I didn’t realise quite how much I loved Harry Potter until I completed the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. Magic nerd alert.
I was seven years old when I was first sucked into the world of chocolate frogs, Death Eaters, and house elves. Now, almost two decades later (OH MY GOD I’M OLD), that innocent literary find has transformed into a brand worth over $15 billion; thanks, in large part, to the eight-part Harry Potter film empire.
Shortly after arriving at our allocated time for the un-guided walking tour we watched a quick introduction to the day in a small theatre and were then welcomed through the iconic Great Hall (quite literally a gasp-triggering moment).
Though I will attempt to keep my geek out to a minimum (imagine the pain I went through cutting down 100s of photos to 74), the attention to detail of the Harry Potter Studio Tour is awe-inspiring from the second it begins. From the rings scattered around bunsen burners in the potions classroom to the grafitti doodles on the axe-aged oak tables in the Great Hall, each set brings quintessential ‘movie magic’ to life.
Alongside costumes, animatronics, special effects and props, many of the sets have been left in tact to wander around and photograph at your own pace; 4 Privet Drive, the Weasley kitchen, the Gryffindor Common Room (which houses the infamous Invisibility Cloak), The Magic is Might statue (sculpted with foam and hand-painted), the Potter cottage in Godric’s Hollow, and more.
Two of my favourite spots were Dumbledore’s office and Diagon Alley. In Dumbledore’s astronomy-packed office we stumbled upon the Sorting Hat, Sword of Gryffindor, and discovered that his hundreds of books are actually phone books covered in leather. In Diagon Alley, hot spots like Ollivanders Wand Shop simply called for a thousand photos. As a large set, some parts of Diagon Alley were actually tweaked to create Hogsmeade village in The Prisoner of Azkaban (obviously not including the three-story orange explosion that is the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes shop).
Unintentionally, our little group of Potterheads were pleased to find out that we had chosen to visit the Studio Tour on ‘Animal Actors‘ week (running through this Sunday, the 2nd of June). In addition to a brush with Hermione’s flat-faced kitty companion, Crookshanks, we were also able to hang out in the common room with Ron Weasley’s owl, Pigwidgeon, and walk down Privet Drive with everyone’s favourite snowy owl, Hedwig. Though all fifty of the kittens were adopted from the porcelain kitten plates in Dolores Umbridge’s office at The Ministry of Magic (the gaudy pink heaven, with much of the furniture coming from a Middle Eastern furniture shop only a stone’s throw from my own office), the Studio Tour also explained the secrets of how – using blue screens – the kittens were brought to life in the film.
From a make-up standpoint, it was a dream come true to see the special cosmetic effects of characters like Greyback, who wore a seven-piece silicone prosthetic mask made of hand-sewn goat hair, and Griphook the goblin.
Wrapping up with the long-awaited tour of Hogwarts castle and grounds (you will see tourists crying at this point), The Harry Potter Studio Tour definitely felt like the best three hours I have spent in a very long time.
Get your tickets here, muggles. You won’t regret it.