Warner Bros Studios The Making of Harry Potter.
“Of course, it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?” –The Deathly Hallows
Time flies so fast I really can’t believe it’s been 16 years since the first movie of Harry Potter was released in the theatres. I’ve watched all 8 Harry Potter films in the cinema and almost every year I couldn’t wait for the new one! Especially the first movies were released around mid-November so I had connected the movies with the Christmas period.
For this reason, I thought it would be interesting to visit the London Warner Bros Studios where all the Harry Potter films where shot.
When I was looking for tickets online, I had to book a slot in advance. I realised that during the time I wanted to book, it would be “Hogwarts in the Snow”. We would experience Christmas in Hogwarts where the Great Hall stage would be decorated as it was for the iconic Yule Ball!
Needless to say, I immediately took the chance and booked the tickets.
The Warner Bros Studios The Making of Harry Potter are just a bit outside London, so we took the Shuttle Bus from Watford Junction (around 15 minutes by train from Euston station) to the Studio Tour.
Inside the bus there was a welcoming video on what to expect more or less, from Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy). Honestly, I couldn’t recognise him without his long blonde hair. Also, he seemed a very sweet guy! After about 15 minutes we finally arrived!
When we stepped inside the building, we immediately felt the magic in the air! Wherever I was looking, I could see something from the films. Large posters of the cast were all around and oh, the Studio Shop -it was so tempting- we bought many memorabilia! (t-shirts, magnets, mugs, Prof. Snape’s wand… actually -we needed to stop at some point -we wanted to buy much more).
We were informed that taking photos is allowed in all areas of the studio, apart from the pre-show cinema (which was at the very beginning of the tour – Harry, Ron and Hermione were welcoming us in a short movie in the Studio) and the green screen areas.
So, Christmas at Hogwarts welcomed us from the very first set we saw: The Great Hall where many of the most iconic scenes were filmed here and one of the castle’s most unforgettable location. It was covered in silvery ice, dripping icicles and sparkling snow as seen in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. In the centre, it was displayed one of the Yule Ball sculptures and snow-covered Christmas trees while the two large dining tables were dressed as if it was a seasonal feast. Everything was ready. Everything was spectacular, exceptional. Every. Little. Detail.
We all got to see the boy’s dormitory set as well as the Common Room, Dumbledore’s Office, Snape’s classroom etc. I’ve watched the movies so many times that everything felt so familiar! it felt like somehow, I was returning home…
We also saw some magical effects from the Special Effects Department that had created several household items with magical powers at the Weasley Home. We also got to see the set of Malfoy Manor were Voldemort gathered the Death Eaters.
The tour takes you -if you are brave enough- through the Forbidden Forest, where you really need to watch your step, and if you are not careful enough maybe some gigantic spiders and other creatures will eat you! The forest floor was also impressive because you were feeling like walking onto leaves and mud.
The next set was the iconic Hogwards Express Locomotive and the Platform 9 3/4. Although most scenes were shot at the King’s Cross Station in London, the very first shot of the Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and the very last shot of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2, were captured here, having Hogwarts Express at the background.
Everyone was taking pictures at the platform 9 3/4 and we also experienced the passenger carriage set, with exterior views displaying moving backdrops and special effects like hopping Chocolate Frogs and flying Dementors. We got the chance to actually be in the movie where an automated voice was giving us instructions on how to react and act so that they can photograph us.
Of course, we tried the butterbeer and the butterbeer ice cream. Although in the Harry Potter universe, butterbeer is slightly alcoholic, my boyfriend made a very funny face when he tasted it and realised that it’s alcohol free. He was very disappointed because he was looking to taste this type of beer since the beginning of the visit. In the end it was very tasty and a bit buttery but a bit of a bump. I opted for the ice cream which is the icey version of the butterbeer, creamy and buttery as well.
Now it was time to visit The Backlot, where all the exterior sets are located.
We got to see Privet Drive, the street where the suburban home of the Dursleys reside (Harry Potter’s relatives) and where Harry Potter was raised after his parent’s death. We entered the house and we saw the corridor and the living room of the house. Time frozen at the famous “letters flying through the fire place” scene.
We also saw the following:
The Knight Bus: The triple-decker bus was created from the pieces of three vintage London double-deckers.
Hogwarts Bridge: on the set, it was built only one section of the bridge. The remaining sections were created after by the Visual Effects Department.
This is the Ford Anglia which was created for Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Ron was riding.. well… flying the car and now me!
The next part of the tour was dedicated to Creature Effects Department. They were responsible for the make-up effects and prosthetics of the characters, the model creation of many notable creatures of the films such as the adorable -and yet stubborn- Dobbie etc.
We also got to see amazing detailed architectural drawings, model miniatures, graphics and paintings from many scenes of the movies. Everything was carefully planned to the very last detail!
The Diagon Alley set left me in awe as I was sure it wasn’t a whole set but a composition of some CGI and actual London scenery. All shops were carefully constructed with rich details, inspired from the works of Charles Dickens. The result was pretty amazing! I didn’t miss the chance to take pictures outside Ollivanders were all wizards, including Harry got their wands. And since you were not there, so did we! ♥
The last part of the tour was the stunning Hogwarts castle! 86 artists, created this 1:24 scale model that is inspired from real castles, Scottish lakes and hillsides. In order to appear more realistic, they have added optic fibre lights to simulate torches and lanterns. They also hand sculpted tiny details. All this in an enormous room that leaves nothing else to say than: Oh. My. God!
An organised, well guided tour from the beginning ’till the end with very friendly and helpful staff!
Thank you all so much for keeping the sparkle still on!
Such a nice break from the muggle world ♥
Until next time!