Though it’s impossible to run out of things to see in London there are some things you should leave the city to do…like visiting Hogwarts!
If you’re a Harry Potter fan like me you were probably equally devastated when the last film came out in 2011 because it meant it was all over…but thankfully Warner Brothers felt the same way the fans did and weren’t ready to say farewell to the wizarding world just yet either.
In early 2012 they opened the WB Studio Tour London which allowed fans to get up close and personal with sets, props, costumes and behind-the-scenes secrets behind the filming of all 8 Harry Potter movies. A dream come true and something to soften the blow of never receiving my own letter from Hogwarts. (Maybe the owl just got lost? There’s still hope!!)
Important Note: You MUST book your tickets online in advance – they don’t sell tickets at the actual studio tour. To get there from London it’s an easy 20 minute train ride from Euston Station to Watford Junction and you can catch a bus from the station to the tour for £2.50 return. Alternatively you can drive – free parking is available on-site.
The details of the exhibit are incredible and it’s easy to lose six hours in the blink of an eye.
Insider Tip: In addition to all the displays there are tons of video screens showing cast and crew interviews, secrets of the set and never before seen footage. Take my advice though – spend the extra £5 and get yourself an audio guide! Each guide is an iPod loaded with even more videos (for every one displayed on a screen in the tour there are an extra 2-3 on the guide), special photos, drawings and plans for the set. If you’re a true fan you won’t want to miss out on these special details!
Contemplating ways to defy Professor Umbridge…
A newer addition to the tour is the Hogwart’s Express. They’ve re-created King’s Cross in incredible detail and have the full-size train from the films.
You can even climb on board and see the compartments Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and co. filmed on!
‘Anything off the trolley, dears?’
The final part of the first half of the tour is a display of some of the paper props which are absolutely incredible. It’s amazing to see the detail and attention that went into items which only appear in passing in the films! It just shows the love and care that went into bringing the Harry Potter world to life on screen.
After a quick stop for Butterbeer…
…and a ride on Hagrid’s motorbike…
…we entered my dream come to life – Diagon Alley (complete with creeping Death Eater)!
The lighting in Diagon Alley switches from day to night allowing you to experience a day in the wizarding world in five minutes or less – brilliant!
To cap off this truly magical experience you follow a path from Diagon Alley, through a hall filled with original artworks and paper models they used when planning for filming. Familiar music fills the air and you turn a corner into darkness where Hogwarts is revealed in all it’s beautiful glory.
When you finally manage to tear yourself away from studying all of the incredible details you find yourself in the most magical gift shop you’ve ever seen. While you wander make sure you keep an eye out! There are house elves around every corner…