Experience the Chaos at Hogwarts in New York City

If you’re something of a Wizarding World tourist, like us, you’re probably always on the lookout for magical events, conferences, filming locations, trivia, and more. There’s so much to see, like Harry Potter theme parks, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, museum exhibitions, and LeakyCon events – and that’s just scratching the surface. But the virtual reality experiences at the store Harry Potter New York easily claims a top spot on the list. If setting foot in Hogwarts is one of your life goals, here are five tips for you when checking out this attraction.

 

1. Make a reservation with friends.

Shopping at Harry Potter New York is practically entertainment enough, with two elaborate floors filled with dazzling Harry Potter apparel, jewelry, home decor, edibles, artwork, and more.

 

Stacks of books make a magical archway to walk through in the Harry Potter Store in New York City

The bottom floor of Harry Potter New York features an archway of magical books.

 

You could easily overlook that there are two behind-the-scenes virtual reality experiences to explore. Trust us – you’ll want to surrender your $37 and claim a reservation for “Chaos at Hogwarts.” (You can also book “Wizards Take Flight,” but we didn’t try that one.)

Most importantly, don’t make a solo reservation. These experiences are designed for groups! Bring friends along and share this experience, if possible.

 

2. Don’t worry about motion sickness.

Okay, we know what you’re thinking: You attempted The Forbidden Journey ride at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in LA or Orlando, and you will never trust VR again (they should just call it The Forbidden Barf).

I was so concerned with motion sickness that I visited Harry Potter New York on three occasions before I finally braved the VR. So from a queasy person who can’t manage in the back seat of a car, give New York’s VR a try.

Unlike VR roller coasters, you can just take off the headset and quit if you want. But that’s improbable – because dissimilar to a VR ride, the New York VR experience immerses you more gently and realistically. Your body isn’t strapped into a flying chair or a conveyer belt while your eyes try to process a poorly timed visual. Instead, you’re walking wherever you please at your own pace. To steady yourself, you can even reach out and hold on to a railing during the experience.

 

3. Wear comfy shoes and bring a mask.

Once you have a reservation, wear comfy walking shoes, bring a mask, and arrive 15 minutes early. The staff will check you in and show you a hidden stairwell.

As you ascend, you’ll be surprised to find a hidden entry to a sizable King’s Cross station. You wait there while the friendly staff prepares the next room.

 

A hidden Kings Cross Station lies upstairs at Harry Potter New York

A waiting room fashioned like King’s Cross station lies upstairs at Harry Potter New York.

 

Eventually, a Hogwarts Express conductor brings you into a small gear room, where they help you into your Hogwarts uniform… so to speak.

 

Seats with VR gear line the wall of the Harry Potter New York Store

Each guest takes a seat to listen, as the VR hosts explain how to put on VR sensors.

 

Since this was a VR experience, we were asked to choose an avatar at this stage (an animated Hogwarts character to inhabit).

After that, a staff person showed us how to strap some lightweight sensors onto our hands and shoes. To finish the outfit, we put on backpacks and headgear and followed the crew into another darkly lit room.

 

Visitors are asked to strap sensors to their hands and shoes at the Harry Potter New York Store

Visitors are asked to strap sensors to their hands and shoes at Harry Potter New York.

 

 

4. Step into your fantasy – literally.

Upon entering the darker, larger room, the staff invited guests into a central area with padded floors, surrounded by protective, padded guardrails. The environment was reassuring, and the staff’s friendly approach made everyone feel comfortable and excited.

With headpieces fully in place, guests could see the silhouettes of their fellow Hogwarts students to either side. Ahead, a Hogwarts trolley was poised and waiting. The staff encouraged us to take the handles and push ahead.

This is when you have to wonder: How is this going to work? But if you set all your questions aside and just reach out, you can physically grab onto the handles of this trolley. The surprised attendees all pushed forward with force. And as a brick wall came closer and closer, we moved right through the wall and onto the platform, just like Harry.

 

5. Don’t rush.

Once onto the platform, the one and only Dobby was there, inviting us to join him. The endearing house elf guided us straight into Hogwarts – where we could crane our necks looking up, down, and all around – taking in the vast details of the castle we all know and love. Take some advice and don’t rush. This VR experience varies in duration, roughly from 15 to 25 minutes, so move slowly and take your time enjoying every moment!

It would spoil too many surprises to tell you about every twist and turn. But it’s enough to say that if you’d like to ride the castle’s moving staircases, sneak into a House common room, chase a Niffler, or cast spells in the Great Hall, then don’t miss this experience at Harry Potter New York.

 

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Virginia Barry

At 25, I realized that all those times I snuck a fantasy book along with me as a kid—reading through countless math classes, family meals, sermons, and sporting events—weren't without reason. And so it was, that with just four jobs and the Harry Potter books to keep me warm at night, I earned my degree in Literature and Journalism in Boston, graduated with honors, and became a professional writer. These days, I'm a balanced, childless adult, building towards my reasonable aspiration of becoming a witch.