A fandom mecca, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter is the ultimate monument to the biggest movie series of all time and a must for every Harry Potter fan. Step in and get immersed in colossal studios where all eight of the Potter films were shot is an astonishing collection of props, costumes, and sets that will amaze even the most apathetic of visitors. Opening in Spring 2012, in under a year it had over a million visitors and these numbers are far from dwindling. Situated just a 20-minute train ride from London, adults can visit for £35 and under-16-year-olds, with packages available for families. Tickets must be booked in advance. An audio guide is available to hire, narrated by Draco Malfoy actor, Tom Felton. At the end of the tour is a gift shop that includes a number of items exclusive to the tour.
After this comes the backlot, where tourists can pose with the Ford Anglia, Sirius's bike, and the Knight Bus before enjoying a refreshing butterbeer from one of the food and drink stalls available. The next few sections offer a more detailed explanation of the production process including Creature Effects, the Arts Department, and the Model Room, with Diagon Alley sandwiched in between. The pièce de résistance is the breathtaking hand-sculpted 1:24 scale construction of Hogwarts followed up by thousands of wand boxes, each labeled with a cast or crew member from the film series. The tour ends at the gift shop.
Council for Learning Outside the Classroom 2020
Learning Outside the Classroom Quality Badge
EuroShop RetailDesign Award 2020
Retail Design: Lumsden Design
British Youth Travel Awards 2019
Best Schools Programme
PETA Travel Awards 2019
Cruelty-Free Travel Award
School Travel Awards 2019
Best Venue for English Learning
School Travel Awards 2018
Best Venue for English Learning
Sandford Award 2017
School Travel Awards 2017
Best Venue for English Learning
Feb 13–25, 2015
Feb 14–24, 2014
May 25–Jun 2, 2013
This event saw animal actors from the films visit the Studio Tour accompanied by head animal trainer Julie Tottman, who helped "create the performances" of more than 250 live creatures throughout all eight Harry Potter films. Visitors had the chance to watch demonstrations and learn more about the animals and their trainers.
Featured were cats that played Crookshanks and Mrs. Norris, the toad that played Neville Longbottom’s pet, Trevor, and an owl that played Hedwig.
There were also demonstrations from animals who were trained like the animals in the films, including rats trained like "Scabbers" and a Neapolitan mastiff trained like "Fang."
In 2015, trainers held flight displays with owls on the backlot and guests had the chance to take photos with an owl who played Hedwig outside Privet Drive.
Back to School
Sep 10–20, 2015
Sep 6–26, 2013
In honor of the back-to-school season, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London offered special filmmaking workshops. Visitors to the Studio Tour not only enjoyed seeing all of the amazing sets and props from Harry Potter in person, but they were also able to take part in a variety of set design and storyboard workshops. Different opportunities included making white card models, creating storyboards, and learning about the specific camera and post-production techniques used to create the magical world of Harry Potter.
Additionally, the Studio Tour celebrated back-to-school by dressing a section of the Great Hall just as it was during the OWL examinations, as seen in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Staff members of the Tour donned authentic robes used in filming, and visitors were able to try on replica robes for themselves.
In 2013, the Studio Tour also gave a select group of 11-year-olds a very special back-to-school gift: the first school assembly to be held in the Great Hall.
Breakfast at Hogwarts
Aug 20 and 27, 2017
Aug 21 and 28, 2016
Guests of this event got to go into the Studio Tour before it opened to general visitors one day to explore, drink butterbeer on the backlot, and have breakfast at Hogwarts.
At the first event, drinks and breakfast canapés were served in front of the Hogwarts Castle model, but in 2017 they changed that to being in the Great Hall itself.
Visitors were encouraged to take photos with staff members dressed in Hogwarts robes and in 2016 a group photograph was taken and given to each of them along with a guidebook as a souvenir.
The Great Hall tables were even dressed for the occasion with wizarding breakfast foods like Pixie Puffs and Cheeri Owls.
In 2017, John Richardson (Potter special effects supervisor) attended and demonstrated how he and his colleagues made the door to the Chamber of Secrets. Costume designer Laurent Guinci, who worked on Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Goblet of Fire, and Order of the Phoenix, was also there and helped guests step into Professor Slughorn’s armchair suit for a unique photo opportunity.
A Celebration of Slytherin
May 17–Sep 15, 2021
Aug 20–Nov 4, 2020
A Celebration of Slytherin shines a spotlight on all things Slytherin. This event allows Harry Potter fans to celebrate a Slytherin victory of the House Cup in the Great Hall. It is complete with a grand feast and original banners from the film series.
During the special feature, a 25-foot-high section of the iconic set is on display, furnished, and dressed with authentic props. When stepping into the Great Hall, visitors are greeted by a sea of green House banners from the film series suspended from the enchanted ceiling, denoting a Slytherin victory of the House Cup.
A number of original costumes belonging to the Malfoy family are on display, allowing visitors to see how the designs changed to depict their rise and fall in power and status alongside Lord Voldemort.
Christmas Dinner in the Great Hall
Dec 13-15, 2021
Dec 9–11, 2019
Dec 10–12, 2018
Dec 11–13, 2017
Dec 7–8, 2016
Dec 3, 2015
Since 2015, the Studio Tour has been hosting enormously successful Christmas dinners every year.
As part of its Hogwarts in the Snow feature, sets throughout the Tour are decorated for the festive season with Christmas trees, fake snow, and more. The first two courses of the meal are eaten by guests in the Great Hall, but dessert is served on platform nine and three-quarters.
As well as the main meal, drinks and canapés are served beforehand and butterbeer can be found at the Backlot Café.
All visitors can explore the Tour while they’re there before ending the night with dancing.
In earlier years, the ticket included the chance to pick a wand to take home.
The event is restricted to those aged 18 and above.
Sep 23–Nov 6, 2022
Sep 24–Nov 7, 2021
Sep 27–Nov 10, 2019
Sep 28–Nov 10, 2018
Oct 1–Nov 12, 2017
Oct 16–Nov 1, 2016
Original opening: Oct 14, 2014
What began as a week-long event celebrating Halloween each year is now a feature spread across the whole of October and beyond; Diagon Alley plunges into shadows, and Death Eaters patrol the Studio Tour prepared to duel with passing visitors.
In 2017, prop makers who worked on the films created over 100 pumpkins (in place of the CGI ones from the movie), and they now “float” over a Halloween feast on the Studio Tour’s Great Hall set during every “Dark Arts” feature.
Death Eater costumes are put on display while staff runs demonstrations of how to make troll snot, unicorn blood, and Fluffy’s drool.
In 2018, on one of the weekends during the feature, exclusive evening viewings were held and christened a “Celebration of Costume.” Guests were encouraged to dress as their favorite Harry Potter characters, and there were giveaways and exclusive photo opportunities - including sitting at a real Great Hall table laid for a Halloween feast. Visitors received a free digital download of their image to remember the evening.
In 2021, the Dark Arts feature focused on the symbol of Lord Voldemort and his Death Eaters. The Dark Mark was projected throughout the Studio Tour for fans to follow on their visit. Visitors could collect a Studio Tour passport on arrival and go on the hunt for the Dark Mark. In addition to this, visitors were also invited to learn the moves behind a wand combat scene in a live duel with Death Eaters.
