Exploring Panem at The Hunger Games Exhibition in NYC
I wasn’t an “original” Hunger Games fan. Like most books-turned-into-movies I first fell in love with the movie and then turned to the pages of the book to find out more. The first time I watched The Hunger Games it had already been on DVD for a few months. The movie confused me and I was left with many unanswered questions. How did Gale’s name get in the reaping ball 42 times? Why did Haymitch send gifts to Katniss in the Games but none to Peeta? WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?!
That’s when I turned to the book and was instantly hooked. I read the entire trilogy in a matter of days and counted down until the next movie was released in theatres. When Discovery Times Square announced they would be opening The Hunger Games: The Exhibition this July I knew it would make for a perfect excuse to visit New York City.
We spent this past weekend in NYC for my birthday, using two free nights from my Citi Hilton Reserve credit card to stay at the New York Hilton Midtown. I journeyed to the Hunger Games Exhibition alone, leaving Brandon and Stink at the hotel so I could spend as much time at the exhibit as I wanted. I was there for over 2 hours there and loved every minute of it.
Discovery Times Square has two ticket options for The Hunger Games exhibition, the cheaper tickets for $29.50 and the more expensive V.I.P. tickets for $49.50. The cheaper tickets require you to reserve a specific day and time slot. I chose to purchase the V.I.P. ticket which allowed me to enter the exhibit at any time and also provided me with a neat mobile audio guide. The audio guide is also available with the cheaper tickets for free when you pay with an American Express card or $7 if you use a different form of payment.
Upon entering Discovery Times Square you’re ushered into a line for the exhibition where your photo is taken in front a green screen. The poses they have you do are interesting but skip the black capes they offer, it looks a little ridiculous in the final photos. Furthermore, the “bow and arrow” pose doesn’t actually show a bow and arrow in the final photo and that too looks ridiculous. If they can add a Hunger Games background then surely they can add a simple bow and arrow, right?
The introduction of the exhibition is a unique video clip with Effie Trinket in front of the Justice Building. Then your group is transferred into the exhibit where you’re free to wander at your leisure. Take your time, though, once you leave you cannot re-enter!
The exhibition is divided into many themed areas and the journey naturally starts in District 12, moving to the Tribute Train and then on to the Capitol and other areas. Each area is well-planned with interactive displays to explore and costumes and props to marvel at.
The mobile audio guide has some really neat features but the audio clips aren’t very useful to die-hard Hunger Games fans. Most of them just explain what happens in the book as you move from themed area to themed area. For example, in District 12 the audio guide introduces the listener to the concept of tesserae, something that any Hunger Games reader would already know about. I feel that if the audio guide had discussed little-known facts about the book, author or film then it would have been more appealing to me.
The other features of the mobile audio guide are more interactive. Select an “ally” such as Cinna or Effie at the beginning of the exhibition and you’ll unlock additional audio clips of information as you move through the exhibit. Moving between the themed areas unlocks passport stamps as well. Take some photos, add borders and save them to your passport. At the end of the exhibition you can email your passport to yourself or anyone you like. Mine took over 24 hours to arrive, though, so be patient.
If you didn’t purchase the V.I.P. ticket or mobile audio guide, no worries! There are plenty of interactive features within the exhibition itself. My favorite was “A Vision of America” which shows a map of all the districts of Panem and where they’re located geographically within the US. The interactive screen allows you to explore each district, learning what they harvest and who their tributes are.
As you move between themed areas you’ll find multiple hands-on displays, videos and costumes from the movies. The “Making the Games” room is especially interesting with a circular interactive display that looks exactly like the Gamemakers table from the movies. In this room you can also learn how to tie knots or fight just like they teach the tributes in the Training Center.
I spent a lot of time in the Capitol room where I couldn’t stop staring at the black and red feather dress that Jennifer Lawrence wore in Catching Fire. This was also the room with displays about Caesar Flickerman who’s played by Stanley Tucci. I LOVE Stanley Tucci! You can even have a seat in a round white chair across from Caesar, as if you were on stage with him.
The grand finale of the exhibition is a large room with 4 of the most famous costumes that Jennifer Lawrence wore in the Hunger Games movies: her hunting outfit from District 12, her wedding dress, the Mockingjay dress with wings and her rebel uniform. And of course securely displayed behind glass is the famous Mockingjay pin.
At the end of the exhibition you have the option of getting more pictures (and video) in front of a green screen, and then you have the privilege of waiting in an incredibly slow line to see said pictures and video…or you can just head straight into the gift shop. There are plenty of unique souvenirs in the gift shop, unlike any I’ve seen for The Hunger Games. Still, I stuck with my usual postcard souvenirs and walked out without spending too much money.
The Verdict: I really enjoyed The Hunger Games: The Exhibition but I honestly expected just a bit more information about the films. Some of the displays explained the idea behind the story (did you know it was heavily influenced by the story of Spartacus?) but much of it was information that you could get just by reading the books. I didn’t want to just marvel at the costumes, I wanted to learn more about this story that I love so much. Unfortunately I left feeling a little disappointed in that area. Still, I wasn’t SO disappointed that I wouldn’t go back again and would recommend this exhibit for any Hunger Games fan.
Tips and Tricks: Bags aren’t allowed in the exhibit so you’ll have to check your belongings at the bag check area but bring along a credit card for the gift shop and a camera. Just be sure to turn the flash off, they are very strict about that rule! If you’re traveling by yourself feel free to ask one of the employees to take a photo for you. The seats in the Tribute Train are a great spot!
Good to Know: If you’re visiting The Hunger Games: The Exhibition in search of sneak peeks for the upcoming Mockingjay- Part 2 movie then you’ll be sorely disappointed. Aside from the one photo below there’s no mention of the upcoming movie nor are there any spoilers for those who haven’t read the books.
Child Friendly? I was a little nervous to bring Stink because I know The Hunger Games movies aren’t kid-friendly so I assumed the exhibition would be the same. There’s no scary parts of the exhibit at all so it would be okay to bring along young children. Still, I’m glad I left Stink at the hotel with Brandon so I could take my time and really enjoy myself. This would be a perfect place to take older children, though Discovery Times Square also has an Avengers exhibit which is much more kid-friendly.
Pet Friendly? No.