We were recently invited to the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Warner Brother Studios to have a look at their latest Back to School exhibtion. This wasn’t our first visit to the tour as we went last year for Ross’ birthday but there was no way we would refuse an invitation to go back! And this time we took my sister, Stephanie, and my niece, Emily, with us.
As it was the day after the MAD Blog Awards I journeyed to Watford Junction via train and got the dedicated Harry Potter bus at the other end – a different way to enter the exhibition than last time in a bus full of lots of excited people. It was a lovely atmosphere (apart from the very grumpy bus driver!).
Upon arrival I was waiting for Grace and Ross to appear. Grace had no clue that we were going again, nor that her cousin was going to be there. Steph and Emily got there first and hid round the corner to wait for Grace. She was over the moon to see her cousin and they gave each other a massive hug and then I gave them their tickets.
A lovely lady by the name of Vicki took us in through the secret entrance where the rest of the people booked in for that session joined us. One of the things I love about the Harry Potter Studio Tour is that a certain number of people are allocated a time slot so that the tour doesn’t become too crowded. We were in the first room where a short film about the concept of Harry Potter and J K Rowlings first steps onto the rungs of the ladder of fame are taken.
Once the introduction is over we were then taken into the cinema and sat in some very comfy leather chairs (I would LOVE these at home!). Steph, Emily and Grace sat at the front but, as a bunch of rather rude children and parents barged past us and pushed their way through, Ross and I decided not to get involved so we sat at the back!
The film is all about the behind the scenes magic that happened to bring the Harry Potter films to the big scren including an explanation that all the things we are about to see are the original items from the films themselves.
Once the film was over we entered the beautiful large doors into the Great Hall at Hogwarts where the tour really began. There was a display showing some desks with exam papers as part of the ‘Back to School’ exhibition. Time in the hall was limited to allow for the next tour through but after that, our time was our own. As we looked around the displays and exhibits again, the girls were so excited and they had a wonderful time stamping their passports at each designated point. You really can’t let the children miss out on this. It’s included in the admission and really keeps them on the look out!
There were small areas set up in different parts of the exhibition where special makes and colouring were happening for ‘Back to School’. We then came across a member of the tour teaching stances for different spell casting and children were being invited up to pose with the wands and practice throwing spells.
We were also lucky enough to meet who took us through the green screen exhibit where you got a chance to ride in the Weasley’s car and both Grace and Emily got decked in Hogwarts robes and rode a broom. We decided to purchase the photos of Emily and Grace on their brooms at a cost of £16 for two photos. Here is Grace’s photo:
We moved to the outside where we saw Harry’s house in Privet Drive, Hagrid’s motorbike and side car, the Weasley’s car, the Knight Bus and Hogwarts bridge which, unlike last time, we were allowed to walk across! We also bought one butter beer between us. Having already tasted it the last time we were here we knew a) how pricey it was and b) how sickly it could be. One between the 5 of us was enough on our pockets and our taste buds! Another tip: take your own packed lunch. The food here is very pricey and you could end up rather annoyed with the amount of money you have spent before you even make it to the gift shop!
The rest of the exhibition encompassed the wax works and animatronics which showed how the very talented behind the scenes team made things come alive. We also went up Diagon Alley and saw all the intricate models and designs before the centre piece itself, the amazing model of Hogwarts. This was the moment that brought tears to my eyes the last time we came and it was just as breathtaking this time around.
Upon exiting the exhibition you are taking through Ollivanders wand shop where there are hundreds of wand boxes which all bear the name of a person who took part in the filming. Ross spotted the name of an actor he had previously been in a film with! You are then taken into the merchandise shop. Be warned, you will need LOTS of money if you want to spend in here. Grace chose a chocolate wand for £3.95 and Emily decided upon a working clapperboard from Warner Brother Studios which I thought was a great idea! When I wasn’t looking, Ross also very kindly bought me a magic mug to say thank you for organising the day. But the biggest thank you goes to all the wonderful and very helpful staff at the Harry Potter Studio Tour.
The exhibits at the Harry Potter Studio Tour really are a sight to behold and our photos don’t do it justice. Maybe the video that Ross has made will give you some idea just how special this place really is:
We love this place and would go back again and again. You think it would take no time to go round but on both occasions now we spent at least 4 hours there!
With thanks to the wonderful staff at Warner Brothers Studios who made this tour possible for us and providing us with tickets to the tour and some memorabilia to take away from the day.
This was also a Magic Moment in more ways than one so I am linking up to Magic Moments with The Olivers Madhouse.