Hogwarts After Dark
Oct 9-8, 2021
Oct 25–27, 2019
Oct 26–28, 2018
Oct 27–29, 2017
In 2017, following the success of its Christmas- and Valentine’s-themed dinners, the Studio Tour started hosting dinners when the Great Hall set is dressed for Halloween.
On arrival, guests are treated to smoking dry ice cocktails and canapés before dining under the pumpkins that "float" above the Great Hall tables. Guests then take a lantern and venture into the Forbidden Forest in search of dessert.
In 2018, original prop makers who worked on the series attended to explain how they recreated the film’s CGI floating pumpkins as physical props for the Studio Tour.
Throughout the evening, Death Eaters roam the attraction wearing original costumes from the films and Wand Choreographer Paul Harris is on hand to train visitors to engage these servants of the Dark Lord in duels.
The evening finishes with butterbeer in the Backlot Café and a walk through the gloomily lit Diagon Alley.
In 2019, a red carpet guided guests into the Great Hall, which was fully transformed for Halloween. There were floating pumpkins, red apples, and cauldrons of lollipops.
A spooky cocktail and canapé reception preceded dinner. After the meal, guests explored the Studio Tour and then followed a lantern trail to the Forbidden Forest, where they enjoyed delicious desserts.
Before the night concluded, they walked through a darkened Diagon Alley.
The event was restricted to those aged 18 and above.
Hogwarts in the Snow
Nov 12, 2022–Jan 15, 2023
Nov 13, 2021–Jan 16, 2022
Dec 3, 2020–Dec 15, 2020
Nov 16, 2019–Jan 26, 2020
Nov 17, 2018–Jan 27, 2019
Nov 18, 2017–Jan 28, 2018
Nov 19, 2016–Jan 29, 2017
Nov 13, 2015–Jan 31, 2016
Nov 14, 2014–Feb 2, 2015
Dec 15, 2013–Feb 2, 2014
The ever-popular Hogwarts in the Snow returns each festive season. The huge scale model of Hogwarts is dusted with "snow" and numerous sets are dressed for Christmas. On-theme costumes like Weasley jumpers and Luna's dress for Slughorn's party are put on display.
While every Hogwarts in the Snow has seen a Christmas feast on the Great Hall's tables and trees lining the walls, since 2017, the stage in the Great Hall has also been decorated as it was for the Yule Ball.
Special effects fire (water vapor + lighting effects) "burn" in fireplaces in the Leaky Cauldron, Great Hall, and other places throughout the Tour. Plus, visitors are able to get their hands on different kinds of fake snow and learn what they're all used for.
The 2015/16 feature was the first time the Studio Tour had special effects experts rig the Goblet of Fire to emerge from its original jeweled casket and "ignite" with color-changing flames, as seen in the Goblet of Fire.
In 2020, the Studio Tour extended its wintry makeover to include Diagon Alley too, covering the set in fake snow and decking the shops with Christmas decorations. Fans will know Diagon Alley never appeared like this in the movies, but the same set was used for the snowy Hogsmeade scenes in Prisoner of Azkaban.
The Forbidden Forest was transformed into a winter wonderland in 2021. This was the first time that the Forest was a part of Hogwarts in the Snow since it was added to the Studio Tour in 2017.
Introducing the Art Department
Feb 14–24, 2020
Feb 9–25, 2019
Feb 9–19, 2018
A newer feature at the Studio Tour, Introducing the Art Department showcases the artistry that went into the Harry Potter films. Demonstrations of a range of filmmaking techniques are held by some of the original members of the art department, including the team who created thousands of wands during the ten years of filming.
For the inaugural 2018 feature, exclusive videos were recorded with Potter production designer Stuart Craig introducing each area of the art department.
Valentine's Dinner in the Great Hall
Feb 11–13, 2022
Feb 14–16, 2020
Feb 14–16, 2019
Feb 9–10, 2018
Feb 11–12, 2017
Feb 13–14, 2016
Each year, the Studio Tour hosts two or three dinners in the Great Hall for couples celebrating Valentine's Day.
Guests are welcomed with canapés and drinks – including a “Love Potion” cocktail – before being served a three-course meal. A souvenir photo is taken of every couple and for the first couple of years, the diners found wands waiting for them at their tables.
Everyone is then free to explore the studio Tour, and explore landmark areas of the wizarding world, including the trademark Hogwarts Express locomotive which will be set up on platform nine and three-quarters. GuestsJune 20 will also have the opportunity to view costumes of couples from the Harry Potter films, as well as the chance to enjoy butterbeer at the Backlot Café and drinks on platform nine and three-quarters. At the close of the evening, tea, coffee, and petit fours are served by the Hogwarts Castle model.
The event is restricted to those aged 18 and above.
Mandrakes and Magical Creatures (Jul 1–Sep 12, 2022)
For the first time ever, the Studio Tour London is opening the glass doors of Professor Sprout’s greenhouse. Built by the original Harry Potter filmmakers, the greenhouse is home to many exotic and magical plants. To celebrate the permanent addition of the greenhouse to the Studio Tour London, Mandrakes and Magical Creatures will open on the same day and run for the rest of summer. This feature will include Cornish Pixies, Dumbledore’s beloved Fawkes, and the animatronic Monster Book of Monsters. In addition, visitors will be greeted in the Great Hall by the Hogwarts Frog Choir and learn how Thestrals and Mandrakes were brought to life using a mixture of scale models and CGI in the Creatures Workshop.
The Herbology greenhouse is not the only new permanent addition as new pieces, including a 1:3 scale version of the Weasleys’ Burrow, are also being added to the backlot.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London's Magical Mischief explored the filmmaking techniques behind the mischievous moments of the Harry Potter films on the big screen and uncovered how the films' special effects team brought magical mishaps to life. As part of the Marauder's Map activity passport, visitors found Cornish pixies all around the Studio Tour and collected stamps.
To celebrate its 20th anniversary on November 16, 2021, the first Harry Potter film was screened at the Studio Tour on four consecutive nights. Visitors were able to explore the film's famous sets and grab a mug of butterbeer before returning to the Great Hall in the evening for the special exclusive screening.
The final screening on November 22 was adapted specifically for autistic visitors, with accommodations to reduce stress and sensory input.
Tickets were priced at £99 (£69 for children) and included a butterbeer drink or ice cream, a hot meal from the café, one soft or alcoholic drink from the café, a “movie treat” from the Honeydukes trolley, and entrance to the Studio Tour.
Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore Screenings (Apr 8–11, 2022)
The opening weekend of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore brought with it the chance to attend a special screening of the film at its production home: Leavesden Studios.
Fans were able to purchase a package that included admittance into Warner Bros. Studio Tour London along with a souvenir green screen photo, a meal at the Backlot Café, and a snack to enjoy during the screening. Also, each showing of the movie included an introduction by the head of the department prop maker, Pierre Bohanna, along with a Q&A.
Tickets cost £149.
Behind the Seams (May 26, 2018–Dec 31, 2019)
Behind the Seams offered the opportunity to uncover the secrets of the Harry Potter costume department. Tour experts guided visitors through the process of creating 25,000 items of clothing that were made for the films - from sketches to finished outfits.
