Mickey: The True Original Exhibition

I had the pleasure of attending the press preview of the Mickey: The True Original Exhibition in the city, located right next to the location of this summer’s Pint Shop, at 60 10th Avenue, New York, NY 10014. The cost of admission is $38 and it’s running from now until February 10, 2019. Like most pop-ups, the Mickey exhibit is available by time slot so you have to purchase your tickets in advance online and enter according to the time you selected. You do not have to purchase a ticket to access the retail store inside though if you just want to view and buy the merchandise.

I learned of this exhibit over the summer, when the walls were already heavily decorated outside, and Disney had started advertising heavily for Mickey’s birthday in advance through special Oreos, Goldfish and other food merchandise and such you can buy at your local supermarket. The Highline ended up being an area this summer that I would visit multiple times since this block is so popular for quick temporary pop-ups. I was even here a few weeks prior for the Brandless pop-up.

Upon checking in, you are given a limited edition set of Mickey ears and pin to commemorate the exhibit and Mickey’s birthday. The waiting area before you’re officially introduced into the exhibit has a map of all the rooms you can walk through, as well as a few quick backdrops for cute selfies. There’s also a list of all the artists who contributed to the exhibit. From there, you walk into a huge room where they play a quick video about Mickey and his contribution to the world over the years and his evolution. Videos and photos are highly encouraged throughout the entire exhibit so don’t worry about overdoing it. The next room showcased Walt’s Oscar from his work with Mickey and the Steamboat Willie film. You can watch two different versions of the film too in a dark room, the original and a modern day interpretation. There’s even a lifesize steamboat for you to walk on to and take photos. My gripe with this room and a few other rooms in the exhibit though, is the lighting isn’t that great. It was hard to take photos in some areas due to this. For pop-ups, this is a big faux pas. Lighting is key for grammable photos. One of my favorite rooms was the Ink and Paint room but it was hard to capture nice photos here because it was so dark and the light changed too quickly between patterns. Same thing with the Sorcerer’s Apprentice room. There was so much potential but dampered by low lighting.

As we walked through the exhibit, we saw many different variations of Mickey, seen through the eyes of all the artists that contributed to it, as well as original artwork and pieces. The staff is very friendly and knowledgeable, as well as helpful if you need a hand with taking photos. I found some rooms were very monochromatic and some rooms were splashes of color. Of course, I enjoyed the splashes of color more. Towards the end of the exhibit, you’re given a sample of Ample Hills Creamery ice cream, with flavors designed specifically for the exhibit.

Towards the end, there’s a room where you can play Mickey trivia with other guests on the Google home Mickey, and then view a collection of old Mickey Mouse memorabilia and merchandise throughout the years. The exhibit finishes into the retail store, which hides the neon room, the psychedelic room of hidden Mickeys. The lighting in this room also makes it hard to capture photos nicely.

So what is my review of the exhibit? Honestly, compared to other pop-ups I’ve attended, I think the $38 price tag is a bit steep for the content. I appreciate all the art and displays you can view, but it’s lacking the interactive, fun aspect of pop-ups like The Color Factory and Rose Mansion. There wasn’t a lot of different, hands-on, fun things you could really do other than take photos, but even the photos felt a little flat. I felt there were a lot of missed opportunities. There was so much potential but this pop-up didn’t take full advantage of it. The only food sampling is the ice cream and we were given a very modest portion of it as you can see our cups weren’t even filled. They could’ve given away a lot of other Mickey shaped treats and food like the Oreos and Goldfish. Or even have the famous Mickey bar available, even if for purchase. I didn’t feel it had the magic of Disney in it or the fun factor. It’s more for the art and museum goers. It’s very “museum-like” than it is a pop-up, but with not enough content really to make the entrance price worth it, in my opinion. You are given ample time to walk through and view everything at your leisure, however. And I did feel that every one was very friendly. I never felt rushed. I went on press day so it wasn’t crazy crowded but I did read a few other reviews on Google stating that they’re very good at only allowing a limited amount of people in at a time so you never feel crowded or have the problem of other people in your photos or feel rushed to take your photos because someone’s waiting behind you.

So ultimately do I think this pop-up is worth a visit? Yes if you’re an art lover and museum goer and don’t mind paying a steeper price for pop-ups. But no, if you’re looking for something more interactive with that wow-factor. I’m more on the interactive, fun, wow-factor spectrum for pop-ups, so I wasn’t really impressed to be honest, nor in love with the palette of colors used in this exhibit. It felt like a lot of red, white and black, instead of the pop of color world that I prefer for Mickey. And for the price, I think we could’ve received a few more freebies and cute Mickey treats, like the Sugarfina candy. I’ve also read that Mickey sometimes makes appearances for photos, but that’s not always guaranteed so I do feel that should be more consistent in the pricing as well.

Regardless, I did enjoy attending the preview day and being able to experience it to find out what the exhibit was all about. And again, Happy Birthday to a true icon that I grew up with, Mickey Mouse. Without him, the Disney World of imagination would not have been possible. It all started with a mouse to launch one man’s amazing dream that he wanted to share with the world.

NYHS's Harry Potter: A History of Magic

My best friend is a huge (understatement of the year) Harry Potter fan.

