Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour (London)

My brother has always been HUGE Harry Potter fan, so when he came to visit the UK in June, of course we had to pay a visit to the Harry Potter Warner Brother’s Studio Tour. Located in Watford, it took roughly an hour’s drive to get there (Thanks cousin S for the ride!), though there are tour buses available from central London.

001
Be sure to pre-order your tickets online as there are no ticket booths inside!

01 02 03

04

06
Fun fact: My hands match Daniel Radcliffe’s perfectly.

05

07

 Guests enter in separate groups around twenty minutes in between. You’re then invited to watch a short film presented by none other than Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint themselves. There’s a tiny surprise at the end that I won’t spoil here, but after a polite warning not to touch or sniff (really) any of the costumes, we finally entered the set of the Great Hall.

08 10

09 11 112 (2) 113 115 (2) 119 wpid-img-20150705-wa0174 wpid-img-20150705-wa0176

wpid-img-20150705-wa0179  120

 Various costumes used in the films are displayed throughout the studios. Although I wouldn’t call myself a big fan, it was still interesting to match the clothing to the characters and their actors. Do you recognise any of them?

125 wpid-img-20150705-wa0111 wpid-img-20150705-wa0112 wpid-img-20150705-wa0118 wpid-img-20150705-wa0129 wpid-img-20150705-wa0147 wpid-img-20150705-wa0149 wpid-img-20150705-wa0151  wpid-img-20150705-wa0167 wpid-img-20150705-wa0169

wpid-img-20150705-wa0173 wpid-img-20150705-wa0154

Whilst the costumes are impressive enough, it’s only when I saw the sheer amount of props displayed that it dawned just how much effort was put into the films. Whether the prop was a single cup, or a life-size robotic magical creature, they were all lovingly crafted to look incredibly realistic, even with no guarantee it’d even make it on the big screen. Seeing the detail really makes you appreciate the hard work of everyone behind the camera- even the food looked incredibly realistic up close.

094 (2) 100 (2) 127 (2) 132 160 173 wpid-img-20150705-wa0058 wpid-img-20150705-wa0059 wpid-img-20150705-wa0064 167 wpid-img-20150705-wa0117 wpid-img-20150705-wa0120 wpid-img-20150705-wa0137 wpid-img-20150705-wa0141

wpid-img-20150705-wa0157 175 wpid-img-20150705-wa0170   140

The detail also extends into life-size sets of rooms and locations in the movies. There’s a small thrill to be found thinking how many celebrities from the movie franchise have worked on the very sets you can see.

148 (2) 152 (2) 170 176 174   184

 wpid-img-20150705-wa0097 wpid-img-20150705-wa0102   wpid-img-20150705-wa0113 wpid-img-20150705-wa0126

wpid-img-20150705-wa0100 wpid-img-20150705-wa0110wpid-img-20150705-wa0127 wpid-img-20150705-wa0130

wpid-img-20150705-wa0132 wpid-img-20150705-wa0133 wpid-img-20150705-wa0134 wpid-img-20150705-wa0135 wpid-img-20150705-wa0138 wpid-img-20150705-wa0140 wpid-img-20150705-wa0142 wpid-img-20150705-wa0143

wpid-img-20150705-wa0144 wpid-img-20150705-wa0145 wpid-img-20150705-wa0146

wpid-img-20150705-wa0148   wpid-img-20150705-wa0156 wpid-img-20150705-wa0160 wpid-img-20150705-wa0166 

There’s also a “green screen” section that shows how many of the more difficult scenes where shot. Sadly, I can confirm that real magic wasn’t used, but computer wizardry instead. You can opt to film a short clip of yourself inside the flying Ford Focus from the second film, or on a broomstick, but be prepared for ridiculous prices if you want to keep it.

 wpid-img-20150705-wa0061 wpid-img-20150705-wa0122

wpid-img-20150705-wa0063  wpid-img-20150705-wa0123 wpid-img-20150705-wa0124 wpid-img-20150705-wa0125

I didn’t remember to take a photo of the lunch options available, being too hungry. Like most catering options in tourist spots, it’s heavily overpriced for what you get (I think I paid about £25 of meagre portions for four of us). However, the taste is surprisingly good, so it’s not all bad!