Behind the Seams took place in a workshop environment, where visitors were able to view costumes never before seen at the Studio Tour. Each experience finished with the exclusive chance to try on Hogwarts robes (in the different Hogwarts House colors) that appeared on-screen during the Harry Potter films.
Tickets were £65 (£55 for children) and included entrance to the Studio Tour.
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald Screenings (Nov 17–19, 2018)
The opening weekend of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald brought with it the chance to attend one of five special screenings of the film at its production home - Leavesden Studios.
Those attending got the chance to see the whole Tour in the opening days of 2018's Hogwarts in the Snow feature. They were also some of the first to view new displays of costumes and props from Crimes of Grindelwald.
Complimentary hot food and butterbeer were served at the Backlot Café, and there was time to grab a drink and snack just before settling down to watch the hotly anticipated Fantastic Beasts sequel at the end of the Tour.
Each screening was introduced by Pierre Bohanna, who has been the head prop maker on every wizarding world film.
Tickets cost £149.
Harry Potter Quiz Dinner in the Great Hall (Jul 5, 12, and 19, 2018)
The Studio Tour hosted three Harry Potter quiz nights right on the Great Hall set. Competitors were able to explore the full Tour and enjoy a meal (with butterbeer) at the Backlot Café before returning to the Great Hall for a quiz covering, among other things, magical artifacts, Defense Against the Dark Arts, Potions, and Care of Magical Creatures.
Teams competed against each other to win a collection of exclusive Warner Bros. Studio Tour London goodies. The teams were of between six and 12 people. People could book tickets as a team or be allocated to one on the night.
Tickets were £65 per person and were available to those aged 16 and above.
Goblet of Fire (Mar 30–Sep 23, 2018)
For five months, the Studio Tour celebrated Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
The Goblet of Fire prop, which Pierre Bohanna and the prop-making department carved from a single piece of wood, returned to the Great Hall for the first time since it was used in filming. Plus, there were live demonstrations showing the filmmaking magic behind how pieces of parchment were propelled from the Goblet.
Costumes from the film, including those of Barty Crouch, Jr. and the Weasley twins, were also on display.
Wizarding Wardrobes (Jul 21–Sep 27, 2017)
Thousands of costumes were created for the eight Harry Potter films, from Hermione's gorgeous Yule Ball gown to the intricate masks of the Death Eaters. Costume designer Judianna Makovsky was even nominated for an Academy Award for her work on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone.
During the Wizarding Wardrobes feature, visitors were able to admire the incredible craftsmanship that went into costumes never before seen at the Tour.
There was the chance to discover how clothes are transformed from brand new to centuries-old or battle-torn and to find out more about the journey a costume goes through, from initial design to finished article. They also saw an all-new demonstration of "Professor Slughorn's armchair suit."
Directing Dobby (Feb 4–Mar 31, 2017)
This feature gave visitors the opportunity to discover the behind-the-scenes secrets of everybody’s favorite house-elf.
They could find out more about the CGI magic and filmmaking wizardry used to bring Dobby to life - from a tennis ball on a stick to a detailed, full-size model - and got to try out a new, interactive experience where motion capture technology was demonstrated by Dobby copying their movements.
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them Screenings (Nov 18–20, 2016)
The weekend of the film’s release, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London hosted special screenings of the next chapter in the wizarding world.
Screenings were held November 18–20, and special packages, priced at £145, were required for entry. The screening packages included:
- Studio Tour with specially created souvenir ticket
- Butterbeer served in a souvenir tankard
- Choice of hot food and a glass of wine, beer, or soft drink in the Backlot Café
- Complimentary souvenir green screen photograph
- Ticket to screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in theaters
- A bag of candy or popcorn to enjoy in the theater
- Choice of wine, beer, hot drink, or soft drink in the Studio lobby to enjoy in the theater
- Souvenir guidebook
- Return shuttle to Watford Junction Station
It was definitely a special opportunity to watch the movie on location where it was filmed, with props and costumes from the film on display just a few feet away.
Fifteenth Anniversary Film Celebrations (Oct 15–Nov 4, 2016)
In a final celebration of 15 years since the cinematic release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, the Studio Tour brought back fans' favorite props and costumes as voted for on social media.
These included Hagrid’s deconstructed costume from this year’s half-giant Hagrid feature and an interactive special effects "UP" broomstick. The Great Hall set was dressed for Halloween and featured Professor Quirrell's costume.
It was the last chance to see the original Sorting Hat and stool in the Great Hall as well as the interior set of number four, Privet Drive since this was re-opened specially for the 15th-anniversary celebrations.
Finding the Philosopher's Stone (Jul 22–Sep 5, 2016)
In honor of the 15th anniversary of the first Harry Potter film, the Studio Tour celebrated the quest Harry, Ron, and Hermione undertake at the end of the film to protect the Stone.
Visitors could discover how the giant chess pieces were made to move and how Fluffy was brought to life. A moving display of Devil's Snare was also exhibited for the first time.
September Screenings (Sep 19–29, 2015)
The Studio Tour announced that a series of screenings would be taking place in September 2015. The films were screened over a week, starting on September 19 with Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and ending on September 26 with Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
Tickets included entry to the Tour itself, as well as a butterbeer, a hot snack, a soft drink, and popcorn – and of course entry to the film itself.
Sweets and Treats (Jul 20–Sep 6, 2015)
Exhibition looking at how the food seen in the films was made.
MuggleNet represented by Laura Louise Rafferty
Hogwarts Express Launch (Mar 17, 2015)
Official launch of the Hogwarts Express feature. Special guests included Warner Bros. CEO Kevin Tsujihara.
MuggleNet represented by Sophie Reid
Hogwarts Express Preview (Mar 3, 2015)
Preview of the Hogwarts Express feature.
MuggleNet represented by Sophie Reid
Bludgers and Broomsticks (Jul 18–Sep 1, 2014)
Exhibition profiling the games and sports in the Harry Potter films
MuggleNet represented by Sophie Reid
Summer Screenings (Jul 7–Aug 26, 2014)
In the summer of 2014, there were special screenings of all eight Potter films. The film screenings took place each Monday and Tuesday beginning on July 7 and ran for eight weeks through August 26. From the press release:
[V]isitors to these exclusive screenings [began] by exploring the Studio Tour (which include[d] a chance to taste butterbeer) before grabbing a hot snack, popcorn and a drink and then settling down in the Studio Tour’s cinema to watch their chosen film.
The dates for each film screening were as follows:
July 7 & 8: Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone
July 14 & 15: Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
July 21 & 22: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
July 28 & 29: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
August 4 & 5: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
August 11 & 12: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
August 18 & 19: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1
August 25 & 26: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
A week before the Summer Screenings began, the Studio Tour held a VIP screening of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. The event was attended by Potter alumnus Warwick Davis, along with other celebrities, including Idris Elba, James Buckley, Jonathan Ross, Jill Halfpenny, and Jamelia.
Guests were also treated to a VIP tour of the studios, during which actor Idris Elba confessed that if he could play any Potter character, he would choose Hagrid.
