This Victorian mansion built in 1908 in the Hollywood Hills is home to the Academy of Magical Arts, an organization dedicated ... More
Magic Castle (The)
This Victorian mansion built in 1908 in the Hollywood Hills is home to the Academy of Magical Arts, an organization dedicated to the advancement of the art of magic. It's an interesting house to pass by on your walk or drive through Hollywood. The purpose of the Academy is to advance the public awareness of the art of magic as well as to preserve its history. Nearly 5,000 souls hold memberships here. For members, the castle serves as a restaurant and entertainment venue as well as an educational facility. Membership fees are steep for a first-time payment. Unless you're an avid magic devotee, it's best just to visit the online gift shop, which is open to the public.
We visited last weekend and really enjoyed the whole experience. The price wasn't too bad and it was worth it seeing how much our kids enjoyed it. There was a little bit for everyone and staff was friendly and entertaining.
First, as a quick update to HopeC's review, just want to note that there are currently no prices listed for the Saturday/Sunday Brunch at the website. However, when you call to make reservations, the admission, brunch, and valet parking fees are specifically quoted. Also specifically mentioned is the dress code. More relaxed for the weekend brunches, but since we were clearly told, '...no jeans, no shorts, no flip flops....' we were dismayed to see so many jean wearers the day we went. We did voice a mild complaint to the management about this, and their response was '...members don't always tell their guests about the dress code... and we can't turn them away.' Well, that's apparently 'in the moment' because I do, in fact, know of someone who had previously been turned away for not adhering to the dress code. Second, as HopeC indicated, the small shows are difficult to navigate in between the brunch times, and this is made even worse by the 'rude exuberance' of some visitors, especially families with children who want to make sure the little ones get to see everything. However, to the EXTREMELY RUDE group of people (with no little ones I might add), who pushed their way into one of the parlors and undermined the experience for everyone else, I can again only fault management for tolerating this type of behavior. The parlors are small, 'first come, first serve,' and guests are advised to arrive at the venue 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start time of the show. So if you have a group of 11 or 12 people, ALL of you should be IN LINE at the same time. We encountered the situation where one person, at the head of the line, 'signaled' to the rest of her group as the doors opened, and they literally barreled their way into the parlor to usurp a whole row of seats while the rest of us had to maneuver our way around them! Verbal sparks did fly and, here again, I can only fault management for not being on top of a situation like this. These complaints aside, however, the Magic Castle truly is a magical place. From the minute you enter the Library door and encounter 'Irma' (the piano playing ghost who actually did play 'Inagadadavida' at our request!) to the absolutely scrumptious buffet, to the parlor shows, to the Palace of Mystery show, and to simply just walking around the place and being transported back into Hollywood history, it really did make for an incredible and unique experience. We did get there a bit too early for our seating time. Valet parking starts at about 10:30, castle doors open at 11:00, but the 11:30 brunch seating attendees were admitted first. So if you're attending a later session, expect to wait a little bit if you do get there early. We didn't have a weather friendly day to roam around outside; but if a nice day, you are welcome to walk around and take pictures outside. No picture taking is allowed inside the castle at all, and that is the one rule I did see being strictly enforced. The parlor shows adhere to a rather strict schedule so, as previously noted, you really do need to be in line several minutes before the scheduled time. You should be able to see at least one of the three parlor shows before or after your reserved brunch time. But even if you miss a parlor show, there are magicians positioned here and there who are absolutely delightful in keeping everyone entertained in between shows and seatings.
Because we have children, we had to book the Sunday Brunch/shows. You've got to get a member to make reservations, but unless they go with you, you will be paying a different price than what is on the website ($35 vs $15-20 per). The buffet brunch is fantastic. There are different shows around the castle at different times, but your reservation for brunch gives you a ticket for the big show later in the day.
It's a weird seating arrangement: brunch at 11am (get to the Castle by 1030am, and parking is valet only -$8), and then you have to maneuver to the different shows at noon, 1245 and later, and they fill up fast, so you may end up waiting around or not seeing one at all. Make sure you get to each room for a show at least 15 minutes early for a spot!
Everyone working there was very nice, the food was good, the shows were lots of fun. I give less than 5 stars just because it was difficult to navigate to the different shows and the price is not accurately reflected on the website (we had a table of nine and theprice was quite a shock, being two times the amount!). However, it is an experience we won't forget, and I would recommend it to others visiting L.A.
Don't miss Irma, the ghost , in the piano bar. Walk up to the piano (roped off) and ask Irma to play ANY song. She'll know it. She played Moon River as well as Bohemian Rhapsody!
Yes it's expensive but you know that going in - first class entertainment, magicians in every corner doing tricks for each other (was told that about 2/3 of the patrons on a given night are themselves magicians from around the country) - must go if you can!
The magic Casle was a fun filled evening from the moment we walked in the door till the time we left. I enjoyed being able to go to different rooms and watch several magicians beform their art. Everyone I came in contact with were very enjoyiale and pleasant. Look forward to an invation back sometime.
If you are looking for the best magic performances in the world, this is the place to go. World class magicians, award winning performances and much more. The dining is great, the staff is more than accomodating. Yes this is not for those with an income budget. Yes, you will leave with memories that will last a lifetime. A must see if magic and the history of magic is your desire. You will want to return again and again. Give yourself 8 hours here and you will not regret it.
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