Did you know that the Forbidden Forest has come to Texas? Now, you can experience Harry Potter up close with this immersive, family friendly exhibit in Little Elm, Texas. The exhibit will only be there until the end of December 2023, so make your plans now to visit. Be sure to get your tickets to the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience online ahead of time. (insert custom ticket link) Check out a video of the experience here. Here you’ll find all the details you need to decide if you want to check it out and some tips to help you have the most fun while you’re there. Plus, keep reading for tips about where to stay and what else there is to do in Little Elm while you’re there! Spoilers ahead for what you’ll see at the experience. This was a hosted trip and experience but the views and opinions expressed are my own.

What is the Forbidden Forest?

Fans of Harry Potter will recognize the Forbidden Forest as the Dark Forest that surrounds Hogwarts School of Wizardary and Magic. It’s a place of hidden secrets, sometimes scary encounters, and the setting for a large part of several of the books. The Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience is a nighttime experience that takes place at Little Elm Park. The lit path is ADA accessible and so are all of the interactive parts of the trail. The experience does require quite a bit of walking, so be prepared with comfortable shoes and strollers or wagons for little ones.

Familiar characters on the trail.

The Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience will bring you face to face with some familiar and beloved characters from the world of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts. The trail begins with an iconic Patronus statue that’s a great photo op. From there, you’ll meander down the lit forest path to a gathering point. After that the fun begins as you spot Hagrid and Fang. You’ll have a chance to greet a Hippogriff, so be sure to bow politely and see if it bows back! Keep your eyes open for owls, werewolves, Nifflers, and even a troll!

Wands at the ready.

Throughout the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience there are interactive stations where you can use your wand to participate. Wands are available to purchase at the check in area at the beginning of the trail, but if you don’t buy one you can still participate. There are workers stationed at each interactive display with a special wand that you can borrow. One of our favorites was the opportunity to cast our own Patronus charm! My son’s Patronus was a panther and my daughter’s was a wolf. You have the option to observe the interactive exhibits as you pass by, and opt out of them, or wait in the line to give them a try. As you get to the village, there are many stations to test out your wand, including a wizard’s duel. The duel is a fantastic photo op so be sure to have your wands, and camera, ready!

A holiday village.

At the end of the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest experience trail you will arrive at a village at Christmastime. It’s cozy and welcoming, with a large bonfire, Christmas trees, and places to gather. There are multiple food and beverage vendors, including a sweets shack with Golden Snitch cake pops! You can enjoy a Butterbeer and roast a marshmallow, or try some cauldron stew or other Harry Potter themed food and drinks. The signature drink from the sweets shack was a butterfly pea tea that came with it’s own light! It’s a great place to sit and soak in the magical vibes. There are a few last photo ops as you exit. One is an archway featuring Mistletoe as a nod to Harry and Cho’s holiday kiss. On your way out you’ll exit through the gift shop which has a wide assortment of gifts and goodies, with items representing each house.

A few things to know about the Forbidden Forest.

First, be sure to get your tickets to the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience ahead of time. It will get busy and this will assure your spot. You can also pay for parking ahead of time online for $5. It’s $8 for parking if you pay onsite, and they can accept credit cards on site as well. When you arrive, you can walk over to the booths to pick up your goodies if you ordered the Deluxe bundle, which includes a souvenir letter, a Butterbeer stein, a treat, lanyard, and tote bag. The booths at the welcome area is also where you’ll get the interactive wands. A tip: get a Butterbeer at the beginning to enjoy as you walk through the experience. Also, costumes are absolutely welcome and perhaps even encouraged. Don’t be afraid to represent your house!

A word of caution for very young children.

This experience is a nighttime exhibit and it’s quite dark. The path is lit and clearly marked, and please be sure to stay on the path. But, it’s very dark in some places and may be scary for young children. The audio in the background is interrupted periodically by He Who Shall Not Be Named and it is loud. There are parts of the trail that feel ominous, remember, it’s representing the Dark Forest. One of the creatures you’ll encounter is Aragorn and his crew of spiders, which may also be scary for young children.

