April 14, 2024
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‘Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience’ Starts Three-Month Run in Westchester

It may officially be known as FDR State Park, but for the next three months, the scenic Westchester recreation area will be the home of a magical nighttime retreat for wizards and muggles of all ages.

“Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience” opened last week in Yorktown Heights, the first American location for the attraction, which debuted last year in England. Set on one of the park’s wooded trails as it meanders through the trees, the Forbidden Forest is truly magical, the darkened woods strategically illuminated with colored lights as Harry, Hermione, Ron, Dumbledore and Hagrid’s voices echo along the path.

Being able to bring Manny and Abie, two of my Harry Potter-obsessed grandsons, with me to a media preview last week definitely bumped me up to most-favorite-Bubby status as my boys got to exchange bows with Buckbeak, catch glimpses of a unicorn and come face to face with the giant spider Arogog, as a fleet of smaller spiders came crashing down over our heads. Without a doubt, the coolest spot on the trail was the dueling area, where a helpful guide supplied Manny and Abie with wands, a zig-zagging colored light display measuring their magical powers as they cast spells at each other. Equally exciting was the area where the boys were handed wands once again and told to concentrate on their happiest memories in order to conjure up a Patronus charm to ward off deathly spirits known as dementors. It’s hard to imagine a wannabe-wizard who wouldn’t be delighted by the opportunity to shout, “Expecto patronum!” into the night sky and be rewarded by images of wispy animals flying through the air.

“Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience” is a Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment project presented in conjunction with Thinkwell, Unify and Fever, showcasing both the “Harry Potter” series and its “Fantastic Beasts” spinoff. While there are concepts and creatures inherent to the Forbidden Forest that can be scary, children who have enjoyed the books or movies should be OK with the experience, and those with a fear of spiders have an opportunity to bypass Aragon and his many many-legged children. The attraction includes a full Hogsmeade-type village with snacks and souvenirs, but be warned that at least on the night that we were there, there were no kosher snacks available.

While the Forbidden Forest may be Hogwarts off-limits to all students, its Yorktown Heights counterpart is open nightly through January 22, with multiple after-dark time slots available. Tickets start at $25 for children ages 5 through 15 and $36 for adults for some weeknights, and range as high as $64 for children and $75 for adults on weekends and holidays. Located approximately 40 miles from Teaneck, the Forbidden Forest is open rain or shine, and it goes without saying that fall and winter nights in the Hudson Valley area can be quite chilly, so be sure to dress appropriately. To learn more and book tickets, visit https://hpforbiddenforestexperience.com/westchester/

By Sandy Eller

 

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