The most exclusive club in the magic world sits on a hill in Hollywood, California, just behind the glittering lights of the Nokia Theater. To see beyond the moody, Victorian facade, you'll need to speak the magic words to a statue on a bookshelf -- but to get that far, you'll need a ticket, one of the hottest and most elusive in town. Snagging a ticket allows you to enter through the door and into the magic beyond, but if you don't have a friend who's a member, you'll have to try a few tricks of your own to make one appear.
The Tricky Part
Become a member. Founded in 1908 by Milt Larsen and Bill Larsen Jr., the Academy of Magical Arts remains in the same Victorian mansion in which it was formed; since then, thousands of magic practitioners and aficionados have become card-carrying members of the club. Membership allows entrance, along with a handful of guest passes.
Spring for a short-term membership. The "Open Sesame" membership option, which you can get if you're over the age of 21, is valid for one month from the start date and includes Sunday and weekday club access for the trial member and one guest. The cost of this trial membership is $250 as of 2014.
Reach out to a performer. Very occasionally, a smaller-time performer will offer guest passes to those who ask politely. It doesn't hurt to look at the Castle schedule and reach out to the magicians scheduled to perform on the weeknight you'd like to visit.
Preparing for Your Visit
Check the schedule and make a reservation -- required -- as soon as you have your ticket. Performances are booked at the Castle every day of the week, often with the world's most famous and sought-after performers. The Magic Castle hosts five different magic shows in three showrooms: one for big-stage magic, one for smaller-scale illusions and a final room for magic that takes place within inches of the audience. Dining is a must upon every visit, so choose your favorite nibbles: Friday lunch, Sunday brunch or a posh dinner.
Follow the dress code -- exactly. Gentlemen must wear a coat and tie, and ladies must be attired in elegant cocktail wear. Military dress blues are also allowed. If you arrive in clothing deemed inappropriate to the code, you'll be turned away without refund, whether you're a visitor or a full-fledged member.
Bring your ticket and ID. Guests to almost all performances must be 21 or over with confirming photo identification. Guests must also present the guest pass to the door person to gain admittance.
Magician memberships, issued upon passage of a "magic test" to those actively practicing as a hobby or profession, include access to the academy's extensive library and expert lectures. Associate memberships, offered to non-magicians, do not require a graded demonstration of magical skill.
The Magic Castle is an exclusive, private, members-only club. No one is allowed in without the ticketed invitation of a current member in good standing. There are absolutely no exceptions to this rule, ever.