It’s not every day that a magical experience comes to Chicago, and that’s exactly what happened when this extraordinary Harry Potter™: experience made its worldwide debut at the Water Tower Place on Michigan Avenue last November. It has received excellent reviews since opening, so we had to see it for ourselves.
This massive 30,000-square-foot experience, created by Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment and Original X Productions, opened on the most whimsical and fitting of days on 11/11 and has entertained wizards, witches, and muggles of all ages ever since.
If you’re wondering about Harry Potter: Magic at Play Chicago reviews, you’ve come to the right place! Ana Belaval of WGN TV shared, “Harry Potter fans will go crazy over this new experience in Chicago,” and journalist Lizzy Buczak of nationally known publication Parade said, “Harry Potter: Magic at Play delivers on exactly what it promises: magic at play.” Keep scrolling to read our review of this magical experience and see our favorite moments so that you can make the most of your visit!
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As soon as we rode the elevator up to the second-floor entrance, and laid eyes on the replica of the Dursley home, we knew we were in for a magical adventure. The famous home at 4 Privet Drive has captivated audiences for decades on the big screen, and this exact copy of the home at Harry Potter™: Magic at Play in Chicago doesn’t disappoint. From the identical brick color of the house, to the many owls perched on the roof, you’re going to want to snap a load of photos at this spot.Accio adventure…Tickets are currently available here and you can read on for the rest of our review on Harry Potter: Magic at Play Chicago.
Once you step inside the Dursley’s living room, you’ll notice the flock of Hogwarts™ acceptance letters above the mantel and an extra unique portion of the experience—a ginormous slide that the kids can enjoy. Although, if you’re a big kid at heart, we suggest a trip down the slide too. Before leaving this space, be sure to check out the cupboard under the stairs, where Harry slept.
Next, you’re off to one of our favorite areas of the experience. We spent a ton of time snapping photos at the Kings Cross Station at platform 9 3/4, which has the push cart props for your luggage and looks so much like the version in London, we couldn’t help but be impressed.
Just around the corner from there is an identical model of the Hogwarts Express™, which has actual steam spewing from its engine, so be sure to get your cameras ready because it’s such a unique part of the experience. While you can’t go inside the train, you can pose for photos in front of it—which is exactly what we did. If you take a closer look, you’ll be amazed at the detail that went into building this train.
Just past the Hogwarts Express™ is the iconic Hogsmeade Village, and yet another unique spot to explore, from piles of old-school luggage to an entire candy stand that resembles the iconic Honeydukes shop from the films. While the candy stand at this Harry Potter™ experience is for display, it’s the perfect colorful backdrop for pictures!
Once you leave Hogsmeade, it’s time to hop on those magical boats to Hogwarts™. We felt just like the first-year students during this part of the experience and were blown away by how the designers replicated the boathouse and Black Lake through lighting, creating a magical space for Potter fans. They didn’t miss any details—you can see a massive image of Hogwarts™ castle in the distance, and the boats even come with little lanterns, so you really feel immersed in the Wizarding World™.
After we hopped off the boats, we couldn’t wait to open those gigantic wooden doors to the Great Hall. This is, hands-down, our favorite part of this Harry Potter™ experience in Chicago. The walls were made to look as if they were aged hundreds of years, the mantel was massive, just like in the films, and of course, we couldn’t help but marvel at the slew of candles that hung from the ceiling that helped make this room pure magic.
The best photo op has to be in front of the High Table and stained-glass window. This spot looks like the area from the movies where the professors would sit during meals, facing the communal tables of the students at the Hogwarts™ School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
After enjoying the Great Hall, we walked past the iconic portrait area and were sorted into our houses for another epic photo op before venturing to the classes.
We spent such a long time in the potions area because you could actually take a closer look at all types of ingredients and smell them. You can actually learn how to make famous spells like the Polyjuice Potion and Felix Felicis (aka liquid luck!).
There’s the Divination room with a beautiful crystal ball and a stack of whimsical teacups; and you can even practice your levitation skills in Charms class with the ‘Wingardium Leviosa’ magic spell, which was so fun! Be sure to ward off a swarm of pixies in Defense Against the Dark Arts, too.
After you enjoy being a student at Hogwarts™, it’s time to stroll over to the floor filled with games. Test out your Quidditch™ skills by finding out your ideal position, and explore interactive games that train you to see your strength for the Beater position, test your aim for becoming a Chaser, and see how fast you react as a Seeker.
Plus, there are a slew of other games to enjoy onsite that parents and kids would love! The best part is the photo you can get flying your broom, which is set up with a green screen to make it look so real!
We loved stepping into the Forbidden Forest…but before we did, we made sure to grab a lantern to seek out a Patronus by lighting up the walls, which was so cool to see! You’ll love visiting Hagrid’s hut, as well, and helping lift some of the heavy pumpkins. Don’t leave without getting lost in the Triwizard Maze. We don’t want to give everything away, but be sure to look for plenty of Easter Eggs in this space!
Another part we enjoyed was creating our custom LEGO® wizard by standing in front of a massive screen and making it look just like us.
Make sure you visit the downstairs shop for Butterbeer and other themed treats like a Chocolate Wand, Bertie Bott’s Every-Flavour Beans™, and the Chocolate Frog™.
There’s also a slew of merchandise you’ll want to get your hands on, like robes celebrating your house pride, so if you’re a Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, or Slytherin, you’ll find something you love! You’ll also find t-shirts, mugs, stuffed animals, an exclusive Magic at Play wand (only available at the experience and online), and more! What we love the most is that you don’t need a ticket to visit this area of the experience for delicious treats and unique merch, you’ll cherish forever!
We know we’ll be back to see what’s new often, oh and to sip an endless supply of Butterbeer!Harry Potter Magic at Play Chicago Reviews
Molly L. – “Such a great experience! All of the staff members were fun, inviting, and helpful. My family and I had a blast! 10/10 would recommend!!”
Angela K. – “Magic at Play had the best parts of the London studio tour brought to Chicago. It’s not just for children; it’s for the kid inside of everyone.”
Isa L. – “I really enjoyed the experience as a whole. It was truly magical. My favorite part was going through the classroom floor and potions.”