I visited the Harry Potter studios a while ago, to be honest I’m surprised I haven’t written a post about it until now!
So it begins with a shuttle bus that picks you up from Watford Junction station. It’s all done up with ‘The Making Of Harry Potter’ and such, so you really can’t miss it. Me and my other half were panicking as our train had been delayed, so we were a little late – but luckily the time on the ticket is valid for up to half an hour. We’d have been so gutted if they hadn’t let us in!
It begins with a looong queue, but there are some props and small sets to look at – such as Harry’s cupboard under the stairs in Privet Drive, so it isn’t boring. Or too long of a wait. Any way, we’re the British, and if there’s anything we’re good at, it’s queueing.
Most of the tour is at your own pace, but first you’re hustled into a room where one of the staff has a little chat with you, then into another room reminiscent of a cinema…you watch a short film with Daniel Radcliffe and his cohorts introducing the tour – before, rather ‘magically’, you’re quite suddenly invited into the Great Hall of Hogwarts.
Every kids dream, right? It certainly was mine. I grew up with the books, I remember ordering mine in advance and arriving at the crack of dawn to pick it up. I wouldn’t put it down all day, and by night time I had usually finished it. So standing in a place one had imagined or seen in the films for their whole childhood? Pretty cool (yes I’m being a massive geek but we all have our weaknesses!)
Look at Dumbledore! I’d love to have robes like that. I’d swoop all over the place. But sadly I don’t think I’d ever be able to match his beard.
Any way, on we trotted, through sets, noseying at props, costumes, and learning some of the production secrets. I was pleased that there wasn’t a tour guide – you could get an audio guide, but most of the information was available to read – and to be honest, there’s far too much for an actual person to explain to everyone. You’d be there for days!
If you look at that photo (I believe it was of a corridor in the Leaky Cauldron) it looks like…well, like a long corridor right? But it’s actually an optical illusion. They bent it and made the corridor shrink, so that it would look much lengthier than it actually was.
Door to the Chamber of Secrets! I thought it was CGI, but they actually built it. They also had the fancy Gringotts door, and the really tall one with all the locks on it in Hogwarts.
Check out the green on the inside of the Invisibility Cloak…I didn’t realise the Green Screen concept would work on such flappy material, but there you go…
Some of the more awesome props and sets. Look at Snape looking all evil!
Some of the prosthetics for the goblins and the merpeople…and the Dementor, which was actually really tiny. It’s funny ‘cos he’s hanging up next to Aragog which is HUUUUUGE. In fact:
I don’t think the Dementor would stand a chance in that particular fight! Excuse the bad quality photo, these were all taken on my old camera, which was starting to break at this point.
Finally that was the replica of Hogwarts Castle they used for some of the sweeping shots, down to the last detail. Its pretty big, I couldn’t quite get it all in. There’s a lot of the artwork and panels the designers made as you walk through as well, including some of the Death Eaters mask, the ship Karkaroff Durmstrang uses, and so on.
These are only a tiny selection of the stuff on offer. From the wands to Privet Drive to the Knight Bus to Dumbledore’s Office to Hagrid’s Hut to Diagon Alley…it really is fascinating. Particularly for those with a particular interest in film making, design, production and so on.
Unfortunately, it is pretty pricey. I was very lucky in that tickets for me and my other half were a very kind gift, but it isn’t the cheapest day out. The ‘Butter Beer’ was around 3 quid, and was a huge disappointment. Thankfully we clocked what it was before we bought any – basically a Coca Cola ice cream float. I get it couldn’t be the alcoholic brand (although that looks delicious.) but come ooon, use some imagination!
The gift shop is on the way out, and the prices made me feel a bit ill. There were some extremely expensive collectors items in there (including an exact copy of Dumbledore’s robes for 500 pounds. Wow.) I treated myself to a t-shirt, but I suppose that was probably in part because I hadn’t had to shell out for the tickets!
Any way, it was a really fun day out – interesting, educational in some respects, and about a million photo opportunities! How often can you have your photo taken in Dumbledore’s office? Or there is a chance to have it taken on a broomstick, flying overhead…I would have done this, but the queue really was quite immense and I felt we could spent that time noseying at all the props instead!
So calling all Harry Potter geeks, this is definitely worth a go…but families, beware, the Gift Shop is full of goodies and the kids may well demand everything in it. I know I would have done!