Warner Bros. Studio Tour: London - The Making of Harry Potter

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour: London is a recent addition to the London tourism scene and offers fans of Harry Potter an incredibly comprehensive look into the making of the Harry Potter movies. I found it an amazing experience and very interesting even from a simple film-making perspective - Amazing sets, props and art work.

Note: Photography is allowed throughout the experience and is actually encouraged (except during the introductory film).

Getting Tickets

You can purchase tickets on-line directly from the official web site of Warner Bros. Studio Tour: London. I would advise purchasing a ticket that includes the audio guide and souvenir guide as the audio guide is VERY helpful particularly when you often might have trouble reading the signs beside the exhibits because of the crowds. Try to avoid weekends and holidays.

Getting There

The studio is located just outside of the M25 in Watford. They have a lot of free parking there for those that wish to drive but if you wish to take public transport there is a £2 (return) charge for the bus shuttle from NRLOGO Watford Junction.

The Experience

On arrival the main entrance has a cafeteria and coffee shop as well as access to the gift shop. Before entering the exhibit via the queuing system be sure to pick up your audio guide (if you have purchased one). If you have purchased an exhibit guidebook you don't have to get this now - pick it up after your day in the studio as you end up in the gift shop (of course).

After making your way through the queue you are taken into a cinema where a short film containing an introduction to the studio and the exhibits is shown. When complete the screen is raised and you are at the closed doors of the great hall at Hogwarts. When you help open them your experience begins.

The great hall is the largest exhibit here and is amazing in it's detail.

After making your way through the great hall you are in a large soundstage full of exhibits from the films including the gates to Hogwarts, thje Gryffindor dormitory, the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore's office, Hagrid's hut and many more. There are a large number of props here and deserving of time spent.

Near to the end of this section you are given the opportunity to fly on a broom (of your choice) in front of a greenscreen to create some cinema magic…the queues here are incredible and it is fairly expensive. When visiting, we gave this a miss as we were more interested in seeing the props and sets. We did partake the “wand practice” which was quite amusing…who says it is for kids?

The next room is a new addition to the exhibit: Hogwart's Express. This is the full train and a reproduction of platform 9 3/4 at Kings Cross as well as a shop selling themed souvenirs.

This is about the half way point but be sure to see the glass display cases showcasing some of the smaller, minor props that just add that little bit of extra realism that brings the movies to life.

This now brings you to the main cafeteria where you can purchase butter beer and quite tasty food (I had the pie which is amazing). This can get very busy so it is a good idea to buy both food and butter beer at the same time - Otherwise there are two separate queues for each of these.

Outside the cafeteria in the open air are some of the larger pieces including the “Knight Bus” (a triple-decker bus), number 4 Privot Drive and the Hogwarts Bridge.

The final studio building begins with an exhibit of the prosthetics used in the movies. Many people ignore the videos but they are worth listening too as they are very interesting and quite amusing (and hosted by Warwick Davies). Some of the creatures and creepy animated props are really quite convincing.

Next you are taken along Diagon Alley with the level of detail you should now have begun to expect.

After Diagon you are taken throw a small exhibit of the architectural drawings and art used in the movies. The final part of the exhibit is the finale: A miniature scale model of Hogwarts itself. Wow.

Before you finish your visit a room full of wands with each of the many thousand boxes having the name of one of the people that helped make the movies possible. It gives you a true understanding of the large number of people involved and the effort involved.

Now it is time to spend money as you are in the shop. There are some items here that are quite unique and quite nice. Worth a browse.

Summary

It might be a bit expensive but it is a great way to spend a day. The sheer volume of things to see is incredible. Even children attending seemed to be interested in what they were seeing - It is, I have to admit, very real looking.