London and The Making of Harry Potter
So as you may know, I visited London in March – and went to Warner Bros to do their HARRY POTTER STUDIO TOUR!! 🤩
The movies may not live up to the books (movies rarely do) but they are still pretty fantastic movies, and I had heard a lot of good reviews of the tour.
I figured a regular weekend in March wouldn’t be that busy, but from one day to another I saw whole days become sold out on the website. So if anyone else is planning to go I recommend you book well in advance. The tickets can go by surprisingly fast.
The weather was pretty horrible that day, it actually snowed! During the bus ride out to Watford, we could see white rooftops and gardens covered with a thin layer of snow. The day before had been warm and sunny and I had berated myself for only bringing my thick winter coat… I was sure happy to have it now!
The Great Hall
I really loved the way they arranged the “intro” to the tour.
First, everyone gathered in a room with screens on the walls. The tour guide held a little opening speech and joked around a bit before showing a short movie clip on the walls.
Then we were herded into the next room which looked like a small movie theatre. Rows of seats and a large movie screen in one end. A clip started playing where Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint greeted the audience.
Afterwards, the tour guide came forward again and was like “well, better get you lot inside”. And at that point the screen disappeared into the ceiling, revealing the massive doors to the Great Hall behind it! The whole crowd simultaneously gasped, it was awesome. 😱😍
After the Great Hall, there’s a huge hangar-like room full of… everything. There was SO MUCH STUFF everywhere it was difficult to know where to look. 🤪 Lots of costumes, lots of props, and lots of rooms. There was Snape’s potions room, Dumbledore’s office, Hagrid’s Hut etc. All the rooms were beautifully detailed, like you just stepped into the movies.
My favourite things were actually the paintings used for decorating the walls. They are all real oil paintings commissioned by real artists. So many beautiful works of art. I wish they would sell prints of them…
And of course there were lots of people everywhere, but the place was not crowded. The way they only let x number of people in every x hours seems to be working well. You still had to wait for people to move around the most popular exhibitions, but it wasn’t that bad.
In addition to the giant hangar, they have built a mini-version of the Forbidden Forest – complete with fog crawling over the floor and robotic spiders coming down from the ceiling!
Diagon Alley was super cool too, but not very big. There was also an outdoor space with Privet Drive and the Knight Bus. Platform 9 3/4 was fun, you could climb into the train and walk through it.
And after that, there were even more rooms with props and masks and behind-the-scenes stuff…
The light in most rooms was pretty horrible though, with harsh spotlights everywhere. I’m not skilled enough to take good photos in such light, but it’s always like that in museums and similar places. The point is to experience the things – not take pretty pictures. ;)
Hogwarts “miniature” model
This was one of the coolest exhibits in my opinion. A complete model of Hogwarts, built to scale.
The photo doesn’t do it justice, this model is stunning to look at! It’s incredibly detailed and even rigged with lights, so occasionally different rooms and buildings lit up from within. It’s also HUGE. The model is several meters across and almost twice as tall as a person. Markus and I both had to scrape our jaws off the floor when we saw it. 😮
I was actually sort of blown away with how much there was to see. Don’t know what I expected, but it was so much more than I envisioned. Walking through all the rooms + lunch in the cafeteria + browsing the souvenir shop took most of the day. It definitely felt like I got my money’s worth of entertainment and information!
There were several shops throughout the tour too. After walking through the Forbidden Forest you could browse a small shop dedicated to creatures. They had stuffed hippogriffs and spider magnets and stuff like that. And at Platform 9 3/4 was a train shop with lots of 9 3/4 logos and candy. The big main shop comes after you exit the tour – and you’re not allowed back in once you go out. Kind of a bummer because I sort of wanted to go back to the creature shop.
Another fun aspect was seeing people of all ages there. Lots of kids and families of course, but also lots of adults. Plenty of them older than us too. Saw a group of middle-aged ladies that seemed to have the time of their lives, haha! Harry Potter knows no age limits. :)
It was a great experience, both for the nerdgasm and for the very interesting look behind the scenes. I loved every second of this day. 💖