Harry Potter has been the most cherished memory a lot of us have grown up with. Everyone is aware of the madness of children, teens and even grown ups associated with both it’s books and movies. It’s kind of a religion in itself: Potterheads they call it. Though I never was a Potter head, it was a wonder tour (WB Harry Potter studio) which amused and dazzled me. Even those who don’t consider themselves afflicted with Potter-mania will still appreciate the artistry on display and the astounding work that went into assembling the sets for the saga. It is basically a huge ‘Harry Potter museum’. Here one can come aboard the original Hogwarts Express, walk down the Diagon Alley, see the Great Hall and Dumbledore’s office at Hogwarts.
Warner Bros Harry Potter studio, London is situated in Watford (England) about an hour drive from London. I and my husband opted for a group tour. It made us stick to a preplanned schedule for the visit. No one wants to miss those elated faces of children and adults in the bus to WB Harry Potter studio. We finally reached the studio. From the outside it is just a large warehouse with familiar Harry Potter font above the entrance.
We queued to get inside the truly unique attraction which allows one to experience the magic that has gone into creating one of the most successful film series of all time. Time spent in the entry queue passed very quickly as there was a lot to look around. For instance the flying car from Chamber of Secrets which is suspended from the ceiling. Also the ‘cupboard under the stairs’ where Harry lived at the Dursley’s in Philosopher’s Stone.
When we finally made way through the queue, we were ushered with a cinematic pre-show about the studio and Harry Potter franchise. The excitement in the room was palpable as everyone waited for the doors to the Great Hall to open. The tour began with a quick video featuring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint. They thanked the members of the video staff and vast crew that helped make the movies.
The Great Hall
As the curtains were pulled, the magic of Harry Potter started unveiling itself on everyone standing there curiously waiting to enter the world of Harry Potter. I can say that for everyone present there it was like the best moment of life at that point of time. The Great Hall still looked like it is ready to film another Hogwarts meal, and along the walls are various wardrobe items from the film. Moaning Myrtle’s outfit was representing Ravenclaw, and young Harry Potter’s robes stood behind the Gryffindor plaque. There was something exciting about hearing the buzzing among people of all ages seeing such hugely familiar items they have grown up watching on screen.
As I crossed the dining hall of the Harry Potter studio, I entered into a huge setup which is filled with many different aspect and props of the Harry Potter series. It’s very easy to spend hours moving from one exhibit to the next. It can be a little overwhelming as the props are everywhere, high and low, in various cabinets. The studio also has rooms from films from the Gryffindor dorm, Dumbledore’s office, the Burrow, Snape’s dungeons and its great to see them all.
There are several activities inspired from the Harry Potter films, that people can take part in and live the experience of shooting various scenes in front of the green screen. There was a good queue mostly of children and their parents in this section that included the ride in the Weasley car and the ride on a broomstick. Hence I skipped doing it myself and just had a good time looking at kids sitting on the broom in front of the green screen having the happiest faces I have ever seen.
I had some amazing live experiences in this section which I am sure everyone who has grown up reading and watching Harry Potter would wish to do. This included having a wand training session and watch how the Burrows magical household items work – from moving iron to the chopping board to knitting needles.
Then came the Knight Bus and people around were super excited to click loads of pictures and the trolley as it goes through the wall on platform 9 3/4. The cherry on the mighty cake of Harry Potter studio was the Hogwarts Express.
Moving from this section of Harry Potter studio we entered into the eating area where people were taking a break and eating and yes, there was butterbear in the menu too.
There is an outdoor area in between the two studios. Our visit happened to be on a typical chilly British weather and it was cold and dark. A sunny weather would have been better to take pictures and enjoy this area more. Many people bypass the outdoor area but there is lots to see from Privet Drive, Hogwarts Bridge and Harry Potter’s house in Godric’s Hallow to name a few. Luckily we could visit the house at Privet Drive, it was open when we were there. It was fantastic to see all the letters floating in the room.
Moving forward, we entered into the next studio from the outdoor area i.e. the second part of the tour. The beginning of the second studio has all the creatures and electronic props used in Harry Potter. Lot of those creatures ‘come to life’ and it was great to watch them. A glass cabinet in the middle has lots of fun things to watch. From Lord Voldemort to the Mandrake to the Beast book, the Mermaid head and the talking boar head on the wall.
The tour ended walking into a room that has the full model of Hogwarts which was used for the movie. I got a chance to click few pictures but photos hardly did justice to this jaw dropping model. The lighting was just right in the room and it blended into a perfect ending to the Harry Potter Studio tour. The super excited buzzing of the people at the start of the tour could be seeing turning into whispers and murmers of nostalgia. It was truly a sight to behold to see childhood memories coming to life for many of the grown ups around.
If I took away anything from the studio tour, it was likely the EXEPERIENCE – just how incredible effort went into making these movies. It says a lot about the magic of The Harry Potter movie, that has tug on the heartstrings of probably every age group who has grown up being a Potterhead.
Tips to plan a tour
2) Pre plan your transport as it is far from Central London.
3) It is a full day affair, so if you are coming to London for a vacation keep a whole day for this activity.
4) After you enter the studio there is no eating space or restaurant till half of the tour is done. So better carry water, snacks etc with you. PS there is a cafeteria and Starbucks just before the entrance of the studio.
5) You are going to take lot of pictures, by lot I mean A LOT. So do have a lot of space in your camera and battery in your phone
6) If you wish to go into the details, you can purchase a digital guide before starting the trip.
7) At the end of the tour there is a Studio shop of souvenirs, Allow a budget if you are interested to carry something as a keepsake of the tour.
I hope you enjoyed going through this post . Happy reading !
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