Why visiting the home of the movies close-up will leave you and your brood spellbound
The Harry Potter franchise may have come to an end but the magic of the boy wizard lives on at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, offering us mere muggles an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at how the much-loved movies were made.
From Hagrid’s hut and Dumbledore’s office to the Gryffindor Common Room and the Ministry of Magic, everything from the spellbinding blockbusters look just as good in the flesh as they did on the big screen.
Based in Leavesden, you and your Potter-mad brood can enjoy the delights of the real props, costumes, wigs and animatronics used to make the movies that spanned over the course of a decade.
Budding Wizards will love walking down the cobbled roads of Diagon Alley, taking a ride in the Weasley’s flying car and peering through the windows of Harry’s house at No.4 Privet Drive.
Beginning indoors, lovers of the witchcraft and wizardry will learn the secret of filming Quidditch, take flight on a broom, stand by the Chambers of Secret and marvel at the many wands, horcruxes, books, potions and cloaks used to make the movies a success.
A highlight for us, and for Hogwarts swots everywhere, is the unveiling of some of the most close kept secrets by the Potter geniuses scattered throughout the tour.
For instance, here at MFM HQ we’re now aware that evil dictator Voldermort’s cloak turns lighter shades of green throughout the movies as his power deteriorates and that every wand featured in Olivander’s shop is hand-crafted and individually designed. Cool, huh?!
The outdoor section of the tour really is a sight to behold and will make even the greatest of wizards tremble with excitement. Some of the most impressive sets for the movies stand tall, such as James and Lily Potter’s destroyed home, Tom Riddle’s grave and the Hogwarts bridge, while the air is filled with the sweet toffee scent of Butterbeer. That’s right, you too can indulge in the frothy drink that dominated Hogwarts in the eight movies – and we have to say it really is delicious. Mmm!
Something that really stood out for us (SPOILER ALERT) is the Hogwarts Castle Model that you pass by towards the end of the tour. Built to 1:24 scale, it was used in the exterior shots for the first six films and the attention to detail is incredible, with 3,000 fibre optic lights fitted inside and turned on as the night sky darkens.
Another thing that impressed us was that, on reflection, the tour really is good value for money. Even though you have to enter at a designated time and told it takes three hours to walk around, there’s no rush to speed through – you and your brood can take it at your own pace.
Of course there’s a gift shop – as with most tourist attractions, you have no choice but to walk through it en route to the exit – and the variety on offer could just leave you out of pocket if your little one wants a truck load of memorabilia. Although pricey, the character wands on offer (priced between £25-£30) make a great novelty present and we even indulged in an Elder Wand after seeing the Duchess Kate Middleton waving one.
Animal Actors Week took place from Saturday 25th May to Sunday 2nd June at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. Visit Warner Brother’s Studio Tour for up and coming events. Tickets must be booked in advance.’
Adult – £29
Child (5-15 years) – £21.50
Child (0-4 years) – Free
Family ticket (1 adult, 3 children) – £85