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Behind the magic: The making of the Harry Potter exhibition in Macao

Discover a gateway to the Harry Potter universe at The Londoner Macao. From hands-on Hogwarts classes to mesmerising digital touches, here’s a sneak peek behind the scenes of this magical world.



Less than 1 minute Minutes



Less than 1 minute Minutes

As you enter The Londoner Macao’s new Harry Potter: The Exhibition, it feels like you’ve been whisked away by a portkey into the heart of JK Rowling’s beloved Wizarding World. From choosing your favourite Hogwarts House and wand to wandering through the classrooms and gazing in awe at floating candles in the illustrious Great Hall, the immersive experience will enchant even the most dedicated Potterhead. 

It’s no mere muggles’ magic. The travelling exhibition, which has attracted over 1.7 million visitors worldwide since its launch just over a year ago, marries the enduring lore of Harry Potter with cutting-edge entertainment technology. 

Currently showing in New York and Barcelona, Harry Potter: The Exhibition has arrived in Asia Pacific for the first time at The Londoner Macao – a fitting home for a paragon of British literature. 

“I’ve always said that when it came to Asia, there was no question that we had to launch the show at The Londoner Macao,” says Tom Zaller, president and CEO of Imagine Exhibitions, the company that created and produced the experience.

Zaller and his team are behind some of the world’s most renowned travelling exhibitions and attractions. The company’s portfolio includes creations inspired by blockbuster films like Titanic, Jurassic World and The Hunger Games, as well as acclaimed TV series such as Downton Abbey

Beyond the entertainment world, Zaller has also designed and launched permanent educational displays in leading museums and science centres, and he was also the founding director of the ArtScience Museum at Marina Bay Sands in Singapore. Zaller’s 25 years of experience have earned him a reputation for crafting compelling and story-driven exhibitions that make a lasting impression on audiences. 

To learn more about what it took to bring this spellbinding exhibition to Macao, Zaller shares some behind-the-scenes details, offering a sneak peek into what makes the show a must-visit for any Harry Potter fan – and why it’s likely to draw them back time and again.

A portal to a magical realm

Harry Potter: The Exhibition’ at The Londoner Macao
Candles float overhead in the hallowed Great Hall, where Hogwarts students ate pumpkin pasties, cauldron cakes and chocolate frogs

Spanning roughly 2,800 square metres, Harry Potter: The Exhibition is comprehensive, to say the least. Across the vast space, there are more than 20 galleries, each celebrating the intricate details of the Harry Potter books and films, as well as spin-offs and prequels like the Fantastic Beasts films and the Broadway production Harry Potter and The Cursed Child

“It’s massive – we’ve built a small city here,” emphasises Zaller, adding that the exhibition requires over 70 equipment containers. “From the design to the writing, translation, graphics, setting up, even the media and marketing, there are so many details, and it takes a huge team of dedicated people who love doing this.”

When guests arrive, they’re equipped with RFID wristbands, enabling them to customise their journey. For starters, fans can select a Hogwarts House and earn points for their house by completing challenges throughout the exhibition.

“The Harry Potter books, and the world created on the screen are so rich. If we can make people feel like they’re inside that for even just a moment, that’s what I wanted to do,” adds Zaller. 

RFID wristbands are just one of the many cutting-edge technological touches Zaller and his team have employed to bring the Potterverse to life. As visitors move through the exhibition, they’re treated to interactive experiences and multimedia displays that pay tribute to the most memorable moments and locations. 

A first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone is kept under strict watch in a Gringotts-inspired vault, while the Whomping Willow, Marauder’s Map, and blood-chilling Dementors spring to life in the Hogwarts Castle Gallery, which uses projection mapping technology. 

“Technologies like RFID and projection mapping have changed the game and allowed me to do things that I probably couldn’t afford to before,” says Zaller, who is careful to point out that technological elements should serve to enhance, not overshadow, an exhibition’s experience.

“These innovations will become easier and more affordable for exhibitions to use – but at the end of the day, it’s all about the story,” he continues. “It’s about connecting you as a guest with something.”

For ‘swimmers and divers’ alike

Original costumes worn in Harry Potter films
Among the many rare props and details on display, discover an array of original costumes worn in Harry Potter films

For Zaller, the technological flourishes may be impressive, but he’s mindful not to rely on them. The exhibition, he says, must stay true to the Harry Potter legacy and impress even the most diehard enthusiasts.

“We have to remember the swimmers and the divers,” he says. “You have the people who are your casual fans, and then you have the people who know everything about Harry Potter – and they’re the hardest to please!”

To impress the superfans, Zaller and his team have added layers of details to surprise and delight. For example, they can expand on Sirius Black’s family tree, check out authentic movie props, learn secrets from the costume designer’s department and discover original costumes worn by Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe), Hermione Granger (Emma Watson) and Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint) in the films.  

“When we put Harry Potter on display, you have to do it at a certain level,” acknowledges Zaller, who was granted a licence from Warner Bros. to create the exhibition under the condition that he work closely with the studio to guarantee authenticity. 

“It’s good for us because it keeps us true to the Harry Potter brand, and we are ultimately a steward of that when we bring this exhibition to Macao,” says Zaller. “We’re also so lucky to work with Sands China, which has done an amazing job creating these branded worlds and has a great team doing events. We are all working together to elevate this to the highest level.” 

Wands at the ready

Take a peek inside the ‘cupboard under the stairs’ where Harry slept before his wizarding days
Take a peek inside the ‘cupboard under the stairs’ where Harry slept before his wizarding days

Setting the bar high, Zaller and his team have focused on creating detail-rich physical environments with rare props and hands-on activities.

Among the popular experiences, visitors gravitate toward Hogwarts classes where they can brew elixir in the Potions lab, pot a Mandrake in the Herbology greenhouse, or whip out a wand to defeat a Boggart in Defence Against the Dark Arts. 

Next, they can tour Hagrid’s Hut, where a crackling fire fills the air with an inviting woody aroma. Outside lies the Forbidden Forest, where fans can uncover creatures such as Centaurs and Acromantula hidden in the foliage.

Those looking for a magical memento can snap away at the exhibition’s many photo opportunities, from Harry’s pre-Hogwarts home, the cupboard under the stairs, to a freewheeling ride on a Nimbus 2000 against a Quidditch field backdrop. 

“The books and the movies are full of that zest for life and an emotion,” says Zaller. “Even though it’s fiction, it’s still a human story. That’s why people connect to it so well. You see yourselves in these characters.”

Zaller’s ultimate goal with the exhibition is to contribute to its enduring legacy, hoping to impart a similar sense of joy that so many fans felt the first time they discovered Harry Potter. 

“We’re not changing the story; we’re retelling it. We’re putting you in the environment to remind you of how great the story is,” he shares. “A line at the front of the exhibition and smiles out the back – that’s what I like to see.” 

Join the magic at The Londoner Macao this winter and snap up tickets to Harry Potter: The Exhibition. Don’t miss this interactive magical journey with tickets starting from 218 patacas for adults and 168 patacas for children.

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