On the 8th June myself and a group of friends got on the motorway and headed south to experience the Harry Potter Studio Tour, just outside London. Our tour was at 12:30pm, which we made in good time. For a fairly empty car park the inside of the studio was packed with Harry Potter fans. Families, couples, friends and school groups all queued at the tour entrance.
The tour started with a brief introduction followed by a small cinematic video to give you background behind what the tour will show you as well as what it means to the cast and crew. After the video the screen pulled away to reveal the doors which lead into the great hall. Two members of the public were chosen by our guide and had the opportunity to open the doors to let us in as it was their birthday. As we entered the great hall the scale was half the size to what I had expected. Each side was just like I had walked into the film with the tables along either side and at the far end was the stand where Dumbledore would address his students. Throughout the hall different costumes were on display of the different houses and of the professors. As I discovered looking at the manikins, I am the same height as Dumbledore. Well, that’s something positive about me being so short.
The tour continued through a one-way system which showed various costumes, props and sets. Some of the highlights for me were the range of costumes and wigs on display as well as some of the iconic sets from the film franchise. Harry Potter was part of my childhood, as I grew up with the films as they were being distributed the impact of the studio tour was magical (excuse the pun). This impact was stronger with some more than others, for example, one of my friends reacted like she was a seven year old girl who just entered Disneyland. The glee on her face was so adorable. Being able to walk through diagon alley and seeing every detail in the shop windows was fantastic.
Items that were on display ranged from different films from the series. At the halfway point which was outside, you could purchase your very own butter beer and other refreshments. The exterior of Privet drive was to scale and was a perfect photo opportunity for many people. Also a segment of the bridge was outside which you were able to walk on. It was surprisingly uneven and twisted. Just in front of it was the night bus with the memorable shrunken heads. The first quote to come to mind was “take it away Ernie!”
The second part of the tour looked at the more technical side of the making of Harry Potter. The first room was almost like a huge cupboard full off masks, models and robotics. There were shelves of goblins head as well as Dobbie’s and Fenrir Greyback’s facial constructions. Animatronics were especially interesting as some were interactive such as the mandrake root (shown in the Philosophers Stone) and Voldemort in the final film. One of my favourites in particular was Professor Lupin’s werewolf form (as seen in Prisoner of Azkaban).
Following the technical side was designs created previously in blue prints. Buildings and constructions which was part of Hogwarts were designed and developed like they were real buildings to a high professional standard. There were various paper models of various buildings within the Harry Potter world and blue prints pasted the walls for everyone walking through to see. The blueprints put emphasis on how in depth they went into certain sets and props.
The piece de resistance in my opinion was displayed at the end of the tour, which was a large model of Hogwarts. A ramp guided you around the model with different lighting, giving you a different perspective to view the artwork and take varied photographs. As you descended down the ramp you would then go into a room where there was hundreds of wands stacked with names of the people would worked on the films over the years. I managed to find Rupert Grint’s name on a box.
The Harry Potter Studio Tour was a fantastic experience and it was great to see and learn about how the films were made as well as reconnecting with something that was once my childhood and a large section of my life. I strongly recommend going to the Studio, especially if you are a fan of the books and films. I came away with my very own hufflepuff mug which I plan to keep as a reminder of my trip to the studio.