Harry Potter, The Warner Bros. Studio Tour, September
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.
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.
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.
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'.
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...
...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...
...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
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...
...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...
...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?
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...
...was Dumbledore’s office set, originally built for 'Harry Potter and
the Chamber of Secrets', with old magic books lining the walls.
...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 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
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.
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'.
For more on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour and Harry
Potter please see our tourist
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
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...
...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.
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!
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
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!
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.
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...
...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
More animatronics on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.
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
...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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.