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Second Anniversary (Mar 28–30, 2014)
To kick off its second year, from March 28 to March 30, 2014, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter featured special guests Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima.
Ahead of the weekend, Warner Bros. described the event thus:
To celebrate our second anniversary, graphic designers Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima will be on hand at the Studio Tour to demonstrate the creative processes they used to develop the graphic style of the Harry Potter film series. You’ll be able to take a closer look at some of the iconic graphics they created, including issues of the Daily Prophet, the Marauder’s Map, fanciful Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes products, and wickedly enchanting books.
Ghostly Goings-On (Oct 19–Nov 3, 2013)
A two-week feature timed to coincide with Halloween. Among other spooky additions, costumes of the ghosts in the series were displayed in the Great Hall and staff showed visitors how to make troll bogies, three-headed dog saliva, and shimmering unicorn blood.
MuggleNet represented by Rosie Morris
Summer Spells (Jul 26–Sep 2, 2013)
In summer 2013, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter invited visitors to delve into the world of spellcasting, potions, and wizard duels as it hosted its first Summer Spells feature. Visitors discovered first-hand how spells such as the Levitation Charm came to life on screen and how the wand movements that accompanied them were developed.
Knowledgeable staff members were on hand to teach wand battle choreography, aided by an interactive experience created by choreography expert Paul Harris. Paul composed the battle scene between Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes) in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and is the world’s only wand combat choreographer.
Those exploring Diagon Alley were able to take part in a special effects demonstration created by BAFTA-winning special effects supervisor John Richardson. By pointing a wand, visitors were able to cast a spell that made the sign above Potage’s Cauldron Shop bang and flash as if by magic.
In scenes where a character conjured his or her Patronus – a protective charm that usually takes the form of an animal and shields the wizard against Dementors – actors such as Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter, whose Patronus was a stag) and Emma Watson (Hermione Granger, who casts an otter Patronus) had to use their imagination; Patronuses were created post-filming using CGI. The cast was, however, aided by an Irish wolfhound dressed in a specially made costume, which helped them visualize the glowing effect of a Patronus. This was on display at the Studio Tour for the first time throughout the Summer Spells feature.
- In the first and second films, the wands looked quite plain. This was drastically changed in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban when the wands were given distinctive shapes and carvings, reflecting the owners’ personalities. For example, the wand of Professor Slughorn (Jim Broadbent) is inlaid with silver slug trails and has a slug-shaped handle.
- Some of the cast of the Harry Potter film series had their own ideas about how their characters’ wands should look. Actor Ralph Fiennes said he wanted Voldemort’s wand to look like an evil finger pointing off into the distance; this influence can be seen in the wand he used on-screen, which appears to be made of bone.
- Over the course of the films the prop team created thousands of wands. Rumor has it they never lost a single one – though Daniel Radcliffe wore out over 60 wands during the making of the film series.
- Hundreds of potion jars line the walls of the Potions classroom, which can be seen at the Studio Tour. Among the ingredients kept in them are plastic animals from a zoo gift shop, baked animal bones from a local butcher shop, and dried leaves and herbs.
One-Year Anniversary (Mar 31, 2013)
The WB Studio Tour celebrated its first anniversary with a series of surprises for visitors, including great giveaways and extra experiences that took place at the attraction from Monday March 18 to Sunday April 14, 2013.
Studio Tour highlights since the Grand Opening:
- The first person to visit the Studio Tour was a four-year-old boy named Harry and the millionth visitor was a nine-year-old boy from the appropriately-named town of Dudley.
- The longest distance travelled to the Studio Tour by a visitor to date is over 11,000 miles. This particular person came all the way from New Zealand.
- The longest time a visitor has spent in one day at the attraction so far is 10 hours.
- Over 20 members of the Studio Tour staff worked on the Harry Potter film series as costume makers, extras, chaperones and/or members of the tech and catering teams.
- The Great Hall doors have opened more than 14,000 times since the Studio Tour began, and each group of visitors has been greeted with the words “Welcome to Hogwarts!”
- The number of wands sold by Warner Bros. Studio Tour London since opening would, if stacked end to end, be taller than 7,000 triple-decker Knight Buses.
MuggleNet represented by Claire Furner
Grand Opening (Mar 31, 2012)
The Grand Opening of the Studio Tour was a red carpet event attended by:
- Rupert Grint - Ronald Weasley
- Tom Felton - Draco Malfoy
- Bonnie Wright - Ginny Weasley
- Evanna Lynch - Luna Lovegood
- Warwick Davis - Professor Flitwick/Griphook
- David Thewlis - Remus Lupin
- Helen McCrory - Narcissa Malfoy
- George Harris - Kingsley Shacklebolt
- Nick Moran - Scabior
- Natalia Tena - Nymphadora Tonks
- David Bradley - Argus Filch
- David Heyman - Producer
- David Baron - Producer
- David Yates - Director (OOTP, HBP, DH pt 1, DH pt 2)
- Alfonso Cuarón - Director (POA)
- Mike Newell - Director (GOF)
MuggleNet represented by Kat Miller
This Wand Week was a special one indeed. The focus seemed to be on how wands were designed. The Studio Tour ran a contest for fans to design their own wand. The winning wand would then be made a reality. The winning wand was a beautiful creation with leaves on the handle and a colorful phoenix feather wrapped around the entire wand.
As I watched one of the wand designers carve this creation, I started chatting with another one of the staff about how the design for each character’s wand was decided on. He told me that the film directors (starting with Alfonso Cuarón, who decided that each character should have a personalized wand) would meet with the design team and determine what kind of character they were dealing with; for example, the twins are fun-loving, Voldemort’s has a strong connection to death, etc. The design team would then come up with a drawing they thought fit that character.
This design was submitted to J.K. Rowling, who would approve of the wand or send it back for redesigning. This staff member (who was very helpful and insightful) also noted that the trio (Harry, Ron, and Hermione) were all given very organic-looking wands to symbolize their purity. Harry’s looks as if it has just been carved from a tree; in fact, it looks like it is growing from the handle. Ron’s is similar but is cut rougher, with more distinct divots. Hermione’s is the most put together, daintily carved with vines. Each of these wands obviously reflects its owner’s character!
As I watched the crafting of the winning wand, it was clear just how much time and effort went into creating the beautiful detail of every wand for the films. Once again, it shows the detail and care that went into the making of these films.
Always seeking to best themselves, the WB Studio's latest feature is a real treat to behold. Established in time for the British Easter holidays, Feathers and Flight takes you behind the scenes on the series' delights and once again, MuggleNet were given the opportunity to take a look around.
The Great Hall, the tour's grand beginning, has been decked out with a cracking Hogwarts breakfast, laden with toast, jugs of orange juice, and boxes of Cheeri Owls and ready for the morning owl post. Across the hall, hovering above a Ravenclaw costume, is one of the brooms ridden by the twins during their spectacular escape from the Umbridge regime in the Order of the Phoenix.
Further into Soundstage J is a small feature on Rita Skeeter and her Quick Quotes Quill. Perched on a notepad, the details of this animatronic device are explained in a fabulously dated video - judging by Matt Lewis and Tom Felton's chosen hairstyles! However, it does detail the three-week building process for the device and demonstrate how it was controlled, which is quite similar to that behind a remote control car.
