As mum to two solid Harry Potter fans (who am I kidding; I’m also pretty keen on being a Ravenclaw!) you can imagine our delight when we heard about a HP themed cafe opening up just a short drive away…practically on our doorstep!
Mandrakes: A Magical Experience officially opened in August and is based in Ormskirk, right in the town centre. We have been desperate to go for a while now but whenever we’ve passed there have been long queues and so we decided to wait (semi-calmly) until the initial buzz died down.
We turned up at 10am on a drizzly Friday morning, bang on opening time, to try and ensure we got a table and beat the queues. We were greeted by a very jolly member of staff who informed us that there was a table available for our party of six (two adults, three children aged 2-10 and a baby). Although it seems to be a fairly new feature, it does appear that booking is preferred and we saw a number of people being turned away or told that the current waiting time was 60-90 minutes.
I didn’t know what to expect but I was quite surprised by how small the cafe seating area was. I counted perhaps six or seven tables, some seating just two people. With such limited seating available, its no wonder that such a popular venue has long waiting times. However, and for me this is an important however…I think this is also what makes it so nice. There is an intimate feeling to the experience and there aren’t crowds of people all competing to take selfies. To get the most out of your visit you would be better booking rather than turning up but I think overall this is a good move and a wise decision from the owners.
Mandrakes offers a fantastic experience for any magical fan, with interactive elements, an official merchandise shop and plenty of delicious treats. It’s worth knowing that the food and drink in the cafe is all quite reasonably priced too; which made this mama happy. I went expecting to pay a small fortune but we had two loaded ice creams, a pot of tea for me and two drinks for the kids for under £10.
Staff were incredibly friendly and encouraged Meg and Eli to interact with the decor and props dotted around which was great fun. There’s a potions classroom at the back with robes to try on and lots of other authentic touches, and the cafe’s even has its very own magical Express train.
And of course, Mandrakes feature heavily with the opportunity to have a go at donning ear muffs and re-potting a Mandrake for yourself. It made me smile how willing the kids were to re-enact this very famous scene from HP…definitely not raising two wallflowers!
Despite the busyness, we never felt like we were under pressure to finish up and leave and our server was very attentive. As I mentioned, staff were friendly and engaged with the kids and they were very accommodating, even changing Eli’s ice cream order when he changed his mind and decided he did actually want it ‘loaded’ rather than plain.
Since its opening, Mandrakes has held a number of special themed evenings, and it can be hired as a venue for parties (children and adult!) with a couple of different party packages available. Prices for kids parties start from £250.
If you are hoping to drop in, its worth noting the opening times. For example, on a Saturday it is over 18s only after 6pm.
I think if you are local to Liverpool or the North West then this is a lovely way to spend an hour or so. There isn’t tons to do but there are a good number of photo opportunities, not to mention the quality food and drink. I can only speak to the cup of tea I had but both Meg and Eli seemed more than satisfied with their loaded ice creams (whilst I pretended I wasn’t watching my kids devour a mini bucket of sugar at 10.30am!) We are, in fact, planning to book a table for breakfast for the four of us in the near future so I will certainly report back!