Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience – Experience Review

Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience is something that I’ve had my eye on for years. I’ve seen friends around the world visit this experience long before I realised it was a traveling event. Prior to it being announced for Australia, I even contemplated going to Singapore for it. Thankfully, I didn’t have to as it was announced for right here in Melbourne.

Except, the event isn’t in Melbourne. It’s still in the state of Victoria but is located at The Briars Community Forest on Mount Martha on the Mornington Peninsula. While Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience isn’t in Melbourne, it is still the closest city to it and is just a little over an hour’s drive outside of Melbourne, depending on where you reside.

Unfortunately, there’s no public transport to Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience, so if you don’t drive, you’re going to have to find someone who can drive that can help you get to the venue. Ride sharing services is not recommended either as it’s quite far and I can’t even imagine how pricey it would cost by the time you arrive. Although you may get a ride to the location via a ride share service, there is no guarantee you’ll be able to get a trip back. Instead, it would be ideal to plan to go with family, a significant other, or with a group of friends who all have their own motor vehicle for transportation. There is parking available at the location which you can pre-book when purchasing your ticket.

Upon arriving at the venue, you’ll find yourself in a lovely food village. Intimately lit, this Hogsmeade inspired area has generous servings of meals (the fish and chips and dagwood dogs were delicious), snacks, Butterbeer, and there are even Hogwarts House themed hot chocolate drinks that you can try that are different depending on the house you choose! I’m a Ravenclaw and I was happy to choose the Ravenclaw House Hot Chocolate which consisted of vanilla hot chocolate topped with whipped cream, a blue glitter dusting and wafer.

For the Butterbeer drink, they’re served cold and have the option of being served in a special hard plastic Butterbeer stein that you can keep and take home with you. There is also the option of just buying the cup itself. The cup is definitely worth getting! They’re quite sturdy and I received two of these that I happily took home. I admittedly didn’t like the Butterbeer though that Leaky Cauldron inspired food stall was serving.

There is a merchandise shop available but you cannot enter it until you scan yourself in to walk the Potter inspired trail. Make sure to prepare your wallets prior to visiting as while the store may appear small when you enter, the bigger part of the shop is when you finish your journey, which makes sense as you wouldn’t want to lug all your purchases with you while you’re walking through the Forbidden Forest Experience. Prior to the walk, you’ll have the opportunity to purchase Hogwarts House themed merchandise like beanies, scarves, hoodies, tote bags and even light-up wands. If you’re after more merchandise, like pins, plushies, magnets and snowglobes etc., they’ll be ready and waiting for you to purchase at the end of your journey.

Although Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience has been held at various cities around the world, what makes this one unique is it’s how it’s been designed around its terrain. The Briars Community Forest, despite its distance from Melbourne, is the perfect location for this event. When you’re walking through the forest, you really feel like you’ve been transported into the Wizarding World. The special effects, props, figures, items, are all cleverly theatrical and intimately lit, it really feels like magic is happening right before your eyes.

Estimated to take over an hour, I took twice as long as you can go at your pace because I loved the attention to detail from the Hippogriff, Owls, Cornish Pixies, Pygmy Puffs, Bowtruckles, Nifflers and Unicorns to Thestrals. The ideal time to attend would be at twilight, just before the sun has set as there are certain elements that look much better at night.

Everything has been carefully curated to delight avid Harry Potter fans regardless of age. There are multiple photo opportunities available and dressing up is encouraged! In fact, this would be a perfect photo setting for any Harry Potter cosplayers out there. I even saw a lovely little family each dressed up in their Hogwarts House colours and it was adorable to witness every avid fan react with delight whenever they noticed and recognised an iconic Harry Potter item or figure. There are also several interactive sections along the trail that are opportune moments to pull out a wand for.

Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience is family friendly and is designed around an existing walking trail, so do not fret, you won’t be wandering through bushes or anything like that. The path is wheelchair accessible and families can easily bring a pram with them too. Just make sure when you are attending to wear warm clothes and comfortable shoes, as this is a walking trail after all. As this is an outdoor experience, the event will go ahead regardless of weather, so if you’re paranoid that it might rain on your parade, you could pack an umbrella or poncho, or try book closer to the date when you can check the weather, although tickets are selling quite fast!

One of the highlights of the experience was being able to conjure my own Patronus and it was interesting watching what animals patrons unleashed when they had a go. I also adored seeing the giant spiders everywhere on the walking trail, just like how Ron and Harry experienced them in the movies. Yes, even Aragog is there which was bloody cool! However, my ultimate favourite part of the experience was getting the opportunity to graciously bow to Buckbeak the Hippogriff, well worth the admission alone.

If you choose to get the Deluxe Bundle ticket, you’ll get a lovely merchandise bundle that includes a souvenir letter, Butterbeer stein, magnet, and a special tote bag. Despite the stein which you can purchase from the food stalls, the rest of the items are exclusive to the Deluxe Bundle, aren’t available in store, and are excellent quality. My favourite of these souvenirs was the tote bag. It’s just so pretty with Harry’s glowing stag Patronus on it. When purchasing merchandise at the shop, make sure to get everything you want before leaving because sadly, there is no online store if you have forgotten anything. Although, for past attendees I feel there should be!

You don’t have to have read every single Harry Potter book, but it helps to have seen every Harry Potter movie including the Fantastic Beasts film series, as a lot of the characters come from both. If you’re a massive Harry Potter fan like me, Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience is worthy of a visit. In fact, it made me want to watch the movies and read the books again. I loved the experience so much, I am hoping to return before it leaves Australia. Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience is truly magical.

Presented by Warner Bros. Discovery Global Themed Entertainment in partnership with Fever and IMG, Harry Potter: A Forbidden Forest Experience will be at The Briars Community Forest, Mount Martha, Mornington Peninsula until June 30th.
For more information and ticketing, please visit:
https://hpforbiddenforestexperience.com

Photography by Grant Alexander.

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