The rest of the sound stage is largely unchanged. However such is the magic of this exhibition, that you are never quite sure if certain items are genuinely new or you simply missed them last time. I, for one, am convinced that I have never seen the Inquisitorial Squad badge on Draco Malfoy's costume before or the intriguing bird skull necklace on the Bellatrix mannequin.
Outside in the backlot, Feathers and Flight truly comes alive as you are introduced to some of the film's animal actors. Once again, a handsome white owl is perched atop the Privet Drive sign, ready for selfies with Hedwig! Sandwiched in-between Privet Drive and the Potter's Godric's Hollow cottage, are a series of flying demos. Taking place every half an hour, they are worth any time spent waiting.
First up is a large eagle owl, one of the two used in the films. Sixteen years of age and 2kg in weight, the owl did its best to demonstrate its movie training. The trick, taking a letter in its beak and delivering to the trainer a few feet away, can take up to six months to teach and a week to forget. This dimwittedness is in stark comparison to the next featured performer, a raven. These lethal-looking birds can learn the same tricks as an owl in just a week. The raven present appeared to be closer in& behavior to a dog, than any bird we had previously witnessed. It fetched sticks when thrown for it and even jumped a few inches in the air when commanded. To finish up the session up, a charming little tawny owl was brought out, dozing gracefully on its trainer's arm.
Moving into sound stage K and Potter featherologist, Val Jones, and her team are on hand to demonstrate the feather-making process. Using real goose feathers, each feather is dyed (yellow for Fawkes, grey for Buckbeak, etc.) before the details are individually painted by handed. The feathers are then trimmed to the appropriate size and sewn onto a stretching fabric, giving the illusion of a living animal once placed on the animatronic substitute. Given this detailed approach, the creation of these models for the Harry Potter films was a lengthy process: the owls took around a month, three Buckbeaks took 8 weeks, whilst three Fawkes tool the best part of five months. Still, a spectacular site when complete. But all too soon it is time to leave, although not before stocking up on Peppermint Toads from the shop.
Feathers and Flight is a brilliant addition to the existing exhibition and will be appreciated by new and previous attendees alike. It is also a thrilling reminder of just how much care and attention went into making these films, instilling yet more enthusiasm for what is in store with the Fantastic Beasts films.
Feathers and Flight continues until April 27th, 2014 whilst Wand Week will run from May 23rd to June 2nd.
Report by MuggleNet Staff Member, Claire Furner
The WB Studio Tour is always a fantastic day out but during school holidays they pull out all the stops to make a child's dreams come true. For fans, this means extra behind-the-scenes information and fun-filled interactivity that brings the magic alive alongside the regular superb tour. This week it's Wand Week, with a variety of wand-themed activities around the site. At the entrance you'll find a host to the tour explaining that there are special adventures you will see this week only, helping to build the excitement before you go near the tour itself.
When I visited shortly before Christmas last year, the holiday decorations made the expansive buildings look festive and homely. The tour stayed closed for two extra days over the holiday taking these decorations down and using the time to fix up the regular tour to cast 'Scourgify' and 'Reparo' on a few items and make it look perfect for the movie-loving visitors. This included taking a layer of dust from Hogwarts castle so the fantastic set looks like a beautiful and colorful castle in spring rather than hidden under slight snow – much like the rest of the country. It is now looking lovely so well done to everyone who worked as hard as house-elves over the break.
Additional areas in this week's tour include an extended workstation beside the usual 'wand wheel' where a wand crafter from the films is on hand to explain how each of the three types of wand are made. You can watch as a wooden wand is carved, see the moulds used to create resin versions and see the rubber wands that are less likely to cause damage if someone attacks you with Expelliarmus! Each character had their own wand design, which was influenced by the actors themselves, so look out for your favorite and see if you can find links to their characters.
Further along, you'll find a brilliant interactive station where Paul Harris, the wand choreographer from the films, will teach you the five principal movements in any wizards' duel. You can then test what you've learned if you come across one of the super-scary Death Eaters that are stalking the grounds. If you don't take part yourself, do take the time to watch as there's nothing better than the smiles on children's faces as they learn the stances and flicks for their own magical battles.
In Diagon Alley, you can see Ollivander's robes on display in the doorway of his shop and find out how the wands you've seen be created were used alongside the special effects within the films. From light-up tips to full bulbs that can light Harry, the Map, and an entire corridor in Prisoner of Azkaban, the SFX team has set up magical effects that mean a lucky few can cast their own spell with a swish and a flick right there by Gringotts Bank.
If you get a chance to see the tour this week, I hope you have a magical experience as I did, and if not the standard tour is a must-see for any Potter fan and should not be missed!
A very big thank you to Rowena, Emily, and the rest of the fantastic Studio Tour team!
Report by MuggleNet Staff Member, Rosie Morris
Will Dunn's (James Sirius Potter) Report
So on Sunday, I went back to Leavesden Studios (Now Warner Bros Studios Leavesden I guess...) with some of the other Potterkids (yes, that's what we call each other) to see the WB Studio Tour. IT'S ACTUALLY REALLY GOOD. That probably sounds like a shameless plug or something, but it genuinely is.
Seeing the studios again after nearly two years was very, very odd; the place has completely changed, which for film crews and tour-goers is great, it was definitely a little strange for me personally though, even though I only shot there for a week.
SO THE TOUR ITSELF. I don't want to give away too many spoilers... hmm. Well, for starters, there's a really cool-looking café at the start. That's not too spoiler-y, right? I ended up waiting at said café for a while; Ryan (Hugo) Ellie (Lily, Harry's mama, not daughter), and Ben (Young Sev!) had booked an earlier slot, and Helena (Rose) had gotten stuck somewhere in central London, thus I waited with a Sprite, people watching, as you do. So I now hold fond memories of that café, I recommend it, etc etc.
We started the first part of the tour by opening the huge doors into the Great Hall, and then the hangar after that had a huge collection of various sets from the series, which are just amazing to see in person, the amount of detail, and the obvious amount of effort that the set designers put into them, is just incredible. So props to them for that (did you see what I did there?!). There are parts of the Ministry of Magic set too, that especially took me back to when I did Potter; we all did our first rehearsal on that set, with the trio and David Yates, and all the crew. I remember being blown away by the size of it, not to mention the fact I was even there. I guess that was a reminder of how lucky I was to be part of it.
There's a part that involves brooms and green screens... I say no more.
And then, the tour continues onward, but OUTSIDE. Yes, you heard me. OUTSIDE. And what could possibly make this outside-ness better? Butterbeer. And Hagrid's Bike. And the Knight Bus. Helena and I decided to hijack Hagrid's Bike, I got a little concerned I wasn't gonna get out of the sidecar after I got in, but I just about squeezed out.
So then, assuming you've finished your butterbeer (taking drinks indoors is a nono), we proceed onwards again to, if I recall correctly, GOBLINS. And SPIDERS. My mum got especially scared by the spiders. YAY. I believe I saw Warwick Davis' face in a mould somewhere too.
It was pretty crazy seeing all the different sections, and thinking of the sheer amount of people that worked on the films. I think the number that worked on DH was around 2000.
