There’s always something to do with your days off in summer with an endless choice of places to go. But when it comes to this time of year, the likes of Alton Towers, the beach, a zoo or even the option of a walk aren’t exactly appealing unless you’re willing to freeze! Although everyone loves the excuse of winter to stay in and watch films all day, it can get boring and it’s then that you realise there needs to be more options for winter day trips.
One place to go is the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London, or as I like to call it – Harry Potter World. You don’t have to be a huge fan of Harry Potter to go here, as long as you are familiar with the characters and story lines you are sure to enjoy it.
The tour begins with a short film explaining the birth of Harry Potter from J.K. Rowling’s imagination and a personal talk from the stars – Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. The doors to the Grand Hall are pushed open when it is time to begin the journey and you feel like you are living in the films. My first thought was that is it a lot smaller than it looks on screen! But the amount of detail in not only the Grand Hall but every set – including the Gryffindor dormitory and potions classroom – was the best it could be. From empty chocolate frog wrappers to printed newspapers and half read books, it really made it feel as if people had been living there.
As Daniel Radcliffe warns before you go in, ‘you will never look at Quidditch the same again’ once you have experienced flying a broom… The green screen rooms give you the chance to experience what the actors would have, from flying on a broom and seeing yourself on the screen flying in and out of cars, to flying the car yourself from the famous scene in The Chamber of Secrets. You also get the chance to taste Butterbeer – warning, don’t waste £3 to taste fizzy water.
The majority of the tour is inside, showing sets such as Dumbledore’s office and the Weasley’s kitchen as well as the real costumes that were worn in the films. It’s easy to miss certain details though, such as all the hanging portraits around the studio, Harry and Ron’s knitted jumpers in their dorm and the Black family tree tapestry hung up. Once you’re outside, you can visit Privet Drive, pose for a photo on the Night Bus and try out Hagrid’s motorbike.
The age range of people there was massive, anyone will enjoy a day trip here. But be warned, the secrets revealed could ruin your childhood – my friend was utterly disappointed discovering that Hogwarts wasn’t a real castle, but a model about as tall as ourselves, filmed in front of a green screen. At each point of the tour are screens with actors and producers talking you through the section; at this point we see Daniel Radcliffe walking on a treadmill in front of a green screen, before showing how this transforms to him walking in the grounds of Hogwarts – fantasy world ruined!
Personally, I found the best part of the tour was walking through Diagon Alley and seeing all the shops, but what really makes the whole thing stand out is the detail, particularly at the end, where thousands of wand boxes have been hand scribed with the names of everyone who has worked on the films.
Tickets are £29, which is average compared to the likes of Thorpe Park for a day out. But be prepared to pay a lot more than this in the gift shop (£8 for a chocolate frog – rip off). But overall it is a really good day and you’ll weirdly find yourself getting excited at the site of a street sign reading ‘Privet Drive’.