I am finally getting to write about my trip to Chicago this past weekend. For months now, I have been so excited about going to see the Harry Potter exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, and the wait was totally worth it! My boyfriend Jeremy, his mom, and I arrived in Chicago late Friday night, after a gruelling day on the road. Uncannily, there were so many hold-ups and traffic jams that day, it took us much longer to get there than originally planned. Later Friday night, Jeremy's cousin, Susan joined us at the Holiday Inn (which is located in the upper floors directly above the Chicago Sun Times). Susan was thankfully familiar with the city having attended university in the city, so we gladly let her plan our route to the museum. Saturday morning, we woke up bright and early in order to see some of the city before heading to the museum for our 10:30 tour. In my dorky excitement for the Harry Potter filled day, I donned my new favorite HP shirt that says I'd Get Sleazy for Ron Weasley, while I let Jeremy borrow my other Ron shirt for the day. Susan led us at a brisk walk through some of the city as she showed us landmarks like the beautiful theater district, some of the Magnificent Mile, and we posed by the Picasso sculpture. I was particularly excited about seeing the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, which is the school I am hoping to attend for film school. After we passed SAIC, and the beautiful garden next to it, we came upon Buckingham Fountain where a group of kids and some adults were out in the sunshine practicing their Tai Chi and Karate. From there we picked up a cab to the Museum of Science and Industry where the Harry Potter exhibit was located. The museum was a lot bigger than I had originally imagined and I was afraid several times that we were not going to be able to navigate through it (especially when we were struggling to find our way out at the end of the day)! Regretfully cameras were not allowed inside the Harry Potter exhibit, so I will try to describe what I remember. The exhibit itself was absolutely amazing! I didn't think there would be as much to see as there was. Costumes, props, and visual aids were abundant and the atmosphere was infectous. The detail that went into the costumes and props from the actual films were incredible and it was so great to see the care and pride that was put into making even the most minute props top quality. Perhaps my favorite part of the exhibit was the Great Hall where the Yule Ball outfits were on display as well as some of the fancy desert props, and much much more. Some highlights of the exhibit were Mandrakes who when pulled up out of their pots, screamed, Delores Umbriges' hideously pink office, and the eerie effect of standing in front of Riddle's grave, where if you stand directly in front of the grave, you can hear Voldermort whispering dark things into your ear, almost as if he is breathing down your neck. There were props from all six movies included in the exhibit, and the museum did a great job of setting it up and making it a great environment for fans of all ages. The exhibit was put together with a lot of thought and pride and was a special, once in a lifetime experience for Harry Potter fans like myself. The gift shop at the end of the tour was a special, albeit crowded, experience in itself. Collector edition posters, film strips, and t-shirts galore. There was Harry Potter merchandise in every size and item imaginable. I managed to get through the shop without going entirely broke with some gifts for my sisters, and a gift of a beautiful plum sweater only available from the museum which was a generous gift from Jeremy's mom. Next up was screening of the Half Blood Prince in the Omnimax format, which was something I have never experienced before. I was excited to see that the dome like screen almost wrapped around the theater so that it was almost like we, the viewers were in the action taking place on screen. The first few minutes of the film had me a little motion sick with the swirling and diving action of the Death Eaters creating havoc, but the feeling stopped soon after that. Not only was the film truly amazing to see on an Omnimax screen, but Half Blood Prince became my new favorite film in the Harry Potter franchise. Not only did I feel that it was the most faithful to the book version in my opinion, but the look and feel of the movie was fresh and a much needed change from the last film, Order of the Phoenix, which was the most disappointing in the series to me. I am now eagerly preparing for the next film (arriving next year) by re-reading the series. Just seeing the exhibit and the film has inspired me to read the books for the second time.
After leaving the museum, we headed down to Navy Pier for dinner at the delicious Bubba Gump. While trying to obtain a table at the restaurant, two friendly Bubba Gump employees expressed their joy over my Sleazy for Ron Weasley shirt, as they shared a hug and their apreciation for my favorite HP character. After dinner, Susan led us to the Ghiradelli chocolate shop and then we were off to the John Hancock Observatory for a late night view of the city. I hated to leave my new favorite city on Sunday morning, but I decided that I would be back there someday soon for another visit and hopefully school as well. The Harry Potter exhibition and movie was incredible and it was an experience I will never forget! Below are some pictures that we took while there. Enjoy! And if you can get inspired, definately try and get to Chicago before the end of September to see the HP Exhibition!!!! You won't regret it!