I'm trying not to make this too much of a walkthrough, I have a feeling I'm failing. Oh well. This pic speaks for itself! Yes, it was huge.
Then the wand boxes. To sum it up, pretty much everyone that played a part in the making of the films, no matter what they did to contribute, got a wand box, which are all in this section. I think this is a really cool touch, so often crew members get a place on the credits (or not even that) and that's it, cheers, you're done, bye! But here, the wand boxes give them the extra recognition that they definitely deserve. And let's be honest, having a wand named after you is more than cool.
Seeing my own box was great too! Thankyouthankyouthankyou to Hannah who spotted Helena and me and showed them to us. And thanks for putting up with my requests for Jenny Harling and Jonny Greenwood, her knowledge of where they all are is pretty impressive... as is the enthusiasm of all the people that work there.
And then, that was it. Worth it? Oh yus. The interactivity is so good, and it was a nice little nostalgic Potter top-up for me (I need one every now and again, don't we all?). I think (and hope) I can speak for the other kiddies in saying that we all loved it; we met up afterward for a meal and were raving about it.
Oh, I couldn’t resist doing this either.
Ellie Darcey-Alden's (Young Lily Evans) Report
I think that my studio tour was absolutely amazing; it was a totally awesome adventure. My favorite part was either seeing the mini version of the Hogwarts Castle, riding on the broomsticks, or standing in the Great Hall again, I can't really decide which because they were all so fantastic. Standing in the Great Hall made me feel proud because I remembered being under the Sorting Hat, riding the broomstick was just so cool because I had never really done it before, and as for the miniature castle... well you have to see it to believe it, I think it should be the 8th Wonder of the world. Oh and I also loved finding the Wand Box with my name on it in the Wand room, I can't believe it really...
Everything was mind-blowing, from art sketches to mechanical beasts like Aragog. It was mesmerising to see ALL of the sets and props they used from the first film all the way to the last. All of the crew put so much effort into the making; they had to make sure that every minor detail was correct like every strand of hair on the Goblins to every one of Buckbeak's feathers. It is totally incredible to think that all of this originated from the imagination of J.K. Rowling... Wow completely mind-blowing!!!
I recommend a visit to everyone, I think they should go and experience this wicked adventure.
Keith Hawk's MuggleNet Review
Fan Report by Josée Leblanc
Around this time 10 years ago, I was "forced" to discover the Harry Potter books because I was teaching twin girls reading comprehension and that's the series they were both reading. Over the last decade, I've discovered the online fandom, made countless Harry Potter related crafts (costumes, photo albums, a scrapbook, cards, Ravenclaw swimwear, etc.) and created a Yahoo! Group on the subject, been to four conventions (Convention Alley in 2004 and 2008, Lumos in 2006, and LeakyCon last summer), visited the Harry Potter: The Exhibition in Toronto and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida, bought Harry Potter books in languages I neither read nor speak, to name only a few. Yet nothing compares to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, which I was lucky enough to visit before its official opening on Friday, March 23. I'm sure I must have overdosed on Felix Felicis for this to happen to me.
Getting to the Studio Tour was very smooth and easy. We took the underground, then the train from platform 9 at Euston Station (I think they dropped the 3/4 so Muggles wouldn't get suspicious) to Watford Junction. We then experienced our first wow moment when we saw the shuttle bus, painted with images of the Studio Tour, which you can see, poster-sized, throughout London these days. It was clear that it wasn't Ernie behind the wheel, as the drive was smooth and very enjoyable.
The two buildings housing the WB Studio tour, named "Studio J" and "Studio K", are positively huge when viewed from the outside. Seeing them, you will hardly be able to contain yourself and will want to rush inside to begin your journey. Once inside, you will get a bit of time to admire the entrance hall and its immense posters, as well as the very first props you will get to see (Harry and Ron's trunks, the flying Ford Anglia and a few others). After a brief wait in the queue, you will be ushered in a room with screens. To be honest, I can't talk much about what they showed us, because I hardly remember any of it. I was too excited for what was to come. Once we left that room, we were taken to a movie theatre with very comfortable seats, and watched a short film with the trio, where they mentioned that 17,000 wand boxes were created and hand-labeled. My mind was blown for the first of what would be countless times that day.
When the movie finishes, you expect to be taken through the small door on your right to whatever is awaiting you next. Wrong! The screen actually lifts and *gasps* here they are, the Great Hall doors. Now if you think that you know what these will look like because you've watched the movies a million times, think again because you. are. wrong... and you're about to be proved wrong a million times over. The sheer amount of detail in these doors and in the Great Hall, in general, is incredible. In fact, I would almost compare it to the level of details I had witnessed the day before in Muggle London, on buildings like the House of Parliament and Westminster Abbey. The guide told us that when they filled the hourglasses counting the house points, it caused a shortage of beads in the UK, and I have no trouble believing it. The cylinders are a few inches in diameter and they are filled with seed beads; for those not familiar with them, they are about the size of a grain of rice... cut into four pieces.
Now, I really don't want to spoil too much here, but here's what you can expect to see in the first studio. First, there are dozens of costumes (accessories like shoes, gloves, and jewelry included) worn by the actors. Once again, you will be blown away by the number of details you see on them, from delicate embroideries to detailed beadwork, carefully frayed pants, and rich fabrics. I think the detail that impressed me the most was found on one of Umbridge's dresses: two little pink bows at the bottom of the dress are adorned with golden buttons.
So far, so good. Standing a few feet away, you think they look cute. Now take your camera and zoom in on them as much as you can. Doing that, you'll notice a sort of shape, and you'll think that they're cats. Then once you're back at home and zoom the picture using your computer, you'll notice that they're not cats, but tiny little golden skulls with diamonds for the eyes. Even costumes that are meant to look hideous on screen, like Ron's Yule Ball outfit, look so beautiful when you see them in person that you can't help but take a few moments admiring them in awe. A fair warning to all costumers and cosplayers out there: once you've seen the exhibit, the odds are you'll want to redo your whole costume so it looks exactly like the one you've just seen. I know that's how I felt after seeing the Beauxbâtons robes.
Then, there are the props, which I think I can accurately say there are thousands of Golden snitches, letters from no one, howlers, U-No-Poo and other WWW merchandise, the time-turner, Mad-Eye Moody and Lupin's trunk, wands, turkeys (yes, you read that right), books, Cherri Owls boxes, broomsticks, and much, much more.
Also, there are the sets, which, once again, will leave you speechless. Once again, the amount of details in them is unbelievable. Surely you remember that in Snape's dungeon/office, there is a sort of archway with words on it. We see it briefly and vaguely in the movies since the lighting there is meant to be rather dark. Well, that archway is actually made with copper leaf, which was hand applied. As for the potion ingredients jars, there are quite a few hundreds of them, and they each have a unique name, were hand-labeled and their content is all different. It's made from things like toy frogs that were ripped apart, then severely modified by the props crew to make them look unique. That much I was able to learn by speaking with the gentleman stationed in that area, whose name I unfortunately forgot. Be sure to use your legilimency powers on the staff. They are a wealth of information and you won't even need veritaserum to get them talking.
