Monday, 26 November 2012

The Harry Potter Studio Tour

On Saturday I went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour near London. This is a big site with two hangars full of Harry Potter stuff – memorabilia, costumes, sets, models, props, animatronics, concept art, architectural models, special effects, and tons of information about the making of the Harry Potter movies. Between the hangars is an outside area where you can stop for a glass of butterbeer and hop on the Knight Bus... or take a picture of yourself driving crashing the Weasleys’ car. So much fun!

 The tour begins with a short film about how the Harry Potter movies came to be (well, actually, my tour began with the gift shop, because I couldn’t resist a look while I was waiting for my time slot to enter the event). Then, the magic begins as you are guided into... well, I won’t say, because it really was spectacular, and I don’t want to spoil the surprise. But from that moment, I knew it was going to be a fantastic day.

Dumbledore's study

Inside the first hangar is a huge selection of one amazing thing after another. There are the wigs and costumes for all the main characters and many of the side characters, some of the most iconic sets, including the Gryffindor dormitory and common room, the headmaster’s study, and the potions classroom, and just about every prop I could think of, including the Triwizard cup, brooms, wands, the horcruxes, death-eater masks, and even the food from all the feasts!

A young Minerva
Each set was dressed with all the props and trinkets used in filming, as well as dummies in full costume representing the characters found there. There were so many things to spot in each room that you could spend ages just peering into every niche and corner. E.g. Some of my favourites in the common room were the painting of a young Professor McGonagall, Neville's Mimbulus Mimbletonia (his plant), and an opened box of every-flavour-beans (with what I think might be a copy of the Quibbler in the background).
Neville's Mimbulus Mimbletonia

The first hangar also had a whole section on special effects that was very interesting, and the snake door from The Chamber of Secrets, which, incredibly, was not created with CGI but was actually constructed. In fact, many of the effects in the movies that I had assumed were achieved with CGI were created (at least partly) with animatronics. Before leaving the first hangar, make sure you don’t miss the graphics section, where you can see all the newspapers, posters, magazines, letters and stationary that were created for the movies. I thought these were brilliant, and I wish that more of them were available as souvenirs in the gift shop. Come on, I’m sure loads of people would buy a copy of the Quibbler to put on their wall!

One of the giant chess pieces (and me)

Outside, a glass of butterbeer (surprisingly yummy), and a look at some of the bigger and outdoor set and props. Then on to the second hangar, where you can see how the various creatures were brought to life. After that, a trip through Diagon Alley, which was one of the highlights of my tour (make sure you have a good look in every window, especially in the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes), through a fascinating gallery of architectural drawings and concept art, and finally to the incredible model of Hogwarts. You do not want to miss this, so make sure you leave enough time so you’re not rushed, and make sure you preserve some camera battery/memory card space!

Diagon Alley

Then, just when you thought it was all over, the Aladdin’s cave of a gift shop, where you’re guaranteed to spend far too much money.

I had a fantastic day, and would definitely recommend it!


  1. What a fantastic experience. Thank you for sharing it.

  2. i am such a big fan of harry potter and this was and still is amazing i would love to go again thank x