The Wizardry World of Harry Potter! January 20 2014
Squealing like a couple of kids, my niece Louise and I went to Warner Bros Studio Tour, The Making of Harry Potter in Watford. It had been booked for weeks and it had to be when Hogwarts was covered in the snow. The snow was only for the Christmas period but it proved so popular, the studio extended it so people who couldn't book in the month of December, had a chance of seeing it in January.
When I'd told people we were going, their initial reaction was, "What you going there for? It's for kids isn't it?"
No it isn't just for kids, it's for children and adult alike. Eight years old or Eighty years old, you can marvel at the wizardry of Harry Potter's world.
The Sat Nav took us straight there but even if you didn't have a Sat Nav and just a print out of AA Router, once you get to Leavesden in Watford, the Warner Bros Studio is clearly signed posted.
Emma Watson has the same size hands!
Tickets cost £30 each for adults and £22.50 for children aged between 5-15 years and £89 for a family of four. If you buy tickets online, you need to get there 20 minutes before your slot so you can collect your tickets. As it was, we arrived about 45 minutes before our 11 o'clock slot and so we had plenty of time to collect our tickets and get a Starbucks before queuing.
The studio itself is very well organised and apart from the first part of the tour, you can spend as long as you want on the tour.
Now if you want to see the tour for yourself and don't want the surprise spoilt for you, then I suggest you stop reading right here!!!
But if you want to know what's instore of the grand tour then step right up, hurry hurry, the show is about to begin...
As we queued, we were told we could take as many photos as we liked but try and save the battery life of your camera/phone for the very end of the tour or we would be disappointed. Having a full battery on my phone, I did bear this in mind, I didn't want to be missing out on a thing!
Once inside you are taken into a small cinema showing a short film about how the Harry Potter franchise took the world by storm. The screen splits to reveal a door, the door to The Great Hall of Hogwarts! There you will see the table settings and various costumes such as Dumbledore, Sybill Tralawney, Hagrid and Professor Filius Flitwick to name a few.
From here onwards, you are moved onto The Big Room where you can explore the original sets, costumes, props, special effects. There is Dumbledore's Office, Hagrid's Hut, the Weasley's Kitchen the list is endless all leading onto Privet Drive where there is an eatery for food and drink and the famous Butterbeer...
Quite why Louise and I bought a Butterbeer each, I don't know... It was like drinking the most sweetest, most greasiest Cream Soda EVER and I don't like Cream Soda at the best of times! And the more you sipped, the more the Butterbeer seemed to fill the glass! I think I had about three sips, I absolutely couldn't drink anymore neither could Louise. I should have just stuck to Hot Chocolate!
Here at Privet Drive you'll see Hogwarts Bridge, the Knight Bus, the Flying Ford Anglia (although not suspended in the air) and Hagrid's motorbike.
Through past the toilets, you can walk on to see the creature effects such as the Buckbeat and the Mandrake. Then onto the cobbled Diagon Alley, this, I was really looking forward to see but although it was Diagon Alley, it didn't quite look how I imagined it to be but then how was it ever it going to look like it did in the films? It was indoors in a studio for a start! Nevertheless, the details of the buildings and in the shop windows, were so intricate, they looked like they could be real shops albeit, eccentric shops!
As you stroll up and out of Diagon Alley, you enter through the Art Department where you will see the most wonderful architect drawing of the gothic buildings before leading you to The Model Room. And it is here the magnificent model of Hogwarts stands in all its glory and covered in snow! I literally said out loud, "WOW!" I always thought Hogwarts was computer graphics, I never thought it was an actual model, I don't know why but I just didn't. The model is HUGE. You can walk around it and take photos at different angles. The mood lighting lets you see the school at night and you can see lights flickering through the windows... And this why you are asked to save the battery life of your camera or phone... It's really quite breathtaking.
As you walk around and leave Hogwarts, you enter Ollivanders Wand Shop. There are 4000 wands all individually named after every cast member, production team, set worker and runner that ever worked on the Harry Potter films. Each wand is inscribed with a different handwritten ancient remedy inside! Amazing. If you are looking for the wand of one of your favourite actors, just ask one of the guides, they will direct you straight to it.
There are many, many secrets you can learn about the making of the films. So much thought and detail went into absolutely everything from the contents of the glass bottles in the Potions Classroom, to the metalwork carving on Alastor Moody's magical trunk, to the placing and colours of feathers on the Buckbeat.
You can have wand-waving lessons... "Izzy whizzy, let's get busy", oops sorry wrong character, that's Sooty not Harry Potter!! Or sit in the Green Room on a broomstick or sit in the Wesley's Ford Anglia.
The gift shop is pricey though but then aren't all these things? I saw a Quidditch Broomstick hanging for sale at £245! A Chocolate Toad was £7. Wands were £25 each and t-shirts and sweatshirts were up to £40... You get the picture?
The tour is one-way so make sure you see as much as you want and take as many photos as you can because once you leave a room, you can't go back.
The Making of Harry Potter is amazing, Louise and I both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We spent about 3 hours there but you can spend longer if wish. You will see children dressed in Hogwarts attire and you will see Grandparents enjoying the tour as much as their Grandchildren. If you are thinking of going, go! *Accio! You won't regret it...
*Accio = Summoning Charm