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I didn’t really get into it until just a few years ago. I ignored it in high school when my brother got into it because I was too busy being a stupid girl with emotions and teenage angst and going gaga over boys at the time. I watched the first movie a LOOOOONG time ago but I wasn’t really that into it. I fell asleep during all 3 of the LOTR movies as well. I don’t know why, I just wasn’t into those fantasy movies. But I think it’s because I’m more interested in stories with a female protagonist and pretty girls. I mean, I like dragons and castles and magical worlds, but I wasn’t in love with this vision of it. I’m superficial but there wasn’t enough “pretty” going on to draw me into these worlds.

In 2015, I went to Universal with my best friend on a spontaneous vacation and was introduced to Harry Potter World in the parks. I hadn’t been since I was about 15 or so, so it’s been quite a while and clearly a lot had changed. There was no Wizarding World part of the park back in 2003. It was a new experience for me and I found it pretty cool. I appreciated what they had built and that there was a train connected between the two parks, further immersing you into this world they brought to life. I rode the rides, visited the shops and explored the alleyways and corners. But I didn’t really understand it.

Over the next few years, I started traveling more with my friends and visits to the Orlando and Hollywood parks spiraled out of control. I started watching the movies, and then slowly got through the books. It took me a while because adulting and all other things I have going on in my daily life, but I finally finished the books this past summer. Better late than never, right?

Now all the rides and details of the park world makes sense to me when I revisit. And funny thing, I’ve visited three different Harry Potter Worlds now. I’ve been to the Universal in Orlando, Hollywood and the one in Osaka, Japan. They’re all similar but have their differences.

And this fall, my best friend wanted to visit the new Harry Potter exhibit at the New York Historical Society Museum that just opened up. We went on opening day, a Friday evening since all weekend tickets for October was sold out for the month. Actually almost all the weekends are sold out til late November! I didn’t think it would be this popular before it even opened but I’m not that well informed regarding the HP world and all its popularity.

If you’re a big Harry Potter nerd, I would definitely recommend you stop by this exhibit if you’re in the New York area. Buy your tickets in advance and if you still have your school ID like I do, cop that discount! It’s decently priced for what it is and will definitely fascinate your inner Potter nerd.

Unfortunately for this exhibit though, there is no photography allowed once you past through the exhibit walls. There’s artwork you can freely take photos of before you enter, and the gift shop itself is something to marvel at, but the actual walk-through is for your eyes only. I snuck two photos in so you can see what it looks like somewhat but I wasn’t able to get any good close up details of what the exhibit entailed. Although, photos can’t truly describe it. You need to see it for yourself to appreciate the work that went into the exhibit, as well as the work and research that JK Rowling put into creating this world and translating it into a literary dream.

There are letters, photos, drawings, storyboards, and other various pieces of history that they have displayed regarding how the books came to fruition. For example, you’ll see how JK Rowling envisioned Harry to look in her own caricature of him, versus other illustrators visions. There are letters of how the title came to be and why there are different versions for America and the UK. There are different halls, each devoted to the subjects that the students took in the book like herbology, divination, the Dark Arts, magical creatures, and potions. In each of those rooms, they had ancient books of magic, witchcraft and fantasy that had been the research and inspiration for JK Rowling. You can tell she poured a lot of work into this, meticulously planning every detail out, down to the character’s names, the spell names, and the details of how each creature was to appear.

One interesting thing I noted at the exhibit was that even for a Friday evening, it was quite busy and crowded so I wasn’t able to look at everything, but that the particular crowd there that night was not the demographic I had anticipated. I thought the attendees would be in my age group or younger but there were actually a lot of older people there too. It’s particularly extraordinary to see the many different faces, age groups, and styles of people drawn into Rowling’s wondrous fantasy. Originally supposed to be a children’s book, she probably never envisioned that this would spiral into such an obsession for such a wide audience of people, and spark into movies, theme parks, countless amounts of merchandise and more. It’s crazy because you’ll never known what will catch on and what doesn’t make the cutting room floor when it comes to fandoms.

In my honest opinion though, I do appreciate the world of Harry Potter but I didn’t catch onto it and dive in as heavily as some of my friends have. Maybe if the story had been about Hermione or another girl, I would’ve loved it more. I do find myself enjoying Harry Potter World more than the rest of the theme park when visiting Universal. One of my favorite places to eat is actually The Three Broomsticks. I love walking through the castle and the bank. There’s so much detail to look at while walking through the line that you never really mind the long wait since the buildings are a piece of work in itself to view.

Oh and if you’re wondering, hahaha. I was sorted into Slytherin by the hat in the WB Studio Tour in Hollywood. BUT, I had also been sorted by a friend many years ago before I read the books, as Fleur Delacour. I didn’t understand it at the time but once I finished the books, I found the comparison oddly fitting. I’ll take it since I never really gravitated towards any one of the original 4 houses. And Beauxbaton being a French foreign school is more fitting for my nature. I would wear their uniform over the Hogwarts one. It’s more my style.

The exhibit is also notably right next to the Museum of Natural History, one of my favorite museums in the city, if you’re looking for other things to do. (And if you’re not a New Yorker or maybe you are but just don’t know, this museum is a pay as you wish museum so you can get in and view most of the exhibits for as little as $1! It’s all suggested donation based unless you wish to view the planetarium shows and other special exhibits.)