Set in the beautiful woodland at Arley Hall & Gardens in Cheshire, United Kingdom, the experience takes fans along an interactive path through the trees. As visitors make their way through the woods and follow the illuminated path, they discover wonderful surprises, some of their favorite moments from the Forbidden Forest, and encounter mystical creatures from the blockbuster Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films. Over the course of one mile, guests encounter twenty immersive forest moments and six interactive experiences.
Along the trail, guests come face-to-face with Hippogriffs, centaurs, unicorns, Nifﬂers, and more, brought to life as custom computer animation and life-size dimensional figures. A giant Grawp, Hagrid and his dog Fang, and dozens of other elements also come alive during the journey to greet the forest newcomers.
Visitors can interact with these magical characters and even cast their own spells (“Expecto Patronum!”), bringing the fantastical world of Harry Potter to life with the wave of their wand. With several different visitor engagement moments inspired by iconic scenes, creatures, and characters from the films, guests can explore the wooded trail for hours of interactive enchantment.
The finale of the experience is a massive 120-foot (36.5 meters) scrim projection over a lake using multiple high power projectors, dozens of moving lighting instruments, surround sound, fog, and a dimensional Harry Potter figure that recreates the scene from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. With an “Expecto Patronum!”, the Dementors that descend on media over the water are expelled and evil is vanquished from the forest as the lighting shifts in a panoramic display that wows guests every ten minutes.
After completing their journey through the woods, guests discover a welcoming village, where they are invited to feast on pasties and other hearty fare, enjoy a Butterbeer, or shop for their very own Hogwarts house scarf, robe, wand, and more at an official event shop.
The project began during the pandemic, back in September 2020, when the idea was formed to create an outdoor experience that would allow families and people of all ages to gather and enjoy a magical night in a COVID-safe environment. The experience opened in October 2021 to take advantage of the longer nights in the United Kingdom. It was an extraordinary thing itself that the original CG animation, bespoke interactives were all created in a little over nine months, not to mention an entire infrastructure that was built solely to support the whole experience on the grounds at the forest.
All aspects of the attraction were focused on providing accessibility to all, from the wand interactives to the expanded seating within the Village. Months prior to opening, the entire trail was tested to ensure it would be easily accessible by mobility scooters, which were available for use with no charge on site.
The result was an entirely new approach to the Harry Potter brand; an immersive, interactive walking experience that brings the creatures and characters of the Forbidden Forest to life with one-of-a-kind set pieces, lighting effects, and seamlessly integrated projections.
The sold-out experience ran nightly from October 16, 2021 through January 16, 2022. In 2022, the attraction will return to Cheshire, U.K., along with expanding to new locations around the world.
Warner Bros. Themed Entertainment, Fever, Unify Productions Global