It’s not too tricky to score an invite to the Magic Castle, Hollywood’s members-only magician clubhouse. Since 1963, the century-old Victorian mansion has served as the sort-of-secretive home base for the Academy of Magical Arts. Step inside—reservations and formal dress are required, and no photos, please—and you’ll find performance parlors, secret doors, mysterious illusions and—well, we don’t want to ruin all of the surprises in store. Instead of spending years practicing your craft as a wannabe magician, you can gain access to the Magic Castle in these five ways (ranked from easiest to most difficult).
For most Angelenos, this will be the easiest way to enter. Finding a friend who can get you into the Magic Castle is like playing six degrees of separation: It’s almost a sure thing that your friend’s coworker’s cousin can get you in. Members can hand out guest passes like candy; get one and you’re in, though expect to pay upwards of $75 for the cover charge and dinner. (The door charge is $25 per person from Monday to Thursday nights and during weekend brunch, and $35 per person from Friday to Sunday during the evening.) If you attend the castle accompanied by a member, you can forgo those entry fees, depending on their type of membership.
If you take a look at the Magic Castle’s show schedule, you’ll find a list of magicians coming to the club over the next month or so. Try emailing a performer whose show you’d wish to attend and they can add you to the guest list. Just make sure to ask nicely—they’re magicians, after all, so they’ll know if your sincerity is just an illusion. And again, be prepared for that cover charge and dinner. (Psst: You can make dinner reservations up to 12 weeks in advance.)
Sadly, this hotel isn’t in the actual castle itself. But if you’re into staying next door, the Magic Castle Hotel can book a reservation at the club for you, based on availability. It’s not particularly cheap—rooms start around $200 a night—but the place has startlingly positive reviews, and will deliver complimentary snacks to your room 24 hours a day (and it’s hard to argue with that).
If you’re looking for an overnight with a little more variety, Hilton has launched a partnership with L.A.’s most famous Eduardian castle. Now more than 40 L.A. and Orange County Hilton locations can get you a seat to watch the magic happen—you just need to book your hotel reservation a minimum of six weeks ahead, and once you’ve confirmed your stay, simply book your dinner or brunch seat for the show of your choosing, via Hilton concierge. You'll receive an invitation card at check-in, and you'll need to bring that to the Castle for entry. Speaking of entry, you’ll still need to pay the Castle entry fees and pay for your meal there, but hey—you’ll also receive two complimentary breakfasts from the hotel, and it’s hard to argue with that.
You can apply for an associate membership into the Academy of Magical Arts, no magic training required. When applying, it helps to know someone who’s already a member, otherwise, you may be on the wait list for a bit (don’t worry, it’s only about two or three months’ worth of waiting, which could be much worse, considering the program’s popularity). If accepted, you can visit whenever you’d like, with no door charge or dining minimum. You can also keep your eyes peeled for trial membership offers, which can grant limited-run perks at a fraction of the annual cost. Alternatively, if you’ve already mastered sleight of hand, then consider applying and auditioning for a magician membership, whether your’re local or global; you can read up on the qualifications and perks here.