Earlier this year, my almost-teen son and I took a short weekend trip to New York City. It involved the usual – sightseeing, eating great food, exploring Times Square, and the most important reason – Harry Potter! I have been a fan of the Wizarding World since the first book was released, and I couldn’t wait until my son was old enough to enjoy the stories as well. Now, having read the book series over 20 times, seen all of the movies, and visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ at Universal Orlando Resort® more times than I can count, it was time to kick it up a notch. So we boarded a plane and set off for the city that never sleeps to see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child on Broadway!
We flew from Orlando to New York after school on Friday, which didn’t leave us any time to anything that night. But it happened to be a long weekend, which meant we had two full days in the City before we had to fly back home again on Monday. And we did our best to take advantage of all of the time we had!
For the convenience factor, we stayed at a hotel right by Times Square. We got up bright and early on Saturday morning, grabbed breakfast at a great local diner, and then jumped on the subway to visit the American Museum of Natural History. One of the great things about New York City is that no matter where you look, there is always something interesting to see. The subway stop we needed was under construction so we had to take a detour and walk about 6 blocks to get to the museum. We got to walk past some amazing brownstones, which sparked a great conversation with my son about a few that were for sale, and how much we thought that they would be, and what it would be like to live in the city. Too often there are distractions like TV, video games, homework, and events that get in the way of just talking. Traveling to new locations, seeing new things, and having new experiences together are a great way to spark conversation and build connections. Whether this is your child, spouse, or a new friend, it is one of my favorite things about getting out and seeing the world.
The American Museum of Natural History is a huge 3-story building with displays and artifacts from all over this world, and beyond. There are fossils dating back millions of years, permanent displays of reptiles, birds, mammals, and sea creatures, as well as ones that depict the evolution of human history. If outer space is more your kind of science, they have meteorites, minerals, and rare gems, that offer clues about the origins of our solar system and the changes our planet has gone through as well as an amazing planetarium. Some of our favorites were the Unseen Oceans exhibit and Dark Universe at the Hayden Planetarium.
We left the museum by late that afternoon to head downtown to the One World Observatory since no visit to New York is complete without a bird’s eye view. And although my son is still a little young to visit The National September 11 Museum, I did want to show him the Memorial, which is located right alongside One World.
We had pre-purchased our Skip the Line ticket ahead of time, so after spending a few minutes at the Memorial, we headed into the skyscraper to travel 102 floors in 47 seconds! And what a ride that was. You can feel the movement as the screens in the elevator showed a time-lapse video of New York City being developed. The SkyPod elevator appears to emerge from bedrock in the year 1500, showing the island as it existed before people had arrived, and then quickly moves forward in time to show the Manhattan we know today. As the time-lapse enters the 1900s, visitors will also be able to see the original Twin Towers for about four seconds before they disappear, and the view is eventually replaced with the construction of One World Trade Center. The building is completed and you exit the elevator into the Observatory.
Once you are in the Observatory, there is so much to see and do. The See Forever Theatre allows you to surround yourself with the rhythms of the city. The Sky Portal is a 14-foot wide circular glass disc that uses high definition footage of the streets 100 floors below. Tour Ambassadors do interactive presentations that connect you with famous landmarks and bring you deeper into the city’s neighborhoods, history, and culture. And finally, they have an interactive, virtual reality guide to the city. With 360-degree views, One World is definitely something worth visiting.
When it is time to head back downstairs, the SkyPod elevators put on a whole different show. Kind of like a Wonkavator, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, the elevator seems to float out over the city, taking you to all of the spots you just observed. Pretty cool.
Sunday was play day! Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is actually a two-part play Part One is 2 hours and 40 minutes (incl. 20 min. intermission) and Part Two, 2 hours and 35 minutes (incl. 20 min. intermission). You can either see both parts on one day (as we did) on Wednesday, Saturday or Sunday, or you can see the plays on consecutive Thursday and Friday evenings. For the consecutive shows there is a break in between where you have time to explore Times Square and visit Schmackary’s for a delicious cookie, or even grab a quick meal. But be advised that you will need to arrive at least one hour before the start time, as latecomers will not be admitted until intermission.
Without going into too much detail, because we need to #KeepTheSecrets, it is 19 years after the last movie. Harry is a dad, and his best friends Ron and Hermione are with him for a thrilling new adventure. From the minute you enter the theatre, you’ll be immersed in their magical world. The story, acting, scenery, and magical elements are like nothing you have seen before. And even if you have read the script book, you are still in for a magical world of surprises. Go see this play!
No trip to New York City is complete without a good meal or two. We were lucky enough to have several. On Saturday night we went to Junior’s Cheesecake. Since the 1950s, Junior’s has been famous for great food, great fun, great service, and, of course, the best cheesecake. They started in Brooklyn, and now have additional locations, including two in Times Square. Definitely come hungry, because their milkshakes are huge, and oh so delicious! On Sunday night, we went to John’s of Times Square – an amazing pizza restaurant that is housed in the old Gospel Tabernacle Church. From the street, you wouldn’t even think anything was there, but head inside for a beautiful surprise….and some great food.
A weekend is never enough time to spend in New York City, but between the history, food, and an amazing show we definitely made the most of our time, as well as a lot of great memories. Want to have an adventure of your own? All Key to the World Travel® advisors are experts and offer the highest level of exemplary customer service. Contact your travel advisor to book your vacation, or click here to request a quote today!
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