A little over a month after the three-floor, 21,000 square foot Harry Potter New York opened its storefront in New York City’s Flatiron District, it’s giving Harry Potter and Wizarding World fans the chance to try two new magically immersive virtual reality experiences.
Created by WarnerMedia in a joint effort with leading VR-company Dreamscape Immersive, interactive software company Wevr, and U.K. studio Keylight and debuting today, “Chaos at Hogwarts” and “Wizards Take Flight” let fans explore the Wizarding World in two distinctive storylines that bring alive the popular book and film franchise in impressive new ways.
These newly launched 30-minute experiences are tucked into separate nooks of the store and encourage fans to step into a world of magic and interact with popular creatures, characters and locations from the Harry Potter series.
Customized entryways are flanked by costumed employees who lead you through your entire adventure. Before traveling into the Wizarding World, ticketholders are taken into a decorated holding room where attendees don their adjustable state-of-the-art VR gear while receiving instructions on how to navigate through your upcoming journey.
This is also where you learn how to cast spells and select your own avatar who will sport your chosen Hogwarts house robes. As you get ready, big Harry Potter fans should keep their eyes peeled for the various easter eggs hidden within these holding areas, where recreated props, posters, signage and more rest on shelves or in lockers, and along with the room and hallway walls.
While the headsets provide a 360-view of every scene you’re in (including everything beneath you), the immersive elements in “Wizards Take Flight” and “Chaos at Hogwarts” set this experience apart from other VR.
In “Wizards Take Flight,” you’re given a broom and a wand that will be vital in a high-flying battle against Death Eaters. Attendees are encouraged to shout their spells while flicking their wands as they balance on the broomstick, which they can shift up and down and side-to-side using their body weight.
Relying on headsets and hand trackers in addition to the wand, players are given a chance to zoom across Hogwarts grounds with a little assistance from Dobby before beginning a mission— led by Hagrid — across London’s skies, where you’ll encounter Voldemort’s ghastly following in their black hoods and recognizable masks. As your avatar whips through virtual fog and thunderstorms, prepare to have your own hyper-realistic physical experience.
Combined with the movement of the wand and broom — which will rumble when you hit or swipe building tops — “Wizards Take Flight” is arguably the closest thing you’ll feel to actually flying through clear and stormy skies on a magical broomstick.
“Chaos at Hogwarts” offers a different and arguably more involved immersive VR experience that also requires walking and some teamwork. Unlike the flying experience, guests are required to wear headsets, backpacks and foot trackers, in addition to the headsets, hand trackers and peripheral wands.
That’s because you’ll be traveling the halls of Hogwarts, interacting with a number of places, from house common rooms and moving staircases to dark, watery corridors and — at one point — a rather crowded Great Hall. You’ll also be casting several spells, so you might want to jog your memory before heading in if you don’t have them all memorized.
Once it begins and you have your ticket to Hogwarts, roam the school with help from the very real floor that rumbles, among other movements, beneath you. Essentially an exciting and action-packed walk-through of your first visit to the school, young wizards and witches will have to navigate the halls as Dobby leads you on a wild chase.
With your wand at the ready, anticipate seeing several famed and popular elements of the castle, beginning with an intensively realistic experience at Platform 9 3/4, and later a handful of magical creators alongside a few familiar ghosts and portraits.
For this standing-only experience, you’ll be enclosed within a series of railings and able to request assistance at any time from the surrounding staff.
For those looking to try both VR adventures, they each offer wheelchair accessibility. Younger and older attendees should also be ready for distinctively different action-driven stories that can feel more like 4D attractions than standard VR.
Tickets for “Chaos at Hogwarts” and “Wizards Take Flight” are currently on sale and can be purchased from the Harry Potter New York website for $34. Both adventures require timed reservations, which are available between July 15 to August 15, with advanced booking highly encouraged.
Guests that buy their VR experience tickets will not need to enter the Harry Potter New York virtual queue, which manages in-store capacity, and can proceed to the front of the line upon arrival 30 minutes prior to their scheduled time. Guests should also check the height and age requirements before ticket purchase.
Once you’re done with your VR adventures, you can also explore the store, which houses them. Located at 935 Broadway, Harry Potter New York features fifteen themed areas including wand and personalization shops, a Butterbeer Bar, a sweetshop themed after Honeydukes, and the first permanent House of MinaLima, where you can browse and purchase prints from the design studio behind the graphic props of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts.
There are also a number of interactive experiences, including a wheelchair accessible London telephone box for photo ops, themed selfie mirrors, a chance to “step” into Hagrid’s shoes, a rather large recreation of Nagini (who occasionally hisses in Parseltongue), as well as a store-wide scavenger hunt that features displayed props from the films.