Fans of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter will be excited to visit the newly opened Harry Potter New York flagship store starting on July 15, 2021 for two amazing virtual reality (VR) experiences. Exclusive to the New York location (not even duplicated at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida), the adventures were created by WarnerMedia in partnership with the creative teams at Wevr and Keylight and VR industry leaders Dreamscape Immersive, the two adventures feature totally new and unique experiences. Both put fans into an immersive world filled with landmarks from the series and featuring treasured characters.
I was invited for an early visit to the store to experience both the experiences for myself – and, while I will absolutely not spoil even the smallest part of the storyline, I can share a few tidbits with you.
Both experiences start with selecting an avatar wearing your house colors that will represent you within the virtual reality world and donning cutting edge wearable VR technology, including headsets, backpacks, hand and foot trackers, and peripheral wands that allow interaction with the virtual experiences. Thanks to these multiple body-mounted trackers, the sensory effects and immersive virtual environment deliver a level of realism and body-matching unlike anything experienced before.
The first experience, “Chaos at Hogwarts”, starts with you and up to five others arriving at King’s Cross station for a trip to Hogwarts Castle. This adventure is particularly amazing as users move freely around a completely virtual environment because all the hardware is body-mounted and can see the avatars of the rest of the group moving around them in the same space.
“Wizards Take Flight” allows up to six users to mount their brooms for a ride around the grounds of Hogwarts – again, completely under your control. If you want to sweep past the Whomping Willow or race through the Quidditch pitch, the choice is yours. But be aware, you never know when the magical can bring unexpected results.
One more little insight that will help make your virtual reality experience at Harry Potter New York even more exciting: you will be equipped with your own VR wand and keeping a few rehearsed spells in mind will help… my favorites:
- “Riddikulus” will take something scary and turns it into something silly.
- For defense, “Petrificus Totalus” is a full-body binding curse
- Why carry a muggle flashlight when “Lumos” will illuminate the tip of your wand?
- “Crucio” will cause excruciating pain (yeah, it is an “unforgivable curse”, but you never know when you might need it).
- And, of course, “Confundo” will confuses a person or bewitch an object that you target.
Tickets with a reserved time slot are required for both the VR experiences and may be purchased for $34 each at www.harrypotterstore.com/tickets. New tickets will be released regularly on the site and booking early 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. Regular visitors to the store need to register in a virtual queue, but guests who have purchased VR experience do not need to and may proceed to the front of the line when they arrive at the store.
In addition to the incredible virtual reality experiences, Harry Potter New York is, of course, a massive 21,000 sq. ft store in the heart of New York City’s Flatiron district dedicated to all things from the Wizarding World – cloaks, scarves, and all manner of products from the different houses at Hogwarts are available along with a tremendous selection of wands (both those original to the store and others directly based on those used by characters in the stories). Also available are a collection of the snacks that Harry Potter introduced us to, brought to life for your enjoyment – I brought home a chocolate frog (complete with wizarding trading card), a large box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans… but the run-away favorite for me was the Butterbeer pub at the where you can indulge in a draft of the sweet drink yourself.
Visit Harry Potter New York at 935 Broadway in New York City, with entrances on both Broadway and Fifth Avenue. The store is open from 10am-9pm Mon through Sat and 11am-7pm on Sundays. You can visit www.harrypotterstore.com for the most up-to-date information regarding ticket sales, arrival instructions, and health and safety protocols.