The exhibit can get very crowded, so while it says it may only take 45 minutes to walk through, plan on two hours. Some of the interactive stations and photo ops have lines to wait in that take some time. I recommend downloading their app to try some of the quizzes or learn about the creatures along the way or help pass the time as you wait.

Lastly, the walk from the parking lot to the exhibit is pretty long. They do have some golf carts running to assist anyone who may need it. The walk-through exhibit is also quite a lot of walking, but you hardly notice because it’s so well done. There are lights and things to spot along the entire trail. Be sure to wear comfortable shoes and dress in appropriate layers depending on the weather. For younger children, you can bring a stroller or wagon.

This photo is low quality due to poor lighting but it gives you an idea of how dark the path can be in places.

Is the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience worth it?

The Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience is absolutely worth seeing. There is only one exhibit like this and it travels the world. It’s currently in Little Elm, Texas until the end of December 2023. Then the exhibit will move to Singapore for the first part of 2024. It’s a great way to go to a fully immersive Harry Potter Experience without having to travel to a big amusement park. It’s especially magical to experience the exhibit during the Christmas holiday.

Where to stay in Little Elm?

Little Elm is a city in the greater Dallas area and the Lakefront Area of Little Elm is a great place to visit with a family. We stayed at the brand new The Elm by Ramada. It’s a really fun, new hotel with a gorgeous fourth floor lobby and restaurant. The lobby has a great deck that surrounds it and overlooks a wakeboard park and part of Lake Lewisville. The rooms are spacious and comfortable too! The hotel also has a workout facility and outdoor pool. My favorite amenity: a coffeeshop in fourth floor lobby.

What else is there to do in Lakefront Little Elm?

Our hotel was right next to, and within walking distance, of Tinman Social. This entertainment venue has all sorts of outdoor space to gather with games like bocce ball and corn hole. Inside, there are two floors, with high tech bowling lanes on each floor, as well as pool tables, indoor bocce ball, an arcade, and axe throwing. The axe throwing is for ages 14 and up. There’s a restaurant and bar on each floor, with a great menu, including a gluten free flat bread option. You can order food and drinks to enjoy while you play your games as well. We bowled for 30 minutes then hit up the arcade after we ate. It was an absolute blast and a great place for families with kids of all ages.

An epic indoor waterpark.

Lakefront Little Elm has a beautiful community fitness center that is also home to a huge indoor waterpark. The Cove at the Lakefront is a beautiful indoor waterpark that features multiple water play structures, slides, a climbing structure, lap swim lanes, a lazy river, and a double FlowRider wave rider. They even have a water play area that is specifically for younger children. There are a few smaller slides and two large tube slides. The Cove has a few cabanas you can rent too, with comfortable couches and even a small fridge for all day comfort and fun. There’s a restaurant onsite and a bar on the upper level. Be sure to follow their Facebook and Instagram pages to stay up to date on special events happening throughout the year.

The Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience and Lakefront Little Elm.

The Lakefront area of Little Elm is a great family getaway, with several fun restaurants, a wakeboard park, fun entertainment, playgrounds, and the indoor waterpark. Little Elm Park is a beautiful green space as well. Be sure to plan a family getaway to the Lakefront at Little Elm before the end of December 2023, so you can see the Harry Potter Forbidden Forest Experience before it flies away! Looking for more holiday experiences? Check out this unique holiday light show at Space Center Houston!

coleyraeh school room homeschool

Nichole is a writer, content creator, and family travel and adventure influencer residing in southwest Arkansas. Though her and her husband (Ryan) are originally from the midwest, they’ve lived in Arkansas for ten years now and are thrilled to call it home. They have homeschooled their children from the beginning of their educational journey. They have a now 12 year old son and 9 year old daughter, along with a 9 month old, 100 pound Direwolf Dog puppy named Levi. Nichole is an avid outdoor adventurer and roadtripper and has been taking her kids on adventures by herself since they were infants, it’s all part of what she calls being responsibly brave. She is also on the Executive Team for Run Wild My Child and has contributed to Wild and Free. Be sure to follow her on Instagram and Facebook to stay up to date with all of their shenanigans.