It's been a long 18 months of pandemic, and at least in the double-vaxxed world, things are looking up as far as preventing death and serious illness. With all this being cooped up, it's my belief that immersive experiences like The Wizard's Den will be popular for young professionals who grew up with Harry Potter culture or are looking for an escape from reality. In August, I had the pleasure of attending 2 separate evenings at The Wizard's Den in Vancouver, an experience that's been praised by Timeout in Australia.
Read on for the Vancouver flavour of this potion-brewing, alcohol-flowing night.
Disclosure: I attended 2 media previews, one during the day, and one in the evening for this event which I did not pay for. All opinions are my own.
I'm going to divide this coverage into the following sections:
The entire experience is a 90-minute experience which includes:
- waiting room
- welcome ceremony + welcome drink ("Not Butterbeer")
- 2 riddles with scavenger hunts
- 2 potions
The waiting room is just a holding area for about 10 minutes while everyone files in and produces their ticket. Once you're in the main area, you're presented with a wand for the night. I was extremely bummed that these wands did not light up like the ones used by our hosts.
The welcome ceremony introduces guests to the potion master, her minions (potion staff), and the portrait of Lady Morticia whose spirit governs over the experience. A welcome drink is served at this time, the "Not Butterbeer" Cocktail.
Following the welcome ceremony comes the riddle portion of the event which has guests reading through riddles and deciphering the answer. Once the answer is achieved, you'll search around the room for a corresponding rune and use that to learn how to brew your first potion.
The riddling portion here is no joke. You'll need a good grasp of pattern recognition and wordplay to succeed. All roads eventually lead to the bar where you receive your ingredients and head back to your table to brew your potion (i.e. cocktail).
For the second riddle, you're presented with 3 parts of a riddle to either search for in the room or decipher an answer for. Again, all roads lead to the bar where you'll receive your ingredients and head back to your table to brew your potion. This one had a cool dry ice smoke effect!
With the conclusion of the 2 potion brews, the programming finishes. There is an ultimate choice made by the guests of the night to either "banish Lady Morticia forever" or to "summon her back into the world" which is done by raising your wand into the air. Obviously us guests live life on the edge so we raised our wands, welcomed Lady Morticia back into our world, had our wands confiscated, and proceeded to exit the venue.
I found the immersion of this event to be much better on my second visit. The characters/staff we met stayed in character but the pretend theatrics were a little much (they dropped a super meta hint that there wasn't enough budget to hire a live Lady Morticia).
The Wizard's Den taking place in the former "Prost Haus". A lot of redecorating was done to insert heritage-style furniture and a lot of Tudor-style trinkets. The room looks better after sunset with all the string lights so I'd recommend an evening session if you can.
One thing to note is that the venue booked for Wizard's Den is hot as balls. The room is basically a greenhouse with clear roofs installed on the top of Dublin Calling and the ventilation wasn't great. I think things will get better as summer winds down into cooler autumn months.
Don't get me wrong, I am super into Harry Potter lore, with which this event has no affiliation with, but this event is strictly a magical-themed night that draws a lot of inspiration from the lore of Happy Potter. It is however, no remote substitute for something like the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios.
About that $44 ticket. Comparatively, it costs $8-$14 for cocktails in Vancouver depending on how fancy you get. Three drinks then at Wizard's Den isn't a terrible deal since you are also paying for the programming and the pop-up operation. The cocktails for the most part were tasty, drawing in lots of lemon juice and various herbs like rosemary in the mixes.
Your enjoyment of this event comes down to expectations. If you've got some fun, magically-inspired clothing like a Ravenclaw-clad robe you've been dying to bust out, this is a guided 90-minute potion-brewing exercise for you to be yourself and come out a little tipsier than when you started.
One-liner: A carefully curated cocktail brewing experience where you get a little zip in your potion and a zap in magical programming
Highlight: The potion-drinking
Price per person: $44
Would I go back? Yes for a post-pandemic feeling kind of night with friends.