The Rowling Library team was invited to the Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience in Westchester, New York. We’ll share what we thought of this new attraction for fans of the Wizarding World, based on the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films.
Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience is a new experience created by Fever together with Warner Bros. where we are invited to walk through a dark forest to discover fantastic beasts and iconic scenes from the Wizarding World.
The experience is also present in the United Kingdom (Cheshire), Belgium (Groenenberg) and in another location in the United States as well: Leesburg, Virginia. We had the opportunity to go in October, prior to its November opening, to the Forbidden Forest Experience located in Westchester, New York.
As soon as we arrive we are greeted with an illuminated sculpture of a Patronus and that’s the first opportunity to take a picture mixing nature with magic. Then there is a food and beverages area with a wide variety of options before you begin your walk.
The trail, which goes through the woods of the Franklin D. Roosevelt State Park, lasts between 60 and 90 mintues, depending on how fast you walk. There is no guide, so the hike is at your own pace and you can take as much time as you want to take pictures or record videos.
Once we start with the walk we find different points of entertainment: theatrical illusions made with lights and sounds, fantastic beasts hidden among the trees and other objects of the Forbidden Forest of Hogwarts that have an unnatural origin, such as the Ford Anglia.
From a Buckbeak that bows back when a person bows before him (an effect that kids love), to a group of centaurs that watch people and discuss among themselves what they should do (rest assured, they chose not to hurt us), these beasts are accompanied by sounds and light effects that make the experience 100% immersive.
Not everything is completely passive: there are interactive activities, such as being part of a wand duel with lightning effects, or summoning our own Patronus and seeing it projected in front of the trees. But this is not all because we also have to make a decision on the path: whether to go towards Aragog’s lair, which can be a bit creepy for those who fear spiders, or continue on the safe path. When we reach the end of the walk, we come across an iconic scene from the films, which we are able to observe from a distance, a lake in between, just as Harry does towards the end of the third film.
Before leaving the place, obviously, there is a gift shop to buy souvenirs. Most of the products available seem to be focused on the fantastic beasts from the forest, and there are exclusive items that you can only find there.
Perhaps its only negative point is the location: it is not easy to get there if you don’t have your own car, as it is not possible to get there by public transportation. We had to go with a shareride app, which was not cheap.
Personally we found it an original idea, different from what is usually offered related to Harry Potter. It mixes an outdoor walk in a state park, with lots of Wizarding World decorations. The experience seems to be designed more for children, although adults can enjoy it equally. We believe the whole family, Harry Potter fans or not, can look forward to a different yet magical experience.