Event Report: Secrets Will Be Revealed at Warner Bros. Studio Tour
Arriving at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter this Christmas is like walking into a winter wonderland, with beautiful giant Christmas trees welcoming you as soon as you step through the door. The amazing tree in the entrance hall is so huge that it can only have been put there by Hagrid (though it was actually installed and decorated by dedicated staff in the small hours of the morning).
We were invited to see the new winter decorations on the day Warner Bros. Studio Tour was celebrating the one-millionth guest to the site. The one-millionth guest, a family of four from the town of Dudley, was greeted by Mark Williams, who had just been around the tour to celebrate his daughter’s birthday. He presented them with a Nimbus 2000 and a goody bag of merchandise, making their family day out that little bit more unexpectedly magical.
The tour itself has been tweaked and changed since its grand opening. There are other small changes that have been made based on visitor comments; the lines for a broomstick photo are now much shorter for instance, and the bridge to Hogwarts is now open so that visitors can walk across.
The main attraction, however, is the glorious Christmas fittings that have been added to four key sets on the tour. Stephenie McMillan, the movies’ set decorator, and Rosie Goodwin, the last three movies’ set decorator, were involved in designing and overseeing the decorations, as well as John Richardson, the special effects supervisor.
On entering the Great Hall, you are now greeted with a magnificent Christmas feast, with eight giant trees adorned with golden stars, moons, birds, and the occasional witch that you can see flying around the top of the tree in the movies. The fireplace holds a large wreath surrounding the Hogwarts crest, and the tables are decked with the most delicious array of Christmas goods.
The gigantic Christmas desserts that were used in the films contained gas canisters that allowed them to flame nonstop throughout filming. My personal favorites are the Christmas cakes with adorable snowmen in school uniforms on top. Each section still holds the uniforms of a House, and the tables have been laid with House crackers to add to the appeal.
As you go through the tour, you find that the Gryffindor common room and boys’ dormitory have also been decorated for the season. We spoke to the wonderful staff, who explained that the decorations are designed to make it look like they were done by the students themselves, with handmade paper garlands and tinsel everywhere. These decorations are a mixture of those seen in the first and fourth films and definitely look like a warm and welcoming Christmas in Gryffindor Tower.
We found that the Burrow has also had a Christmas makeover. Ginny, an appropriately named staff member, told us more about the set, explaining that the half-eaten turkey on the side table was originally an actual turkey that the cast was told to eat before a resin cast was taken off the remnants, leaving an incredibly lifelike and hunger-inducing dish on show.
When walking around the building, make sure you stop to ask the staff about the sets. The audio tour with Tom Felton is brilliant, but asking the interactors adds a new dimension of detail to the already-packed experience.
The final addition to the tour is in Diagon Alley, where the SFX department has set out Harry’s footprints in the snow from Hogsmeade in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. All we see are Harry’s footprints appearing as he walks hidden under the cloak, and these are actually animatronic! Each footprint descends as you watch, one by one as if Harry were walking past.
Overall, the Christmas tour is even more magical than usual and well worth a visit. Thank you to Warner Bros. and the staff members who made our day so brilliant and thank you to the dedicated staff members who stayed up through the night after closing to make the special holiday makeover possible. It’s brilliant to see Harry’s world at Christmas.