, was how hardcore fans were willing to buy almost the entire store given the prices.