London Studio Tour Pre-Launch Report
Hidden away in southern Hertfordshire, magic is happening. Over ten years of Harry Potter film history is being unearthed and put on display, where, next spring, it’ll form one of the United Kingdom’s most extraordinary attractions. I’m talking about none other than Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter at Leavesden Studios.
A few weeks ago, I was invited for a sneak peek behind the scenes of the Leavesden studio tour to see how the development was coming along and to take a glance at some of the sets, creatures, special effects, and props that will be featured in the tour.
Everything is being done with great care and respect to ensure an authentic representation of the Harry Potter films. While some of the sets are still erected in their original format, many of the structures and props have been kept in storage, where they have faced damage and decay. Drafted to repair and painstakingly restore the items is the team originally involved in creating them.
Set in over 150,000 square feet, the tour will be housed in two studios, as well as an exterior space for some of the outdoor sets and props. It is estimated that visitors will need three hours to complete the tour, and the studios are expecting around 5,000 visitors a day.
The experience starts with eight digital screens playing footage from all the films. As the footage concludes, you will be taken to a theater where you will see some exclusive messages from the cast and crew reminiscing about their time on the set. From here, visitors will be taken to the iconic Great Hall set. Moved for the first time in 11 years, it has been meticulously rebuilt like a complex jigsaw so that you can witness the sheer scale and detail of the magnificent structure.
One of the film’s oldest sets, the Gryffindor common room, will also appear in the tour and will be featured next to the boys’ dormitory. Visitors will only be able to walk partway into these sets to view the fully furnished rooms. You will be able to see the original beds that were made for Harry, Ron, Seamus, Neville, and Dean, which the actors quickly outgrew during filming. Additional attractions featured on the tour include Dumbledore’s office, the Black family tapestry, the library, the Ministry of Magic, Hagrid’s hut, the Potions classroom, the cupboard under the stairs, and the Weasley kitchen.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the tour is discovering that elements in the films you expect to have been done by CGI are real. A perfect example of this is the beautiful door to the Chamber of Secrets complete with moving parts. You’ll be able to witness some of the special effects firsthand as Lupin’s trunk folds away before your eyes and Moody’s trunk unlocks to reveal an imprisoned Mad-Eye at the bottom (using carefully placed mirrors). Another huge part of the tour is the creatures and animatronics section. For those interested in filmmaking, you’ll get to see how prosthetics and models were used to create lifelike creatures.
What I like most about the studio tour is the level of honesty and authenticity it bestows. You will be able to see the scaffolding, plaster, and tape that hold the sets together. This gutsy decision was made so that fans will get to experience things exactly as the cast and crew did when they shot the films. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter is a celebration of the craftsmanship of Harry Potter filmmaking, and I highly recommend it.
Due to huge demand, tickets will only be available through prebooking. They will not be sold on-site. You can buy tickets online at www.wbstudiotour.co.uk when they go on sale on October 13, or from approved tour operators. Tickets will be priced at £28 for adults, £21 for children, and £83 for a family of four.