My 10-year-old son is fascinated with magic and has performed his own act at school for four years now. (This year he passed a blade sharp enough to cut a carrot through his lovely assistant's hand.) Given his passion for hocus-pocus, we're always scouring NYC's magic shops for the coolest, new illusions to beef up his bag of tricks. So we were both surprised when he was invited to a birthday party at Fantasma Magic—a shop neither of us had heard of.
Fantasma Magic is the largest magic kit manufacturer in the world, and its midtown Manhattan showroom is a hot spot for illusion and sleight of hand fans of all ages. The store is also home to a small museum devoted to Harry Houdini, and is an awesome birthday party spot. We know where we will be shopping for my son's next magic show!
Fantasma Magic is stocked with the company's own branded magic sets, tricks, props and supplies for magicians of all levels, from kids just starting out to professional conjurers. The store was designed by award-winning architect David Rockwell (who was also behind South Street Seaport's amazing Imagination Playground), and is sleek and cool, with a sparkling floor and a curtained stage. Kids are shown how their chosen trick works with purchase. If you aren't ready to commit to buying, kids can borrow a trick or prop for up to 30 days from the shop's lending library for FREE.
The showroom is where you will find the Houdini Museum of New York, the city's only gallery devoted to the legendary escape artist. The museum is modest in size but robust in its displays, which feature hundreds of artifacts exploring Houdini's life and legacy, including some of his rarest tricks, secret devices, handcuffs, locks and even the coffin that he escaped from in 1907! The escape trunk Houdini used in his famous “Metamorphosis” act is also on view, and there's a 20-minute documentary on the magician that will get kids acquainted with his work. The Houdini Museum of New York is FREE so it's definitely worth the trip for magic lovers.
Fantasma Magic is also a super-special birthday party venue. My 10-year-old son and I were invited to a celebration there this past winter, and it was a blast! I was particularly impressed with the fantastic service, plus all the extras. Each of the four party packages—which range from a better-than-basic magic party to an all-inclusive blowout—feature a professional live magic show. During the performance, the birthday child serves as the magician's official assistant, helping out with crowd-pleasing tricks that include a fluffy rabbit and live birds. The kid even gets to levitate in front of the guests! The party we attended was a mixed-age group, and the magician was able to tailor the show with tricks that entertained all of the children. Check out the party packages on Fantasma Magic's website.
Fantasma Magic is located at 421 Seventh Avenue at 33rd Street on the 3rd floor. It's open Monday through Friday 10am-6pm, and Saturday through Sunday 10am-5pm.
For other fun birthday ideas for NYC Kids, check out our Party Guide.