Why not treat the kids this February half-term to a visit to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter? It is hosting a special Wand Week, not to be missed!
I have been a fan of Harry Potter ever since I read the first book.
I didn’t have children when I read Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and now it’s great that my daughter Amber, who is nine years old is also now into the books and films.
I love watching the films, so imagine my delight when me and Amber got the chance to visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter.
We were so excited by the time we got there, and couldn’t wait to go on the tour. Amber was getting annoyed with me for taking pictures of her outside the building as she was desperate to get in!
A great place to take the family, and this half-term the studios sees a special one week only event – Wand Week from 16th to 24th February.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter will invite visitors to delve into the world of wand making, spell casting and wizarding duels. Special effects and choreography experts from the Harry Potter film series will be involved in creating the activities for Wand Week.
Visitors will discover first-hand how fight scenes were developed and the incredible amount of planning that went into each wand movement. Original moulds, concept art and wand designs will be showcased in the attraction and, for the first time, Mr Ollivander’s costume will be on display at the entrance of his famous wand shop. The Studio Tour’s knowledgeable staff members will be on hand to share behind-the-scenes secrets and to teach the wand moves seen in the films.
We were lucky enough to meet the lovely Paul Harris, who is a leading choreographer, dance teacher and movement director who choreographed the wand combat sequences in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix for which he devised the physical language for the use of the wand. Paul created the language of the wand for the films and used a mix of fencing, ku fung and ballet.
Amber was lucky enough to get a one-off lesson from Paul showing her five attack moves, that Harry Potter himself would be proud of!
During Wand Week Death Eaters will be returning to the Studio Tour to demonstrate wand moves to visitors, head prop maker Pierre Bohanna’s team will be hand carving wands within the attraction and special effects supervisor John Richardson will be creating a display in Diagon Alley which will allow the Interactors to demonstrate the special effects behind spell casting. Finally choreographer Paul Harris has created an instillation for the attraction which will allow visitors to practise their own wand moves over Wand Week.
It is so easy to get to, it’s situated just off the M25, off junction 20. There are plenty of parking facilities on this massive site at Leavesden.
It was time, we waited in line until it was our time for the tour, these are so well organised, it’s best to be there 20 minutes before your tour starts just to make sure you don’t miss it as these are timed tours.
After admiring and saying ‘awww’ at the cupboard under the stairs where Harry spent the first part of his life at the Dursleys house, it was on into the screen room.
It was great to hear how the first book nearly didn’t get read by the film makers, luckily for us it was spotted and turned into the magnificent films we enjoy today.
After watching a short film made by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, we stepped through the large doors into the Great Hall. Yes the actual Great Hall that housed some 4,000 kids as extras in the films.
As we carried on the tour, we walked round, mouths open, saying look at that, look at this. From the costumes, to the sets and all the little bits in between, this was an amazing place to be and I knew we would spend a few hours in there.
Amber had her Harry Potter passport, in which you collect 6 stamps as you go around the sets. Also we had to be on the look out for the Golden Snitch, we had 15 of those to find.
Seeing the boys’ dormitory, where Harry and Ron shared a room with Neville Longbottom, Seamus Finnigan and Dean Thomas, then onto the Gryffindor common room, the detail in everything is amazing, we felt like Harry, Hermione and Ron had just popped out!
Spending time in Dumbledore’s office was great with all the sleeping portraits and of course the memory cabinet where he kept more than 800 tiny, handmade and hand-labelled vials.
Amber started counting the peculiar jars and bottles on the shelves in the Potions classroom, but there were so many, every one had something different in them. It was fascinating to see them so close, so much detail even though they were only on screen for a short time.
The props were so impressive, from the beautifully carved wands for each character to the Horcruxes were a delight to see.
We couldn’t believe how much there was to see. From how they did the special effects for Quidditch, to how they made the gorgeous green tiles inside the Ministry of magic was fascinating. I did shudder a bit when we looked at the Death Eaters costumes!
As if the inside of the tour wasn’t brilliant enough, you can go out onto the Backlot. During production, the backlot was home to the exterior set of the Harry Potter films – including Privet Drive and the Hogwarts bridge. You can even see the Knight Bus, all 3 decks of the purple beauty!
Amber jumped onto Hagrid’s motorbike and side-car, then had a go at driving Mr Weasleys Ford Anglia.
After admiring the giant chess pieces we headed back inside into the Creatures Shop. Here, you get to see up close the intricate prosthetics from the Basilisk to Buckbeak to Lord Voldermort’s snake-like face and many more all built by the people in the Creature Shop.
Make sure your camera is fully charged as I took over 500 pictures!
Imagine my delight when we turned a corner and ended up in Diagon alley. We imagined what it was like with all the extras creating the hustle and bustle in the films. The dusty Ollivanders wand shop is where Harry’s wand chose him. The shop was home to more than 17,000 individually hand-made labelled wand boxes!
And then the jewel in the crown to see the intricately detailed model of Hogwarts castle. The model’s every courtyard, tower and turret were filmed and enhanced with digital effects to create unforgettably realistic views of the magical school.
Amber says: I had such a great day out. I liked looking at all the props that were used in the films. There is so much to see. We spent 5 hours looking round. It was good to meet Paul Harris and have a one-off lesson, I used a wand like Hermione’s to practice the moves. I’ve been trying them out on my 2 year old brother Jacob! If you like Harry Potter, you will love it.
Whether you make it to Wand Week or not, this is an amazing day out. We can’t wait to go back soon!
Adult (Ages 16 years and above) £29.00, Child (Ages 5 to 15 years) £21.50, Under 4s (Tickets are required for children aged 4 and under) Free, Family (either two adults with two children, or one adult with three children) £85.00.