Wednesday night we finally got to go somewhere we always wanted to visit: The Magic Castle. If you're not familiar with it, The Magic Castle is a pretty well known landmark in L.A. It's a clubhouse operated by the Academy of Magical Arts, an organization devoted to the advancement of magic as an artform. The Magic Castle is one of the rare places where you can still see magic shows.
The Magic Castle from the outside. Sorry it's so hard to see, but it was pretty dark. (12/28/05)
Because it's a private club, the only way you can get in is by being a member, or being invited by one. We were fortunate enough to be the recipient of an invitation through our friend Sabrina (a schoolmate and co-worker of our friend Amy, who over time has become our friend too). Sabrina knows some club members. And when she invited Jon, Amy, Tim and me to go with her, we jumped at the chance.
Located in the Hollywood Hills, The Magic Castle was built in 1908 and served as a private home (and later an apartment building) for more than 50 years. Then in the early '60s, it was converted into the private club that exists today. The original dress code is still strictly enforced (coat and tie for men, cocktail attire for women).
Tim and I hope our attire meets the stringent dress code standards. (12/28/05)
After leaving work early and driving to Hollywood, Tim, Jon, Amy and I arrived just after 6:00 p.m. The first room we entered had no visible doors other than the main entrance. To get into the next room, you had to say "Open Sesame" to a brass owl on a bookshelf. Then presto! ... one of the bookshelves magically opened and let you into the castle.
No photography was allowed, but I magically found some photos of the interior. These are the bookcases that slide open when you say "Open Sesame" to the brass owl.
Inside there are a variety of stages and performing areas, including the Close-Up Gallery (a theater that seats 20 people where magicians perform sleight of hand magic), The Museum (a small room that was at one time the main stage), the Parlour of Prestidigitation (a medium-size performance room) and the Palace of Mystery (the largest theater in the building). In addition there were at least three different bars, a full service restaurant and a lounge where Irma, a piano-playing ghost, takes requests.
This is the first bar you enter. Just behind it is the room where Irma, the piano-playing ghost lurks.
In addition to having dinner, we saw two full magic shows (in the close-up room and the large theater), both of which were incredibly entertaining, And like always, I couldn't figure out how a single trick was done. The main show was very exciting ... especially the hilarious puppet show opening act.
This is the main dining room, near where we sat. It had a great view of Hollywood's landmark Roosevelt Hotel.
Overall, it was a lot of fun, and I would recommend it for anyone who has never been. Keep in mind, however, that it gets very crowded inside, if only for the fact that the building wasn't originally designed to handle crowds. The only thing I wouldn't recommend is eating at the restaurant, which was a little pricey for what you get. Next time we'll eat before we get there and simply go for drinks and magic shows.