Harry Potter New York is the first flagship Harry Potter store to open in the United States. Located in the heart of New York City, this store is a Harry Potter fan’s dream. According to the official website, it actually houses the largest number of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts merchandise in the world! With the addition of a Butterbeer bar, this is the perfect stop to enjoy all the Wizarding World has to offer.
In addition to the wonderful variety of collectibles, merchandise, treats, and photo ops, Harry Potter New York has just introduced two new virtual reality experiences inside their store. We had the amazing opportunity to be one of the first to experience these new adventures!
Keep reading for our review of our time visiting Harry Potter New York and all the tips and info you need to know before making the trip!
“Chaos at Hogwarts” and “Wizards Take Flight” are the two new virtual reality experiences offered at Harry Potter New York. The two experiences use a combination of VR headsets, backpacks, and hand-and-foot trackers to give the wearers a totally immersive experience. Each attraction group can take up to 6 guests and costs $34 USD each.
Wizards Take Flight:
After we were escorted into the store, we were taken to a separate roped off area to begin our adventure. First up was “Wizards Take Flight.” I had never done any kind of virtual reality experience before so I truly did not know what to expect. The closest I’ve ever gotten is a ride like Forbidden Journey at Universal Studios or Soarin’ at Walt Disney World.
We were then taken inside our waiting room. Decorated to look like a Quidditch locker room, this area featured different props from our favorite wizarding sport. Here you will find cubbies to place your belongings before you head inside. You are fitted for this attraction with hand sensors that are placed on your wrists.
Once you get inside, you get to sit on an actual broomstick! I was not expecting this and being able to lean forward and grab onto the handle like I was flying and actually get to steer was my favorite part. This was like a 4D attraction with water misting and fun sights and sounds all around you as you soar around Hogwarts.
‘Wizards Take Flight’ Tips:
I thought a long time about whether or not I should wear my glasses for this experience. The headsets will accommodate most glasses if you do choose to wear them but they may assist you if your frames are larger. This wouldn’t usually be a problem but thanks to Covid-19, we are also wearing masks and this is where one of my only issues came into play.
We all know the struggle of our glasses fogging up from our masks. Add in a virtual reality headset being strapped to your head and it can feel quite claustrophobic. I was worried my glasses fogging up would make me miss something once the experience began. My glasses did end up fogging a bit during both experiences so you may want to keep that in mind. You don’t want to miss a thing!
No spoilers here but in addition to your brooms, every wizard needs a wand. They were a bit glitchy for our first run so hopefully as guinea pigs, we were able to help them fix that before opening day.
Look up! Look all around! There’s so much to see in every direction!
Don’t worry about looking silly. I let this hinder me from really getting into casting spells because I was worried I would look goofy to whoever else was in the room.
Chaos at Hogwarts
“Chaos at Hogwarts” was definitely my favorite all around. We were taken to the next room which was decorated to look like King’s Cross Station! After snapping a ton of pictures, we headed into our next waiting area. This is where you will again be fitted for your hand sensors.
This time, you will also be slipping sensors onto your shoes and a backpack onto your back.
Here is where my biggest tip comes in.
I had the hardest time getting this backpack on! One arm was just fine, but then I started doing that thing when the straps are too short and your arms are twisted like a pretzel and you can’t get it on. I assumed these backpacks must be meant for children and didn’t say anything once I realized how tight the strap was and how it was digging into my arm.
I’m a plus sized girl and I think people like me may understand being shy or embarrassed to ask for help. I’m sensitive about my arms. However, I decided to speak up under the guise of asking for more technical information, and asked if the straps were adjustable.
They informed me that yes, they were, and immediately descended upon me to relieve me of any bruises that were already forming on my Weasley skin and quickly adjusted them. A relieved sound along the lines of a relaxed dragon immediately came out of my mouth and we were good to go.
This experience for me was the more immersive one and worthy of its price tag. It felt longer and as though we were actually walking through Hogwarts! Imagine if you could have explored Universal’s Forbidden Journey or Gringott’s rides as they play out!
‘Chaos at Hogwarts’ Tips:
Keep watching the ticket board! You might see a familiar shiny-loving creature stealing your coins. Also, look closely at the letters. Some letters change into symbols like the Deathly Hallows.
Don’t be afraid to speak up and be comfortable! The team members are SO nice and helpful. There’s nothing to be shy about. They want you to have the best time possible.
This attraction can have multiple endings, so make sure you muster up all your magical energy when you get to the end.
I really don’t have any negative things to say in this review. Yes, there were parts that were glitchy, but there always are when it comes to attraction previews and that’s why they have them so they can perfect everything that needs to be perfected.
If I had to, I guess I would say the price. At $34 USD each, doing both virtual reality experiences can add up quickly, especially with multiple people. If pushed, I would hope maybe down the line they do a discounted or bundled option for people who choose to purchase both attractions.
However, purchasing a ticket to one of these experiences guarantees you entrance into the store WITHOUT WAITING IN LINE for a virtual queue number. For those who don’t know, right now guests wait in line outside, check in, and are given a return time for later to enter the store and shop. This can mean that it’s probably best to have other things to do so you aren’t waiting around Madison Square Park for hours until you can get in. Thankfully, it’s New York City, so there’s always lots to do.
This, to me, is worth the price.
Finally getting to explore the store was a dream come true. I spent a lot of money in a short amount of time and it was worth every penny. Yes, the store was crowded and made me wish for the days of social distancing. I wasn’t able to truly explore the wand section or the MinaLima room because it was just too crowded.
We want to thank Warner Media, Harry Potter New York, and The New York Edition Hotel for taking care of us and working so hard to create this magical day for us! I felt like Kevin McCalister visiting Hogwarts for the first time.
- Tickets may be purchased online at www.harrypotterstore.com/
tickets. Pre-booking online is highly recommended to secure a ticket for your preferred time slot, and to ensure that you and your group can all experience Harry Potter VR together.
- Age & Height – All guests must be at least 48 inches tall and 10+ years old. Guests under age 13 must be accompanied by an adult with a paid ticket.
- Accessibility – Wheelchair options are available upon request
- Duration – Your full journey should take approximately 30 minutes from beginning to end including check-in, gear-up and gear-down.
- What to wear – Dress for adventure. Long skirts and flared pants may interfere with the sensors or get tangled. Wear comfortable shoes. High heels and flip flops are discouraged.
- Photography – Photos and videos are not allowed inside the experience, but we encourage you to snap all the content you want at Harry Potter New York, in the VR waiting areas and gear-up/gear-down rooms. Remember to share on social with #harrypottervr, #harrypotterny and tag @harrypotterny