The Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour is an absolutely fantastic family day out. I cannot recommend it highly enough! We visited back in September, as a treat for my 8 year old’s birthday and I can honestly say that it is one of the best family days out we have ever had.
About the Harry Potter Studio Tour
The Warner Bros. Studios Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter (to give it its official title) celebrates the most successful movie series ever, in intricate detail. It is a permanent exhibition, located in Leavesdon, near Watford. The attraction opened in 2012 and is home to many of the props, costumes and iconic sets of the movies.
To write just one post about the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour would be a difficult feat as I have so much to say about this amazing place. I have decided, therefore, to focus on the highlights for us in this post, to give you a taster of what to expect. Look out for my next post, “Top Tips for Visiting the Harry Potter Studios” for our top tips to help you when you visit.
Our Highlights at the Harry Potter Studios
The Great Hall
This is the first main set that you experience on the tour and it is certainly impressive. As we were there for my son’s birthday, he was allowed to help open the huge doors which made the experience even more exciting! There are two large dining tables for students, set for dinner; the teachers table; various original costumes; and more. The one thing that is missing is the floating candles hovering below the ceiling…but that really would be magic!
The Interior Sets
After the Great Hall you wander through an absolutely huge studio space which is filled to the brim, with so much to see and experience. Here you can look at lots of different costumes and props; read about the making of the movies; see the Griffindor Dormitory, Dumbledore’s Study, Hagrid’s Hut, the Potions Classroom and much, much more! The attention to detail is absolutely spectacular and you seriously could spend hours taking everything in.
You can also ride on a broomstick (thanks to the wonders of green screen technology), see various magical occurrences taking place in the kitchen at The Burrow and learn how to defend yourself against the Dark Arts in a guided interactive experience.
The Forbidden Forest
If you dare to walk through the Hogwarts Castle gates and wander through the spooky Forbidden Forest, made up of 19 12-foot wide trees, you will meet a lifesize animatronic Buckbeak, and come face to face with a huge Aragog, coming out of his lair. You can also control the weather and change day to night…as if by magic!
Platform 9 3/4
This was fabulous and you really do feel as if you have been transported into one of the movies. Most of the Platform 9 3/4 scenes in the films were shot on location at King’s Cross Station but for “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2”, part of the platform, complete with track and train, was recreated at the Leavesdon studios.
Here, you can board the Hogwarts Express and take a look into the different compartments, which are all dressed as they would be for each of the different movies: like a timeline, getting bleaker and darker as you progress! You can also practice your best “running at the wall with a trolley” pose, which is a great photo opportunity. There is also another fun green screen experience here too…but I won’t give too much away!
At this point of the tour you can stop for refreshments at the Backlot Cafe, which is where you can sample Butterbeer, if you so desire! We didn’t partake, as there was a large queue, but from speaking to other people it seems like a bit of a Marmite experience: some people love it, and some people hate it! Apparently it tastes like cream soda mixed with shortbread with a thick whipped butterscotch topping and is very sweet.
We absolutely loved the Backlot outdoor area. It was dark by the time we got to this point of the tour which made it even more atmospheric. Here we saw the Knight Bus (another great photo opportunity), went inside Number 4 Privet Drive, walked across the Hogwarts’ Bridge, stood outside the Potters’ house in Godric’s Hollow, sat on Hagrid’s motorbike and pretended to drive the Weasley’s Ford Anglia. Brilliant!
Here you get to meet the creatures, such as the Basilisk, Dobby and the goblins. There is a lot about the technology and design of how they were brought to life, with fascinating models and drawings on display.
Oh my goodness, this newest addition to the studio tour is absolutely breathtaking. I cannot describe just how spectacular the Banking Hall is, with its sparkling crystal chandeliers, huge marble pillars and lifelike goblin bankers peering over at you from their high desks. Amazing! After the Banking Hall you walk past Vault 713, through the Lestrange Vault (with some fab photo opportunities) and then into a digital experience like no other: A set of Gringotts being destroyed; with a huge, cleverly disguised video screen, fabulous sound, lights and smoke effects and a huge digital, but very lifelike, Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon projection. It really is a brilliant experience.
Walking through Diagon Alley is very surreal. It was smaller than I expected but staggeringly detailed. It’s great to wander past the various shopfronts, my favourite of which was Fred and George’s joke shop, “Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes,” otherwise known as “Weasley & Weasley.”
1:24 Scale Model of Hogwarts
Another breathtaking part of the tour is the amazing intricately designed model of Hogwarts. It was built for the first movie and was used, along with digital effects, to create the exterior views of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The scale and detail is absolutely spectacular and brought a tear to my eye. A wonderful ending to a truly magical experience!
These are the highlights of our tour, but with so much to take in and see it would take me months to write about everything! If you are planning a trip to the Warner Brothers’ Harry Potter Studio Tour pop back for my next post on “Top Tips for Visiting the Harry Potter Studios Tour” as well!
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