By that point, I had taken 600 pictures, and I actually stopped the paparazzi work, not because I wanted to, but because my camera battery died as I was snapping pictures of Umbridge's office. If only I could have blamed the short plump witch for killing a Muggle contraption like a digital camera, but nope! I was the one to blame on this one: I had forgotten to charge my battery the day before after visiting Muggle London. Please learn from my mistakes, and a) charge your camera, b) bring your battery charger and/or extra batteries, and c) if you're not from Europe, bring a plug adaptor. I was lucky that Keith had his own camera and a fully charged battery. I could still have kicked myself for my mistake, but at least I didn't go home picture less from part 2 and 3 of the Tour.
Part 2 of the tour takes place outside and you get to buy butterbeer if you wish to. Now I had butterbeer, both frozen and regular, at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, and I took a sip from Keith's in London, and my opinion is that they taste different, though the staff assured us the same recipe is being used for both location. Perhaps it's because I only had a sip in London whereas I had full glasses in Orlando, but I thought the Orlando butterbeer tasted sweeter. Bottom line, visit both locations, taste it and see for yourself! When you get outside, you'll see picnic tables where you can sit down and relax. We didn't, and in hindsight, we should have. You still have quite a bit to visit from there, and you won't want to rush the end of your journey because you're uncomfortable, so take a seat, sip your butterbeer, admire the pictures you've already taken, and relax a little.
Once you've done that, take a moment to look at the large set pieces sitting outside: the Knight Bus, the bridge to Hogwarts, Number 4, Privet Drive, the Potter House (which they were still working on when we visited), the Ford Anglia, and some giant chess pieces. Be sure to take hop on the Knight Bus or Hagrid's motorcycle and in the Ford Anglia to snap a few pictures.
It's now time for the second and last studio, studio K. Though I'm much more into costumes, sets, and props, I must say that this part of the tour impressed me just as much, if not more, as the first studio. There, you get to see the goblin masks and makeup, dragons, a breathtaking Fawkes model, the scale costumes, the Dobby doll Daniel Radcliffe carried to his grave (*blows nose and sniffs loudly*), as well as quite a few animatronics like a mandrake, the flayed baby Voldemort, and the much impressive Buckbeak. That's where I met the most awesome little girl, dressed in velvet Gryffindor robes, bowing to the Hippogriff like a champion (she wasn't the only one either). I, unfortunately, didn't ask for her name, but she sure knew her canon back to front!
From the animatronics we walked up Diagon Alley (starting from Gringotts Wizarding Bank rather than the wall behind The Leaky Cauldron) and got to admire the many shop fronts of Ollivanders, Quality Quidditch Supplies, and Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, to name only a few. Once again, the attention to detail left us speechless. After the last shop, you enter a room filled with what can only be described as tons of blueprints, concept art and miniature models of everything from the Whomping Willow to the Burrow and the Quidditch World Cup stands. There, you can learn precisely how high the topmost turret on the Burrow is, admire concept art so beautiful you just want to steal it and hang it in your living room, and stare in awe at the miniatures which are so detailed it's unbelievable. For example, if you look closely inside the miniature created for the Prefect's bathroom, you'll be able to spot the mermaid stained glass window. It was so small taking a picture of it proved to be difficult.
Once you're out of that room, you round a corner and are faced with the pièce de résistance of the whole tour: the Hogwarts scale model. I'm sure you'll recall the reaction the kids had in the Philosopher's Stone/Sorcerer's Stone movie when they first caught a glimpse of the castle from their little boats. Well, that's exactly how you'll react when seeing this miniature (which is still at least a story high) of everyone's beloved School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. We thought we had seen attention to detail in the rooms we had visited thus far, but it was nothing, absolutely nothing when compared to what was achieved with the castle. In all honesty, you need either binoculars or a very good camera zoom to fully experience what you are seeing; your eyes alone are probably not strong enough. The little lamp posts are so small they'd make the pen you have on your desk at home look enormous. The bridge is made of pieces of wood that are so tiny you'd think they're toothpicks. They say that if only one person had worked on this project, it would have taken said person 74 years to complete it, and I have no trouble believing it. To be honest, I don't think the English language (or any other, for that matter) includes words powerful enough to express what I got to admire in that room. The fact that the lighting would show Hogwarts throughout the day and night only added to the magnificence.
After that, you'd think the journey was over. What could the Studio tour possibly have left in store? The credits, of course, but with a little wizard twist. After the Hogwarts castle room, you enter a room filled with wand boxes, though they're probably stacked in a more ordered fashion than at Ollivander's. On many of those wand boxes, you notice a label. Oh. I know that name. Here's Daniel Radcliffe. And J.K. Rowling. And Warwick Davis. But who on earth is David Smith? And Nicholas Henderson? And Victoria King? Ask Stephen, the employee stationed there, he'll probably know, as the man's knowledge of wandlore is second to Ollivander's and of the Harry Potter cast and crew is probably unprecedented. In case you haven't guessed it yet, the labels list the name of every single person who has ever worked on the Harry Potter films, whether they were actors, sound recorders, drivers, or concept artists. There are 4,000 labels in that room, which puts everything you've seen during the tour into perspective. Yes, you can find the wand boxes for each and every single actor in the movies, but bottom line is, you'll have to find them because they are hidden among thousands of others who made the movies what they are. As talented as they are, the actors wouldn't have been able to make Jo Rowling's world come alive the way they did had it not been for all those people working in the shadows. Sure, Jason Isaacs can say Lucius' lines just as well in boxers (ladies, you're welcome for that visual!) as he can wearing his robes, but the effect would have been far from being the same had the costuming crew not been there to sew them. And Warwick Davis sure is a wonderful actor, but let's face it, he really doesn't look like a goblin without the makeup on. Seeing that room, you can't help but say a silent thank you to each and every single label/person for the hard work and dedication they have put into those films.
Then you enter the gift shop. So that's it now, the tour is over, right? Insert a big buzzer sound here, because it's not. Even there, there are props to see. The lanterns are the ones that can be found in Slughorn's office, and the shelves are the ones that can be found in the library scenes, though we've been told they had to cut a portion of them so they would fit. The wall behind the cash register is also the one in front of which Gringotts goblins can be found working. The cashiers were very happy to mention how cool they thought that they had the privilege to work in such a setting. The gift shop is obviously filled with treasures for all budgets, from cheap £2.95 Dark Mark lollipop to £39.95 sweaters and more expensive collectors' pieces.
So the tour being over, what do I wish I had done differently. The most obvious would have been to charge my camera battery. Then I either would have left the heels at home or sat down way more often to give my poor feet a break. Last but not least, I wish I had taken more breaks but taken more time in each section, reading every sign, talking to every employee there, etc. I thought to myself "I'll go back and do that later", but in the end, I never did.
A few of my work colleagues asked me which I find better between the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, and the Harry Potter: The Exhibition (which is currently touring in Australia). My answer is that they're all different in their own unique way. The Exhibition allowed you to sit in Hagrid's chair, throw Quaffles through golden hoops, and visit sets that weren't shown at the Studio Tour. However, the fact that you can't take a single picture, unless they've changed the rules, without having a prefect following you around makes it a lot less enjoyable. As for the WWoHP, it has the added bonus of letting you visit the inside of shops like Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, as well as eat inside The Three Broomsticks, not to mention the rides, which I enjoyed a lot. And you've just read my full report on the WB Studio Tour. So in short, if you can, visit them all. However, if you had to pick only one, I'd pick the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, if only for the sheer quantity of things you get to see.
