Visiting Harry Potter New York
On June 3rd, 2021, something magical happened in the Flatiron District. Harry Potter New York — the first-ever Harry Potter flagship superstore — opened to the masses! We weren’t in the area for opening day, but we visited in July and had a fantastic time exploring the store.
How to visit Harry Potter New York
The first thing you should know about Harry Potter New York is that you can’t just show up and shop — at least not yet. Because of its popularity, they are currently handling shoppers with a virtual queue system. In the morning, they set up a sign outside the store with a QR code. Those who want to shop must scan the code and enter a virtual queue. If you do this, you’ll receive a text message later in the day when it’s your turn to return and enter the store.
This likely means you’ll have to make two separate trips to the store, once to scan the code and once to enter, or otherwise plan to spend a lot of time in the area while you wait (possibly hours) for your turn to enter. There is one way to get around this awkward requirement, though. Harry Potter New York just opened two VR experiences in mid-July, and if you have a ticket for one of those, you can enter the store ahead of your reservation, or stay in the store afterward to do your shopping.
We tried out the Harry Potter VR experience — read about that here!
However you get in, the Harry Potter New York experience is a must for any fan of the Wizarding World! Lots of unique merchandise to browse, great photo ops, actual props from the films, and delicious treats, including New York’s first Butterbeer Bar!
Harry Potter New York – Main Level
Upon entering, you’ll be greeted by a huge flying statue of Fawkes the Phoenix and cool Harry Potter New York-branded merchandise. I was tempted by the sweatshirts, but I already had my eyes on a Slytherin shirt I saw in a window display.
In the center of the store is the Atrium, which houses a large griffin statue (like the one that guards Dumbledore’s office in the movies) which rotates every so often and tops a spiral staircase leading to the lower level. Look closely at the staircase and balcony railings — the pillars are wands!
From the Atrium, you can access several different rooms. One of these is full of house merchandise, so you can proudly wear your colors and represent. They have really cute gift trunks full of house goodies — a perfect gift for your Potterhead friends.
Or check out the wand room, full of character wands, house mascot wands, and specialty wands, like the Golden Snitch wand, which is only available at Harry Potter New York. Another room offers stuffed animals of various creatures, along with puzzles and games.
Harry Potter New York Butterbeer Bar
And of course there is the Butterbeer Bar where New Yorkers and visitors to the city can now enjoy that elusive, butterscotch-shortbread drink!
We’ve had our fair share of Butterbeer at Universal Studios, and we think both versions taste great! In New York, the serving was noticeably smaller, but I loved the souvenir cup, which justified the higher price tag ($10 for a Butterbeer at Harry Potter New York, $7.99 in Universal Studios for a Butterbeer in a disposable cup). We also got a Hedwig cupcake which, though pricey for its size at $9, was quite delicious!
Next to the Butterbeer Bar, you’ll find a selection of sweets, including bottled Butterbeer. We grabbed a 4-pack of these to bring to my sister — since they don’t include the frothy topping, they are vegan. She’s a big Harry Potter fan and excited to get her first taste of Butterbeer!
Harry Potter New York – Lower Level
And there’s even more to be found on the lower level. Even if you have no problem with stairs, we recommend taking a ride on the elevator at least one way. It’s set up to look like a fireplace connected to the Floo Network!
Downstairs, you’ll find some of the “darker” merchandise, along with books, jewelry, robes, cosmetics, art prints, and a variety of items you can personalize, in the “Things That Must Be Named” section.
Also downstairs is the gathering area for Wizards Take Flight, one of the two VR experiences. The entrance to Chaos at Hogwarts is on the main level — that experience actually takes place on the store’s third floor.
Harry Potter New York Photo Ops
There are several places to take some unique photos at Harry Potter New York, so have your camera at the ready! You can pose inside a London telephone booth (perhaps on your way to the Ministry), see how you measure up to the half-giant Hagrid, take a peek at some Bowtruckles, and snap shots of several famous props!
When you’ve taken all your pics, chosen all your treasures, and are ready to checkout, you can do that on the main level. They have several designs of reuseable bags for purchase, or you can get a free paper bag to take home your items.
We had so much fun exploring Harry Potter New York and can’t wait to return soon for another visit and another Butterbeer!