Apart from Voldemort, who doesn't love Harry Potter? First the books from JK Rowling, and then the fantastic movies, have left a mark on a generation of both children and adults. Set around Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, the stories at first appear to have been written for children. Yet the later books and movies appear to be much more adult with darker themes. Nevertheless, beneath these tales of Harry and his friends Ron and Hermione, there lies the foundation of magic spells and witchcraft.

So, in many ways, it is not surprising that Harry Potter should be such a popular theme when it comes to developing escape room ideas. Of course, the look and feel of Hogwarts is that of a dark and almost mediaeval building. With its gothic style classrooms that lend themselves perfectly to the escape room genre of a cramped, semi-dark space. With so many brick and mortar escape rooms embracing Harry Potter, we decided to have a stroll across the globe to find the best escape rooms with this theme. We should point out that many of these rooms actually don't possess a licence from the copyright holder. In these cases, though you and I know from the escape room game’s title and description that the game is based around the novels, by using clever wordplay and naming, they are still able to operate.

Department of Magic
Location: Edinburgh, Scotland (Department of Magic)

This escape room location features nothing but rooms themed around magic. All in all, there are three rooms called Prophecies Quest, Dark Lord Resurrection, and Magic Potions Tavern. If you're a Harry Potter fan then you'll have a great time here as each room has a great theme and story to go with it. We've been told the rooms are pretty immersive, though the website doesn't list how difficult each room is. Even if you go in blind, we think you'll have a great time. But we get the feeling these rooms are catering mainly for families.

Harry Potter Escape
Location: Saint James, NY, USA (Escape Zone Long Island)

Here we have a real-life licensed Harry Potter escape room. Game play centres around Azkaban Prison, and the players need to escape and return to Hogwarts. There are a number of Horcruxes hidden around the room and you have one hour to find these. Oh... and also defeat Lord Voldemort! Looking at the Trustpilot reviews, we can see that the room isn't so difficult and again, is mainly family focused.

School of Witchcraft and Wizardry
Location: London, England

It’s a game, where by solving the puzzles and clues, you will be able to graduate from the School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. After completing the game you will become either a witch or wizard. According to the reviews, it's a fun-filled escape room and has plenty of interesting and enticing challenges. Although the website doesn't list the difficulty level of the puzzles and clues, we could find online reviews which cited the game as being challenging, but very rewarding. To that end we feel this is probably a middle rating game and best suited for groups without children.

The Wizard’s Keep
Location: Buffalo, NY, USA (Trapped Games)

Back across the Atlantic to the Americas and you'll find yourself on your first day at the School of wizardry. In order to remain at the school you'll need to solve any number of challenges and puzzles to prove your worthiness. The Wizard’s Keep website states that there is a 55% success rate of completing the room. Though at the same time they list the difficulty level as medium. We suspect it is still going to be a great challenge, and you'll need to be well organised in order to complete this.

A Very Potter Escape Room
Location: St. Paul, MN, USA (Trapped Puzzle Rooms)

The backstory to this game is slightly more interesting than most of the Wizard and Harry Potter related escape rooms. Essentially, a new regime has come in and taken over the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Apparently things are going downhill very quickly. Your job is to save the school. And the only way you can do that is to find the Elder Wand which is in the headmaster’s office. You have 60 minutes to do so and should you fail then the school will fall into the hands of evil forever. Unfortunately the website doesn't list the difficulty level.

The School of Magic
Location: Novi, MI, USA (Escape Room Novi)

On your first day in the School of Magic you'll discover that someone has used a terrible spell and placed it on both the students and the teachers. Your group are the only people unaffected and you'll need to solve this problem quickly. On the website they list the room as easy and child friendly. You might want to skip this if you're a veteran player as the clues and puzzles may be too easy and therefore it may prove unsatisfactory. For families it's a great way to spend an hour.

The Wizard’s Secret
Location: Conshohocken, PA (Project Escape)

Unfortunately you've been tricked by an evil wizard to take his place in a prison. No ordinary prison is this. It's the Witch and Wizard Prison from which you'll need all your wits about you in order to escape within the time limit. The room is rated as 7 out of 10 on the difficulty scale. It sounds moderately difficult and is probably best suited for adults.

Harry Potter and the Locked Chamber
Location: Riga, Latvia

If you're in Central Europe then you can even find a Harry Potter themed Escape room here. Harry has been locked in a secret chamber within Hogwarts by those who wish him ill. By reading with the signs, solving a list of tasks, and guessing clues and codes, you will be able to help him escape. Once again this is a game that is playable for all ages.

Privet Drive
Location: Oshawa, Ontario, Canada

In this game you're not actually a witch or wizard. The premise is that you're trying to get into a building in order to help a young wizard to escape. Once he does, he will go on to become the world's greatest wizard. Again that's a different premise based on wizards and wizardry, no there's nothing here from Harry Potter itself. Out of all the rooms listed here, this is considered the most difficult. sSo you can expect a challenging and an immersive time.

University of Magic: The Entrance Exam
Location: Manchester, England

The purpose of this game is to actually get into the University of Magic. It's not easy and if you want to have a place to study you will need to prove yourself in a series of tests. With these you'll need to mix magic potions, battle with dark forces, recite incantations, and, of course, cast spells. We couldn’t find any information on the difficulty levels involved with this game.

Even though the Harry Potter books and films gradually morphed into more and more adult content, on the whole, the Harry Potter themed escape room games tend to be aimed at the whole family. If you're an adult and looking for the darker aspects found in the later movies, you will not find them in many real life games. In some ways, we feel that many of these escape room games have missed a great opportunity by simply dumbing down everything for total family consumption. 

One other factor that we found irritating, was the fact that very few websites state the difficulty level. This is an essential piece of information to know before you spend your money and book an hour. This is because there's nothing quite as disappointing as discovering that the game is far too easy. By breezing through it in half the allotted time, in the end, there is no feeling of satisfaction or triumph.