I had a truly amazing time visiting the London Studios, and I'd like to thank the WB Studio Tour staff, as well as MuggleNet, especially Keith and Micah, for this wonderful and unique opportunity. And of course, thank you to J.K. Rowling for thinking about Harry and writing his adventures. At the end of the wand room, there was a quote by her that said: "The stories we love best do live in us forever. Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home." So my question to Jo is... When can I move in?
Hidden away in west Hertfordshire, magic is happening. Over 10 years of Harry Potter film history is being unearthed and put on display where, next spring, it'll form one of the UK's most extraordinary attractions. I'm talking about none other than Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter at Leavesden Studios.
Imagine being able to step foot inside The Great Hall, to come face-to-face with a Basilisk, to step inside THE Ford Anglia used in the films - that is just a small taste of what's on offer to fans everywhere. The truly unique tour will let you venture behind-the-scenes and witness first-hand the craftsmanship and magic that has gone into making one of the most successful film franchises of all time.
A few weeks ago I was invited for a sneak peek behind the scenes of the 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. Despite the fact that there is plenty of work still to be done ahead of the launch, I was given a clear vision of what they hoped to achieve.
Everything is being done with great care and respect to ensure an authentic representation of the Harry Potter films. Whilst 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 are the team originally involved in creating them. Production Designer Stuart Craig, Make-up Effects Artist Nick Dudman, Stephanie McMillan, a whole host of industry experts have returned to bring the world of Potter alive one final time.
The first thing to note is that this place is huge! Set in over 150,000 square feet, the tour will be housed in two studios (J and K - a coincidental homage to the wonderful author behind it all), as well as an exterior space for some of the outdoor sets and props. With great respect to the studio's history, the old Rolls-Royce factory buildings will be preserved - it is this level of care and proficiency that is evident throughout the planning and development of the tour.
The attraction is estimated to take three hours and the studios are expecting around 5,000 visitors a day. The pre-booked tickets will be allocated to time slots with around 120 people per session. A free shuttle bus will be on hand to transport visitors from Watford Junction to the heart of the studios.
As fans arrive at the visitor's entrance they will be immediately presented with props protruding from the ceiling. I'm talking about either a Hawthorne Dragon or a Basilisk suspended from the roof! To the left will be a cafe (no butterbeer, I'm afraid!) and to the right will be a gift shop that will sell some unique merchandise only available at the tour.
The experience starts with 8 digital screens playing footage from all of the films - building the hype and showing you the result of everything you are about to see henceforth. As the footage concludes you will be taken to a cinema where you will see some exclusive messages from the cast and crew reminiscing over their time on the set that many of them called home for the best part of a decade. From here, visitors will be taken to the most iconic and breathtaking of the sets that will feature in the tour, The Great Hall. 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. Before entering the solid oak doors, you can marvel at the statues that surround The Entrance Hall, which are brought to life by McGonagall in The Battle of Hogwarts.
The Great Hall itself will be decked out prior to The Battle of Hogwarts and will be decorated with the house colors. What is evident here is the level of detail that goes into every single prop. The cutlery for the 1,000 extras was hand-dipped in gold, the tables were distressed before filming and then vandalized by extras (as encouraged by Stuart Craig), all of which added an extra level of authenticity. You will be able to walk on the same York Stone floor and take a seat at one of the house tables used in the films. For the first time, you will be able to witness the faint markings of the house emblems on the walls, things that aren't clearly visible when you watch the movies.
At the teachers' table will be a showcase of the costumes of the Hogwarts staff including Dumbledore, McGonagall, and Snape. There will also be the House Points vial, containing the very beads that left a national bead shortage when they were installed in 2000.
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 - a decision that was rightly made to allow them to furnish the rooms full of props for you to admire. You will be able to see the original beds that were made for Harry, Ron, Seamus, Neville, and Dean, which they quickly outgrew during filming. On one of many screens detailing information about the sets, you will discover that filmmakers had to use camera angles to hide the fact that the teenagers could no longer fit in their beds. It is these insights that make the tour very personal and informative.
Some of the other sets that will be featured on the tour include Dumbledore's Office (with the Griffin doorway, the Pensieve, and Portraits), the Black Family Tapestry, parts of the Library, the Ministry of Magic (specifically the fireplaces, Umbridge's Office and the infamous Magic is Might Statue), Hagrid's Hut, the Potion's Classroom, the Cupboard Under The Stairs (which you can go inside) and the Weasley Kitchen.
Outside there will be number 4 Privet Drive, the Riddle tomb, the Hogwarts Bridge, and the chess pieces used in the Philosopher's Stone. With some decisions still to be made, there may be additional props added outside, with the chance of rotating the pieces throughout the year.
We were told on the tour that there are over 180 shipping containers worth of props and sets, which are available for use on the tour. We can expect to see several display cases scattered around containing some of these items. In addition to these props, will be those hanging from ceilings and walls, including Hagrid's motorbike, the Gringotts cart from Deathly Hallows - Part 2 and Quidditch Brooms. Each will have green screens behind them with moving backgrounds to demonstrate the film technique.
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the tour is discovering that elements in the films you expect to be done by CGI were not. 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 first-hand, 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). In the Weasley Kitchen you'll be able to use hand gestures to animate objects like saucepans and chopping knives and watch the magic unfurl before your very eyes.
Also present will be 3 of the 15 Ford Anglia's that were used in the filming. One will be specially made to provide a photo opportunity with you inside of the car. It is worth mentioning that you will be able to take photographs throughout the tour.
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. The sheer level of detail here took me back; we were told for instance that there were several versions of Fawkes the Phoenix, each one had the feathers individually painted and attached. When we were there, art designers were working on Aragog (which is huge!) and they were individually adding each hair to the leg one by one. This level of intricacy is something you don't always appreciate until you see it up close and personal.
In the creature workshop, visitors will be able to see the Basilisk, Buckbeak, the Hog's Head plaque, the Hungarian Horntail, Goblins, an eerily dead Charity Burbage, and the freakishly tall Aragog.
What I like most about the Studio Tour is the level of honesty and authenticity it bestows. Whilst breathtaking and overwhelming, the tour is in parts very raw - you will be able to see the scaffolding, plaster, and tape that holds the sets together. This gutsy decision was made so that you, the fan, will get to experience things exactly as the cast and crew did when they shot the films. Everything has been done with thought behind it - with Michael Finney telling us that even the lighting and time of day were part of the complex decision-making. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter, is a celebration of the craftsmanship of filmmaking of Harry Potter and I highly recommend it!
Due to huge demand, tickets will only be available through pre-booking - they will not be sold on-site. You can buy tickets online at www.wbstudiotour.co.uk, when they go on sale, on October 13th 2011 or from approved tour operators. Tickets will be priced at £28 for adults, £21 for children and £83 for a family of four.