The Magic of Retail at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

Earlier this year, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter revealed several new dining and retail opportunities for visitors to enjoy. These additions are more than gift shops and cafés- they are extensions of the Studio Tour experience – and the company responsible, Lumsden, has recently revealed the magic behind the designs of the spaces.

Three new cafés were opened in 2019: the Hub Café, the Chocolate Frog Café, and the Food Hall. Each of these eateries uses different theming and props from the Harry Potter films to create a magical atmosphere.

According to website Dexigner, the Hub Café uses “authentic prop potion jars” to begin the Studio Tour experience from the moment visitors step onto the premises.

 

 

Both the Chocolate Frog Café and the Food Hall continue the concept of highly themed dining. The Chocolate Frog Café features a design inspired by chocolate frog packaging, including a canopy with “brass detailing in a range of handmade finishes.” Fans of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban can also gaze up at 70-foot-long depictions of the Marauder’s Map, which adorn the walls.

 

 

The Food Hall is a 500-person capacity dining hall that takes inspiration from the Great Hall. According to Dexigner, set builders from the Potter films collaborated with Lumsden to create the vaulted ceiling, floating candles, and night sky effect.

 

 

The attention to detail in each of these cafés proves that when visitors take time to stop and eat, it doesn’t mean they should be taken out of their wizarding world experience. Lumsden’s design director, James Dwyer, revealed that commitment to guest experience is important when designing spaces for the Studio Tour:

For a project like this, it’s important to understand that storytelling doesn’t start or stop with the tour. It starts the moment the visitor arrives and permeates all spaces from café to retail and beyond.

In addition to the new eating experiences, Lumsden worked on redesigning and remodeling the gift shop, taking it from 6,000 to 9,000 square feet. The shop has been designed as both an extension of the tour and an experience in itself, with each section of the space designed to reflect shops in Diagon Alley and other wizarding world locations.

 

 

According to Dexigner, the grouping of products in this way has enhanced the visitor experience through “visual storytelling and intuitive wayfinding.” From a visitor perspective, it may mean saving up a few more Galleons because grouping products in this way is sure to have an impact on product sales!

 

 

 

Besides including props from the series, such as a 16-foot-high stained glass window and orrery prop from the Astronomy Tower, other theming touches have been added to each section of the shop.

 

 

 

The confectionary corner has been painted a bright green to reflect Honeyduke’s Sweetshop, and in another section, copies of the Daily Prophet stream across the ceiling and filing cabinets adorn the walls to suggest a busy newspaper print room.

 

 

 

Interactive technology has also been incorporated into the shop design, with the wand shop invoking Ollivander’s famous store through a digital window and product demonstration area.

 

 

These newly designed food and retail areas were just the start of an incredible year for the Studio Tour.

In addition to the usual Dark Arts and Hogwarts in the Snow events, 2019 saw the opening of the Gringotts set addition and announcement of “two contemporary classrooms” set to open in 2020 to further the Studio Tour’s commitment to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education.

What do you think of the new cafés and shops? How would you further enhance the visitor experience at the Studio Tour?

Lucy O'Shea

I was given a copy of Philosopher's Stone in 2001, and instantly, I was hooked. Since then, my passion for Potter has been equaled only by my passion for fair access to education (and watching motorsport). A spell I wish could exist in the Muggle world is the summoning charm because this Hufflepuff is not a "particularly good finder"!