You can also buy butterbeer (though, why wouldn’t  you…?). I’ve heard mixed reviews but personally I liked it! It tastes like a cross between cream soda and Iron Bru, with extra foam and vanilla syrup, so perhaps stick with the smaller size…

 wpid-img-20150704-wa0006

wpid-img-20150705-wa0079

I feel like the studio is deliberately set to impress the further as you walk along. The larger set pieces include the Hogwarts train, the Knight Bus, Privet Drive (which looks so much like a typical English house, I wondered for a moment who lived inside the studio), not to mention a whole road that was built as the set for Diagon Alley.

185 189 199 203   245 251 254 255 20150611_155827 wpid-img-20150705-wa0052 wpid-img-20150705-wa0054 wpid-img-20150705-wa0055 wpid-img-20150705-wa0056

wpid-img-20150705-wa0081  wpid-img-20150705-wa0076 wpid-img-20150705-wa0077 wpid-img-20150705-wa0095

227  wpid-img-20150705-wa0082

Personally, my favourite part was the section that showed the architectural planning behind every single set. You can view the actual models that were made as well as original sketches that cover several walls and display units. Most impressively, a room displaying a scaled- down model of the entire Hogwarts castle and grounds which, fittingly, plays an emotional track from the film repeatedly. I say “scaled down”, but it’s still big enough to fill a large room a few floors tall. The model was built to film overhead shots of the castle which were later edited digitally for the final scenes. The amount of detail is stunning, and even if you loathe Harry Potter, you can’t fail to be impressed. It also gives a glimpse into JK Rowling’s expansive imagination to conceive such a detailed and creative universe.

wpid-img-20150705-wa0049  wpid-img-20150705-wa004820150611_160439 20150611_160508 20150611_160553 20150611_160614 20150611_160629 20150611_160547 20150611_160641 20150611_160650 20150611_160703 wpid-img-20150705-wa0050

20150611_160719 20150611_160728 20150611_160833

20150611_161920

wpid-img-20150705-wa0028

wpid-img-20150705-wa0029

Of course, we couldn’t leave without browsing the merchandise. Filled with souvenir t-shirts, sweets, cups, books, wands and more, there has to be something inside that catches your eye (or multiple expensive items, in my brother’s case). Being official merchandise, everything is high quality, though I did raise my eyebrows at a particularly tacky-looking plastic broomstick. The sweets are branded with a Honeydukes label (a sweet shop featured in the books), so don’t expect any superior taste; your money is mainly going to the packaging. Parents, a word of warning: there are a LOT of sugary items on sale. Best to distract your kids with the plastic wands instead…

wpid-img-20150705-wa0001 wpid-img-20150705-wa0002

wpid-img-20150705-wa0004 wpid-img-20150705-wa0006

wpid-img-20150705-wa0005  wpid-img-20150705-wa0009 wpid-img-20150705-wa0011 wpid-img-20150705-wa0012

wpid-img-20150705-wa0013 wpid-img-20150705-wa0014 wpid-img-20150705-wa0016 wpid-img-20150705-wa0017

wpid-img-20150705-wa0021 wpid-img-20150705-wa0022

wpid-img-20150705-wa0023 wpid-img-20150705-wa0060

The tour is unguided, so you can storm through and be done in thirty minutes or take your time and send the whole day there. It operates on a one-way system so make sure you’re definitely ready to leave before you do.

Even as a vague fan of the franchise, the tour was fascinating, and probably more enjoyable if I didn’t need to ensure my brother wasn’t making a public spectacle of himself. (Sorry, bro.) A must-visit for all fans of the books and films, and if you’re ever in the area, try to save a day to experience the magic for yourself!

 end

 

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s