Literally no trip to London, or indeed the UK, can be complete for any Harry Potter fan that doesn’t make it along to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour. Based in Leavesdon, the studio is supposed to be the ultimate Harry Potter experience. I booked my ticket and counted down the days to my visit.
When the big day finally arrived (it was actually my birthday, but that seemed irrelevant knowing I was about to come face to face with Lord Voldemort)! I headed up to Watford Junction train station and then I knew I would be able to get a bus from there to Leavesdon, but I didn’t know how I was going to differentiate the regular buses from the one that would take me to the studio. I wondered, hopefully, whether it would be a Knight Bus. And… it was. The day had made a promising start.
The excitement begins before even entering the tour, when you are greeted in the foyer by huge posters of all your favourite characters. Not only that, but a flying Ford Anglia. If you are taking kids you are given a free stamp book which can be filled out using embossing machines throughout the tour. Even if you are just a child at heart you can for a stamp book anyway. Although officially they are meant for the kids, you’ll only feel left out if you don’t have one yourself.
Further into the tour and you get the chance to enjoy a butter beer on Privet Drive, have your photo taken on Hagrid’s motorbike and visit Tom Riddle’s grave; a minute’s silence for Cedric Diggory may be appropriate here.
One of the best parts of the tour is the Creature Shop, where you discover how the characters and monsters from the movies are designed and made. These include some really impressive animatronics, and models of Buckbeak the hippogriff, Aragog and a foetal Voldemort from the final movie. All this ties in beautifully with the incredibly detailed building and character plans which you see later, along with artists impressions on which many of the designs were based.
The main thing you take away from the tour is just how much care and effort was put into creating every aspect of Harry Potter’s world. No corners were cut, and you get a real sense that the filmmakers set out to make their sets and designs as real as possible so that the films would really come to life on screen.
Not only is this the perfect day out for a Harry Potter fan, it’s such a fascinating insight into the making of a high budget, fantasy movie that anyone with an interest in film would get absolutely tonnes from the visit. Which means you can drag along friends or family who are less familiar with the movies and it’ll still be a great day out for everyone.
A few bits for planning your trip – book your tickets well in advance from the Harry Potter Tour website, and if you’re getting the bus from Watford Junction to Leavesdon make sure you’ve got a couple of quid on you, as the bus ride is not included in your ticket price. If you want to stay in the area, you’ll be conveniently located between Watford and the rest of London if you aim for Shepherd’s Bush hotels. The main thing though is to have an incredible day and possibly keep a bit of pocket money aside for the cavernous gift shop too…