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Warner Bros Studio Tour

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Harry Potter Studio Tour

Published by Anonymous . — 7 years ago

Ever since it opened I have been pestering my parents to take me to the Harry Potter Studio Tour near London, we were planning on going in the summer around the time of my birthday, but that never happened. So you can imagine my delight when my dad popped up on Skype towards the end of term to announce that when I came home for Christmas not only had he booked time off work to see me he had also booked tickets for us both to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, ecstatic does not even begin to cover how I felt.

To top it off the whole tour was to be decked out as it was for the Christmas scenes in the film. It would just be me and dad going as my mum hates Harry Potter and my brother was at school and much to my surprise he didn’t accept dads offer to let him skip school to come with us.

Harry Potter Studio Tour

We had booked on to the 2. 30pm tour, the website recommended that we allowed 3 hours for the tour. With that in mind we set off nice and early so that we could have lunch at the studios before our time slot. Dad drove us down, but the internet reliably informs me that it is easy to get to by public transport, we saw several buses there decked out in Harry Potter posters which had been shuttling people from the nearby train stations. Car parking was free and there were plenty of attendants around to usher us into a spot according to our timeslot.

The entrance to the studios was flanked by giant statues of the chess pieces from the first film for us to examine whilst we queued to collect our tickets from the offices. Once we had picked up our tickets (decorated with pictures of various Harry Potter characters, I had Dobby, my dad had Nagini) we headed into the building past the hand prints of Harry, Ron and Hermione. As it was lunch time we headed for the large café in the studios for a bite to eat, there was a decent range of food available as well as a Starbucks. Once we had placed our orders we were given a beeper that would let us know when our food was ready so we sat down at a spare table and waited only around 5 minutes before the bleeper went off. The food was really nice and once we had finished a waitress quickly came round to clear away our plates.

Next, we decided to have a browse in the gift shop. We walked through the main hall which was decorated with many massive pictures of the main characters from the films, there was also a giant Christmas tree in the centre of the hall. Suspended from the ceiling were decorations from the astronomy tower as well as a Ford Anglia from the second film.

The gift shop was massive and full of everything you could possibly imagine ranging from sweets to replica robes and brooms costing hundreds of pounds. We spent at least an hour in there browsing and trying on robes for laughs, dad tried to guess which wand belonged to which character and was promptly corrected by a small boy who was obviously a much bigger Harry Potter fan than my dad.

Be sure to bring some money as there is bound to be something in there that you want to buy, it is hard not to want it all! There was so much variety, they really had thought of everything, we decided not to make any purchases before the tour as we didn’t want to carry them around and then purchase more on the way out. We picked up our interactive guides from the counter in the main foyer, we had pre-ordered them as the tour was to be mainly self-guided. These were definitely worth the investment, they were filled with a wealth of useful information and videos that I had never seen before.

Despite it being half an hour before our allotted time we headed to the queue and the guy running it said that we could join the queue now if we wanted to. So we joined the queue which wound past the cupboard under the stairs and some large posters with Harry Potter facts. Every ten minutes one hundred people were led through some double doors and after what seemed like forever, but was really just 20 minutes, it was our turn.

First we were led into a large room lined either side with screens, we were encouraged to spread out so we could see the screens on either side of the room, a cheerful staff member gave us a brief welcome before we were shown a video of the development of the Harry Potter series from conception to phenomenon. Afterwards we were led through to a large cinema room where once we were all seated there was a short video to get us all pepped up for the tour, after this finished the screen was raised to reveal the doors to the great hall and we were all encouraged to gather round. Another very friendly and enthusiastic member of staff came to welcome us all again, he encouraged anyone celebrating their birthday to come forwards and open the doors to the great hall. It was like stepping into the film, with the exception of the ceiling which is put in after filming. The cheery staff member then gave us an introduction to the great hall which was dressed for Christmas and lined with the costumes of cast members from over the years. He also told us that all the staff members were either extras in the Harry Potter films or huge Harry Potter fans, which made sense seeing as every single one of them was so happy all of the time.

My dad and I explored the great hall but were ushered out after ten minutes so that the next set of people could get the same effect from the big reveal that we did, but once everyone was in the hall we could return. We headed out into the first studio area and our interactive tour began, lots of people raced through the studios but we took our time and there was so much to discover, it was really interesting. The sets looked just as good in the films, the detail was incredible dad and I messed about and took some silly photos and dad attempted to make comments on some of the pieces, sometimes with comical results. There was so much crammed into the one studio:

  • the Hogwarts Gates,
  • the Boys Dormitory,
  • Dumbledores’ Office,
  • Potions Classroom,
  • Hagrid’s Hut,
  • The Ministry of Magic,
  • Umbridges’ office
  • a massive green screen with brooms and Hagrid’s motorbike

among other things.

There was the opportunity to have your own green screen experience on a broom, which was really fun to do, but perhaps not worth the £10 they were charging for a copy of the photo. After we had managed to spend 2 hours in this first studio we headed outside to the back lot where some of the outdoor set pieces were stored. There was also a food concession, which is one of only two places in the world to sell butterbeer. I can honestly say that it is not a tragedy that there are only 2 places in the world that sell butterbeer, it wasn’t my thing very very sweet, almost like doctor pepper with some melted sweetened marshmallow on top, but you have to try it.

In the back lot you could also find the Knight bus, Hagrids motorbike and sidecar, the Ford Anglia all of which you could get into and explore. There was also a small section of Privet Drive, the Potters house from Godricks Hollow and the Hogwarts Bridge, after exploring all of these it started to rain so we headed into the next studio.

The second studio was dubbed ‘The Creature Shop’ and it contained masses of sketches, prosthetics, models and photos of the finished products in the movies. In addition to our interactive guide there was a large projection of Warwick Davis in each room who gave a brief kind of tour. It was really interesting to see how some of the animals were brought to life, as well as Hagrid, who’s head is actually animatronic. The commentary from Warwick was really witty and informative, and was really useful for those who didn’t have the interactive guides. Once we stepped out of the creature shop we stepped into Diagon Alley, which was really astounding, it was exactly as it is in the films and it was really interesting walking around looking into all of the shop windows which had been so intricately dressed.

Following on from Diagon Alley was a section that showed all of the planning and preparation that went into each scene, set piece, costume and creature. The technical drawings and concept were amazing and there were to scale paper models of all the major buildings such as the Burrow and Hogwarts. Lots of people seemed to rush through this part of the tour really quickly but I think it was just as interesting as the rest, especially the TV screens that showed the development from first sketch, to concept art through to what it finally looked like in the films.

The cherry on top of the cake was the scale model of Hogwarts that was housed in the final room, despite being a miniature it was huge and the detail was incredible. The lighting changed periodically to mimic night and day and there were some really touching videos on the interactive guide from the final days of filming at the studios. We headed through a room lined with wand boxes, each bearing the name of someone involved in the films and through into the gift shop again.

On our way out we picked up some fizzing whizbee’s for my brother, a program from the tour and a T-Shirt for me, I was tempted to get a robe, although the £75 price tag put me off. However this hasn’t stopped me buying one cheaply off eBay for use as a dressing gown. We were given some bookmarks at the tills as a token gift and we headed off to the car.

Some people may not have this visit as top of their list, but for any Harry Potter fan it is a must see, and it is a big thing for Britain, having such a global phenomenon created here in England. Remember to take your cameras fully charged, you can take as many photos as you like and we took hundreds! There was also free WiFi throughout the studios, so be sure to check yourself in on Facebook at Dumbledores Office and the Great Hall.

It was a really fun and educational day out, I will be able to watch the films in the same way again.

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