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UK Leisure Attraction: Warner Bros. Studio Tour

Belinda and Mike - follow our tourist travels in the UK

Harry Potter, The Warner Bros. Studio Tour, September 2013

As we'd followed many of the Harry Potter films we figured a visit to the magical: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter (that's its official title) was in order.  On the tour we enjoyed many of the amazing sets, props, costumes and special effects from the popular Harry Potter series; the Studio Tour included the entrancing Great Hall, the Backlot complete with Privet Drive and Hogwarts Bridge, the mysterious Diagon Alley and the awe-inspiring Hogwarts Castle model.  The Warner Bros. Studio Tour attraction is located at Watford, north of London and is dedicated to showcasing the world of the Harry Potter films.

Entrance to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter
Well the entrance to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour certainly looked very typical movie studio.  It's located just a few minutes from the M25's junction 19 making it easy to get to; alternatively there's a rather cool looking dedicated shuttle bus from Watford Junction station for £2 return, transfer time 15 minutes.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour lobby displaying the main Harry Potter characters
So here's the entrance lobby inside, with the main characters posted above, can you spot Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger?  There's also the Studio Café here and tour Digital Guides can be hired for £4.95.  The Warner Bros. Harry Potter attraction at Watford opened in March 2012.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour, the flying Ford Anglia
Now that looks like the magical flying Ford Anglia that whooshed across Glenfinnan Viaduct on the West Highland railway between Fort William and Mallaig in 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'.

Harry Potter visitors about to enter the Great Hall
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter is by pre-booked timed-ticket only, which worked out well as it minimised waiting time at the attraction and controlled visitor density.

After the pre-show cinema presentation where we watched Harry, Ron and Hermione introduce the attraction on the screens above, the golden doors seen here slowly opened into the Great Hall, fueling our excited anticipation for the first part of the Harry Potter tour.  And so we stepped onto the Hogwarts...

In the Great Hall on the Studio Tour
...Great Hall flagstones, moving past the two long tables neatly set for dinner and viewing many of the props and students' costumes from each of the Hogwarts houses.  We learnt from the Tour Interactor that over 3,000 Hogwarts uniforms were made for the actors and doubles with Harry, Ron and Hermione requiring 8-10 uniforms each year!  At the top...

Great Hall, the teachers’ table with Hogwarts Professors
...of the Great Hall was the teachers’ table with many of the Hogwarts Professors including Severus Snape, Albus Dumbledoor, Rubeus Hagrid and Mad Eye Moody, with Filius Flitwick conducting the Ministry of Magic O.W.L. examinations.  The Great Hall set was made for 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' and featured in another six Harry Potter films.

Set decoration in the Big Room
Following the Great Hall we entered the enormous Big Room containing iconic sets, costumes and props from the Harry Potter film series; from here on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour was self-paced.  We...

Art Direction and Hair & Makeup displays in the Studio Tour Big Room
...spent ages in the Big Room, learning just what was involved in making the Harry Potter film series.  We saw the Hogwarts gates, students dorm, and how the impressive special effects were done, plus...

Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Harry Potter film props
...this huge and varied collection of Harry Potter film props.  Strangely, the props were contained in a compound not making for an easy view - can you spot the visitor stretching over the barrier to take a shot?

The Leaky Cauldron hallway demonstrating forced perspective
This intriguing set is the hallway to the wizard pub along the Leaky Cauldron, built using a technique called forced perspective to make it appear much longer.  Butterbeer anyone?  Further on...

Dumbledore’s office set in the Warner Bros. Studio Tour
...was Dumbledore’s office set, originally built for 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets', with old magic books lining the walls.  Next...

Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Hagrid's Hut set
...set on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour was Hagrid's Hut within which his large hound Fang appeared to be keeping guard.  Onto the...

Potions classroom set with Professor Snape
...Potions classroom set at the Studio Tour, complete with Professor Snape among all the mysterious jars and bottles of strange potions lining the shelves.  It kinda reminded Mike of school chemistry lessons.

The Burrow set at the Harry Potter attraction
This set is The Burrow, Ron Weasley's family home and indeed Harry Potter's second home.  The orange and red colours reflect the flame-haired Weasley family and no wall or surface is straight.

Sirius Black and Nymphadora Tonks costumes
Sirius Black and Nymphadora Tonks costumes.

Taking a pic of the Death Eaters on the Studio Tour
Here are the scary Death Eaters, the wizards and witches who followed Lord Voldemort and engaged in the Dark Arts as typified by their long robes and skull masks in 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'.  Oo-er!

For more on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour and Harry Potter please see our tourist resources.

Motion rig carrying Harry Potter's broomstick against a chroma green background
Harry Potter learnt to fly a broomstick back in '91; this rig demonstrated how the action is captured against a chroma green background which is replaced in editing by a filmed backdrop or CGI.  Magical!

