I love Harry Potter. There, I said it. So when my sister and nephews were visiting from Canada and asked me to book tickets to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour, I was delighted! I’m not one of those Gryffindor scarf-wearing type of fans but I did blub my eyes out on the train to work when a certain character died (who I shall not name in case you’ve yet to read the books) and was not even slightly embarrassed about it.
I’ll admit I’ve only seen the first two films because, quite frankly, they were not as good as the books (are screen adaptations ever?). However I was eager to see Hogwarts, which I had built up in my imagination, come to life. And it did not disappoint!
After two Overground trains and a shuttle bus from Watford Junction, we arrived at the studio in Leavesden where the films were shot over ten years. A massive queue then greeted us but after a 20 minute wait or so, we were ushered in to a room where we were greeted by Harry, Ron and Hermione (on screen of course) as well as a man dressed in wizard robes who explained how the tour worked. It takes about 3 to 3 and a half hours to experience the full tour, depending on how long you want to inspect each set or hunt for golden snitches.
I won’t go into detail about the tour as I’d hate to ruin the surprise but expect to be transported into the magical world of Harry Potter.
Dumbledore is one of my favourite characters and his office is packed full of interesting things – although I didn’t hear any funny little noises.
“One thing was certain: of all the teachers’ offices Harry had visited so far this year, Dumbledore’s was by far the most interesting. If he hadn’t been scared out of his wits that he was about to be thrown out of the school, he would have been very pleased to have a chance to look around it. It was a large and beautiful circular room, full of funny little noises. A number of curious silver instruments stood on spindle-legged tables, whirring and emitting little puffs of smoke.” – an extract from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
The attention to detail is just astonishing. If you’re thinking about a career in film, theatrical hair and make-up, costumery or set design then book a ticket for inspiration and affirmation.
One of my favourite parts of the tour is the recreation of London’s Kings Cross and Platform 9¾, where the Hogwarts Express leaves at precisely 11am on 1 September. You can even go on the train, which is a proper steam train – it’s all very exciting!
Luckily I managed to get my luggage through in time! Otherwise it would’ve been the flying car for me…
A friend warned me that you’d have to take out a second mortage to buy anything in the shop and she wasn’t wrong. I treated my nephew to a Butterbeer in a souvenir tankard, which was £7. And yes, it was horrible! My nephew LOVED it though.
Although there are no rides, there are lots of fun and interactive things to do such as practising your wand skills and flying on a quidditch broom. And if you’re going with kids, they get an activity passport to keep them busy.
At the end of the tour you will see something so amazing it will leave you speechless. Or, if you’re like my friend Alex, you will cry (she’s been three times on the tour and she’s cried each time). I have lots of pictures but I would hate to ruin it for you so you’ll just have to book a ticket and see it for yourself.