Warner Bros Studio Tour

18:00 Alyson Tart 0 Comments

I grew up on Harry Potter. With a mother who was a elementary school librarian and younger siblings, Harry Potter was woven into my childhood.  It was the soundtrack to family car rides to Colorado as we passed so many hours in the car. I was the one at midnight showings (or at least one) and pre-ordering the books so I didn't have to wait a day to dive into the story. When the books finished, I was already in college, but I still spent almost 36 hours straight curled up in the hammock on the front porch of my house at school, seeing how the wizarding world of Harry Potter came to a close.

Yet, despite my love of Harry Potter, I had not yet ventured over to see where the magic happened - literally.

Just outside of London, near Watford Junction, lies a studio where they created the Harry Potter we know and love. After the films were finished, they turned this into a place for people to come back and learn about the films, or in my case reminisce.

In order to go, you have to book online in advance (and most times WAY in advance) and pick a time for your tour. After being herded into a little room to start, you get to watch a film about the films and then onto the good stuff.  The first stop - the famous Great Hall. It is nearly all a true set, with the exception of the roof which opens up to beams and exposed lights. Here they have some costumes from each of the houses and wax figures from all the teachers (Madame Toussaud's anyone?).

From here, you're on your own to explore the rest of the studio, which is broken out into 3 parts.

First up - the sets. You can see Dumbledore's office, the potions class, Leaky Cauldron and the dormitory. Some of them are so incredibly detailed - in Dumbledore's office, it's complete with pictures and all kinds of magical trinkets. You don't picture yourself in a movie set, but rather someone's personal space filled with their trinkets.

Not only do you see the sets themselves, but get the skinny behind their creation. Like some of the buildings in the Ministry of Magic scene were filled with props made from cardboard as the sets wouldn't hold the weight of real desks & file cabinets.

Next up is the outdoor portion - here you can see 3 Privet Drive and the Knight Bus among other things. Plus, the biggest draw - butter beer! Despite the cold, we made a stop here to have a "pint" - it was a bit like cream soda with butterscotch cream/icing on top. One glass is enough to completely satisfy your sweet tooth for the remainder of the tour.

The tour wraps up with info on the costumes and CGI. Even some of the fictional characters, like the basilisk were party done through props, then later filled in with CGI. This area also has the model of Hogwarts which was used for aerial shots of the building in many of the films. It was incredible - so detailed from the bridges to trees and hills around it.

Finally, 2 and a half hours later, we found ourselves in the gift shop where we could fill up on chocolate frogs, Bertie Botts, wands and robes. We perused but ended up leaving empty handed this time. A short bus ride later, we were on the train and back towards St Pancras and platform 9 3/4. 

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