Ministry of Magic headquarters on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour
The Ministry of Magic headquarters of the wizarding governing body for the magical community which it strives to keep hidden from Muggles.  We finally moved from the fascinating Big Room to the...

Warner Bros. Studio Tour: catering stand in the Backlot area
...Backlot.  Here we experienced our only disappointment on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour - a cold, tasteless and way overpriced hot dog.  Moral: bring a picnic.  Foaming tankards of the butterscotch tasting Butterbeer was sold here too.

Hogwarts Bridge in the Backlot of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour
First seen in 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban', the dilapidated looking Wooden Bridge led into Hogwarts Castle and was destroyed during the Battle of Hogwarts at the end of the Second Wizarding War.  Opps!

Knight Bus from 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'
Here's the Knight Bus from 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban'.  The purple triple decker Knight Bus is 22 foot tall and was created from three vintage buses and actually works.  Also here on the Backlot was Hagrid's motorbike which visitors could straggle.

Harry Potter: Wizard's Chess pieces
The Wizard's Chess pieces were featured both in front of the Studio Tour entrance and again here in the Backlot.  Wizard's Chess is somewhat different from the usual game - the pieces move of their own accord and violently smash against each other!  Gasp!

Studio Tour Backlot: Number 4 Privet Drive
After Harry's parents were killed by Lord Voldemort, he was raised by his relatives at No. 4 Privet Drive, the quiet suburban home of the Dursleys and replicated here on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour Backlot.

Studio Tour Backlot: Potters' Cottage
Potters' Cottage was wrecked by that nasty wizard Voldemort with a rebounding Killing Curse after he'd murdered Harry's parents.  Moving on from the Backlot then and into...

Creature Effects department at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour
...the Creature Effects where Dobby the elf and Griphook Goblin were some of the authentic prosthetic goblin masks created by Warner Bros. Creature Effects department and worn by the actors during filming.  Also hanging from the ceiling here was Aragog, the huge scary animatronic spider created for 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets'.

Animatronics display on the Studio Tour
More animatronics on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Diagon Alley
Next at the Harry Potter attraction we entered Diagon Alley, the cobbled wizarding street as redesigned in its final incarnation for 'Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince'.  The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge and Prince Harry famously waved their wands in Diagon Alley and it's even on Google Street View!  Located in London behind a pub called...

Shop window in Diagon Alley
...the Leaky Cauldron, we wandered through the mysterious Diagon Alley and admired the amazingly detailed shop windows of Ollivanders Wand Shop, Flourish and Blotts, the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Gringotts Wizarding Bank and Eeylops Owl Emporium, all collectively containing over 20,000 different items and packages.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour: Hogwarts Castle model
Wow!  The intricately detailed Hogwarts Castle 1:24 scale model was truly amazing!  50 feet in diameter, and with over 2,500 fibre optic lights it was painstakingly built by 86 artists for 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone' then altered many times for subsequent films.  Hogwarts Castle's landscape was inspired by the Scottish Highlands and the model was used for aerial filming and scanned for CGI scenes.  We could walk right round the model while the lighting cycled day-to-night and awe-inspiring music played.

Ollivanders Wand Shop replication
We next rolled into an interior replication of Ollivanders Wand Shop (having seen the exterior earlier in Diagon Alley).  The wand shop shelves were stacked high with magic wands, which have the amazing ability to choose its witch or wizard owner who will wield it to channel their magical powers and cast scary spells.  Oo-er!

There's more magical Harry Potter and Warner Bros. Studio Tour stuff in our spellbinding tourist resources.

Studio Shop
The tour exited through the huge Studio Shop (of course!) where everything Harry Potter could be bought such as replica wands, broomsticks, Hogwarts robes, Harry Potter DVDs, games, fridge magnets and mugs.  Anyone know a spell to get Belinda out-a-there?

As you probably know the Harry Potter books were authored by J.K. Rowling and the film series was made by Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden.


The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter is run on a timed ticketing system to contain visitor numbers to a comfortable level and tickets need to be purchased in advance (not available on the door).  At the time of our visit in 2013 adult entry was £29.00, but strangely when clicking to the purchase page the price magically increased to £30.00 with no explanation!  Hmmm, Harry and his pals must have been waving their wands about!

Warner Bros. say to allow three hours for the tour, however, we took considerably longer.  Although the Studio Tour is a permanent attraction, Warner Bros. indicates it will not always be Harry Potter themed and will likely incorporate future productions.

Other Harry Potter themed attractions are The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal's Islands of Adventure in Florida, and another scheduled to open in 2016 at Universal Studios Hollywood.


We've also done the (now disbanded) Granada Studios tour.