Thursday, May 24, 2012

Traveling Thursdays: The Magic Castle

Located on a hill in Hollywood, The Magic Castle looks like the perfect place for a Halloween party. Instead, it's an exclusive club for magicians and those who like magic, with a membership of approximately 5000.

Unfortunately, there are no cameras allowed beyond the lobby (drat those magicians!). Inside, the styling and decor is pure overdone Victorian, and I love it. Every step you take, there is something else to see, and another room to explore.

Originally a private residence built in 1909, the Magic Castle was repurposed by Milt Larsen, a writer on the NBC TV show "Truth or Consequences." Larsen's father was a famous magician, and Milt simply carried out his father's dream of building an elegant club for magicians, opening its doors in 1963.

The Magic Castle looks a lot more impressive (and somewhat spooky) at night:

From the Magic Castle brochure:

When you spoke the words "Open Sesame" and entered our Castle you left the reality world behind you. In 1963 my late brother and I magically turned a grand 1910 mansion into a club for magicians. We created an old world charm that you might find in London, Paris or New York. We wanted you to feel that you have been invited to a party in the elaborate estate of a famous magician. Please enjoy our fun atmosphere, food and libations and above all, appreciate the opportunity to witness a plethora of famed sleight of hand artists from all over the world. In the universe there is only on Magic Castle. Enjoy your visit.

The magic shows are a ton of fun, and there are plenty of things to see and do inside. Top on the list is Irma the magical piano. The invisible Irma takes requests. It's true!

To get in, you must be a member or the guest of a member. I highly recommend it.

One caveat though...don't go for the food. Although it isn't horrible, it's what you'd expect to find at a high school reunion catered hotel meal. I'm sure that paints the picture for you.

Another way that you can visit the Magic Castle is to stay at the Magic Castle. Warning: there is nothing magical about this place.

Walking into the room, it just felt like it hadn't had a good cleaning in years. I'm not even sure that a deep cleaning would help. Stains on the couch; layers of paint along the baseboards covering up God knows what.

The guests appeared to be tourists (mainly from out of the country) who probably didn't know any better.

It is probably one old (but not old enough) apartment building that SHOULD have been leveled and started from scratch. No historic or vintage charm to be found here.

See more Hollywood Magic Castle photos on my Magic Castle web page.


Dave Meek said...

Thanks for the story on the Magic Castle (not the motel). My cousin, Mark Cannon, is a performing member there and it truly is a wonderful place to go and see some world class magic.

jedblau said...

My family and I love the Magic Castle! You're right about the food, though. It's better than a few years ago, but still marginal and VERY expensive. In the basement, there is/used to be a display with Ed Wynn memorabilia, including some items that can be seen in the Golden Horseshoe Revue film that Disneyland produced in the 60's.

TokyoMagic! said...

We took my dad there about 15 years ago for his 60th birthday. They allowed one photo to be taken during the visit, but you had to leave your camera downstairs with the host and then come down to get it when you were ready to take your one photo. Then you were supposed to run the camera back downstairs after that. I got a great shot of a "ghoul" delivering my dad's birthday cake to him at the table, but then I decided if they wanted my camera, they could come and get it from me. They never did, and I never took another photo with it, but it bothered me that the camera had to be left with them. I want to know what they do these days with everyone having a cell phone?

William Bezek said...

One of my favorite evenings, magicians performing around every corner, and the maze of rooms and hallways reminded me of the Winchester mystery house.