MuggleNet Review: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London Hogwarts Express

Who’s ready to hop aboard the Hogwarts Express when it arrives at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter later this month?

Today, MuggleNet was invited along to a preview of the new Platform 9 3/4 expansion, with a very special guest in attendance – none other than Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley) himself!

We were previously lucky to see a sneak preview of the feature, which you can read about here. That was only a month ago, and then the site was still covered in scaffolding and new paint. Today, it was quite different, and you might have been forgiven for thinking that you had wandered into King’s Cross itself.

Hogwarts Express

As we rounded the corner, we saw the train itself waiting at the platform, ready to bear us away to Hogwarts, steam billowing out around it. At one end, a façade depicts the bustling station of King’s Cross, giving the illusion that the station continues on. The famous clock stands at 11 a.m., ready for the train to depart, full of eager Hogwarts students.

Hogwarts Express

The engine itself is the original one used in the films and prior to appearing in the films, served as a real, working train. The new feature was worked on by designer Stuart Craig, construction manager Paul Hayes, and set decorator Rosie Goodwin, as well as special effects supervisor John Richardson.

Along the walls were trolleys and trunks, halfway through the wall, ready for visitors to pose with for pictures. Throughout the area, there were trolleys and trunks belonging to Hogwarts students, waiting to be loaded onto the train.

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Behind the train itself is a carriage that is open to visitors. The carriage was originally used in the first film, and it is easy to believe that you have just boarded the train for Hogwarts. We were able to explore the narrow carriage, and some of the compartments were laid out as they were in some of the films – from the Prisoner of Azkaban to the epilogue in Deathly Hallows. There were several opportunities for pictures here as well. Outside the carriage was a row of open booths, as used in filming, which revealed how the green screen technology had worked, particularly for those Dementor scenes in Prisoner of Azkaban.

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There is also a railway shop, which offers Hogwarts Express goodies for you to take home – as well as a trolley stacked up with sweets, as you would expect!

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The structure itself is impressive, and it certainly feels like a real platform. As you can see from the pictures, it’s a huge space. It’s hard to believe that it has all been constructed over the last few months. As always, the amount of detail and care that has gone into creating this new section of the tour is overwhelming. Of course it was very quiet, with only a few people wandering about, which will be different when it opens, no doubt making it feel like the train is just about to leave!

We were amazed at the amount of work and preparation that had gone into the feature, and we can’t wait for it to open to the public so that you can all enjoy it, too. It’s definitely a very exciting addition to the tour – and something that you’ll just have to go back and see!

In the official press release, Williams said,

I’ve really enjoyed being back at the Studio Tour, seeing the original Hogwarts Express and the superb recreation of Platform 9 3/4. People don’t always realise that the school train was in fact […] a real working locomotive [that] has been transporting passengers up and down the country since 1937. We always enjoyed filming on Platform 9 ¾; it was the beginning of every adventure. The Hogwarts Express was a magical part of the Harry Potter film series.

MuggleNet also got a chance to chat to Mark, and we’ll have the interview available for you to watch as soon as possible, so make sure you look out for it! In the meantime, check out the rest of our pictures in the gallery below. The feature opens to the public on March 19 and is included in normal ticket prices.

Thanks again to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour for inviting MuggleNet along today.

Are you looking forward to the new feature opening this month? Have you already got your tickets to go? Let us know in the comments!

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  • ThruGog

    I’ve been to the tour several times and will definitely go back for this. Where does it join the rest of the tour? I gather that as it’s all new it hasn’t replaced anything?

    • It’s at the end of the first sound stage, entrance after the Quidditch area. You then exit via the new covered area in the backlot. Reckon this is definitely worth a return trip!

      • ThruGog

        Thanks!

  • Snufflebeast

    The studio tour definitely has a greater appeal to me than the theme parks and this makes that even truer! One thing always irritates me, though: the unusual lighting. I don’t know what it looks like in person but in photographs it makes everything look washed-out, softened and unnaturally blue-tinted. I actually find it a little uncomfortable. Does anyone have an explanation? In no way does it reflect the look of the films, so what is it?