Harry Potter Studio tour review

Mar 2, 2015 by

Harry Potter Studio tour review

Warner Brothers Studio Tour Review

The Animal Actors special event

The Warner Brothers studio tour has amazed me on both visits. The first time, being a Harry Potter fan, I was blown away with the awesomeness that is the wonderful wizarding world. On your first visit there’s so much to take in, that your brain just can’t absorb it all. But on the second visit, we were able to take in so much more.

Our first visit was a normal week day, with no special event taking place. It was actually a sad time as Richard Griffiths who played Uncle Vernon had died that week and there was a respectful tribute to him within the tour. It brought home the reality of the film somehow, we all felt the sadness and it was touching to have been invited in to share the loss of such a great actor.

hedwigThis second visit was during half term had the Animal Actors special event running which was very much a treat I’m delighted to have experienced. We met the real, yes the real Hedwig, outside No.4 Privet Drive. My goodness how special was that?! Incredible I can tell you. There were also descendants of Hagrid’s dog Fang – remember the filming began 15 years ago, poor old fang himself would be getting on a little now…

There was also Ron’s rat, Scabbers and rumour had it that Hermione’s cat Crookshanks was there but we were so busy with everything else that we must have missed her.

During these special events that run you get more than normal amount of Potter geeks, the people working here really know their stuff and love the chance to talk to you about it, so ask them lots of questions!

I so desperately want to tell you step by step about what to expect but I’m not going to give too much away because if you’ve not been then you need to be surprised. So, I’ll show you some photos of what not to miss along with my top tips for making the most of you day there.

Harry Potter studio tour top tips

If you’re thinking of going, you need to know that you must book in advance, the chances are it’s booked up for some weeks so plan a couple of months ahead if you can. The earlier in the day you can book your timeslot the better, they only allow so many people in at a time; this is because there’s an initial holding room – or the warm up room where you’re given an insight into the background before being ushered into a screening room where Harry, Ron and Hermione inject you with some more excitement. When the screen goes up and reveals the huge doors to the great hall, you may feel goosebumps!

godrics-hollowWalking through the entrance into the perfectly set Great Hall is simply marvellous. Make sure you really look carefully at everything, and listen to the tour guide bringing your attention to certain areas, you’ll soon see why the films were such a fantastic success; the attention to detail is outstanding.

From here on, you explore the tour as you wish, the official estimation is 3 hours to complete the tour which, not including time in the gift shop, was about right for us. But I have friends who say they can easily spend 5 hours in there.

You can buy the audio guide to talk you through it, a must for die-hard HP fans, we did this the first time but not the second. At the entrance, you should be given a passport for the each child in your group, the kids love this – collecting stamps at various points around the tour. It makes it more fun, and provides a lovely keepsake memento too.

Ford-AngliaThe tour is basically two huge studios, the first one contains the recognisable sets, costumes and props displays. There will be loads here that you’ll instantly recognise, and lots more that you’ll say oh wow that’s how they did it. We said that a lot.

Towards the end of this area, you reach the interactive part where you can try your hand at spell school, the kids love this and if you’re anything like me, it’s a great opportunity to take some shots for facebook *insert winking face*. Not a huge queue for this either.

There’s also the green screen area that shows you how they filmed Quidditch and the many flying broomstick scenes and you can try it out for yourself. It’s popular so be prepared for a queue.

There’s some loo’s in this area #essential fact. You’re welcome.

Harry-Potter-studio-Tour-20

After leaving the sets in the first studio, you’ll be lead outside to the backlot. Here is where the outdoor sets are preserved; The Dursley’s house in Privet Drive, Harry’s parent’s house in Godric’s Hollow. There is also the bridge at Hogwarts where Harry spoke to Professor Lupin in The Prizoner of Azkaban, the famous flying Ford Anglia from The Chamber of Secrets, the triple decker night bus and Hagrid’s motorbike. All brilliant for photo opportunities.

You can also get lunch here, or try Butterbeer, which you really should do at least once. If you opt for the take home souvenir mug, ask them to swill it out for you – it’s mighty sticky after a while in your bag! There’s a picnic area here too so you’re welcome to take your own, if you don’t want to buy.

The second part of the tour focuses more on the behind the scenes. It’s lots of animatronics and model making. You’ll see Aragog the giant spider, Hagrid’s half brother Grawp, Buckbeak the Hippogriff and more. You can watch a series of big screen videos presented by Warwick Davis here, they are funny and entertaining and I recommend you have a watch. There’s also a really wonderful picture gallery here that’s lovely to walk through. You’ll also get to walk up Diagon Alley… *squeal!!*

 

hogwarts-pano

The final awesomeness is at the end where you walk into the huge room that holds the scaled down version of Hogwarts Castle, it really is breath taking. You can walk all around the outside, take lots of photos – I recommend using your pano setting on an iphone if you have one to fit it all in. The lighting changes from day to night-time so you see how the castle looks, all lit up at night fall.

I saw people walking past these, but there are some interactive touchscreens which will show you more about how it was created. It’s worth taking the time to explore this.

wand-shop

Leading you from the castle to the gift shop is the wand room, this is a marvellous idea of a way to record everyone who’s worked on the films. Every actor and behind the scenes person has their name on a wand box, you can spend hours finding those you know, or be like my son, and find one with your own name on it (photoshop *may* have been used in the production of this image). It ends the tour really well.

The gift shop is a treasure trove; you can get a wand, robes, jumpers, pillows, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, chocolate frogs, basically if it was in the film you can get it here. I’d suggest setting a budget for your kids though, all items are high quality and you could spend a fortune in here.

We do have a wand in our house; Dumbledore’s Elder wand if you’re interested to know which!

As a business owner, I was inspired by the Studio Tour so if you run a business too, here’s some ideas about how Harry Potter could help your business. (no wand required).

final-word

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