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As you may or may not know, Harry Potter is my life. In no way is this an exaggeration. It was the movies that did it for me but the books soon followed. With all the Harry Potter Theme Parks opening in the US it was a bit disheartening that the chances of me visiting any time soon were slim (Spoiler: I have since been to Universal Florida for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter which you can read about here!), so when I heard they were opening up Leavesden Studios to the public for the Harry Potter Studio Tour I was over the moon!
While Leavesden is still an active film studio, they created two new soundstages to house the permanent exhibition. The attraction is dedicated to a behind the scenes look at the making of Harry Potter, home to many of the series most iconic sets, props and costumes. The Harry Potter Studio Tour was open to the public in March 2012, but I didn’t manage to visit until March 2014!
The wait was worth it! It was even more ‘magical’ than I expected it to be! In this post I am going to show you my best bits of the tour. It’s going to be pretty extensive, so prepare ourselves!
After getting a train from Euston to Watford Junction, there is a Double Decker bus that picks you up at the train station to take you to the studios. If you are driving, there is also a pretty big car park so you should be fine finding a space. The bus itself was enough to get my excited but when we pulled up the studio I lost my mind:
Once you pass through the large foyer area, you are guided into another room. I assume this is how they control the numbers as they only let a certain amount of people in at a time. While waiting they show some behind the scenes clips and interviews from Producer David Heyman and past Directors etc. You are then moved into another room that is set up like a cinema. Here you see a little film about Harry Potter Studio Tour (there is also a little message from the Golden Trio!) Then the magic begins!
The Great Hall
The projector screen draws up to reveal the Great Hall Doors! It was so unexpected and incredible! They take you in and talk to you a bit about the tour, but after that you are left to your own devices. You can spend as long as you want making your way through the sets, though they say the average visit is 3 hours.
It’s amazing to be able to get up close to the iconic sets of Harry Potter. The detail they have put into them is incredible! Here are some of my favourites.
The Backlot is the outside section that connects the two sound stages. It is home to the exterior sets such as Number 4 Privet Drive, Godric’s Hollow, The Knight Bus, Tom Riddles Tombstone, Hogwarts Bridge, Hargrids Motorbike, The Weasley’s Flying Car and of course a refreshments stall where you can try some good old Butterbeer (I was quite disappointed with myself that I didn’t really like it)
I found this to be a nice rest stop for the tour. The fresh air and open space was nice compared to the jam packed soundstages.
Visit the department that created more than 200 mythical creatures over ten years of filiming. There, you will find everything from goblins, ghosts and house elves. It was so cool to get up close to these creatures! My favourite was the Mermaid! The detail put into that blew my mind.
Arts and Graphics
I really liked this department, seeing all the sets in minute detail. Spotting how the art work made it transition into the films . And of course the massive 1:24 scale of Hogwarts Castle that was used for all exterior shots! (Have I mentioned yet that they play Harry Potter soundtracks throughout the whole tour? Just to knock your emotions over the edge!)
Then of course you have the Gift Shop to end the magical experience. With my emotions all over the place I definitely went a bit overboard, but my Ravenclaw Scarf is still proudly hanging up in my room!
In conclusion, Harry Potter Studio Tour is something that I could do again and again. If I lived nearer London I would have been a good few times by now! There is just so much to see there is no way you can see it all in one day.
Since my visit in 2014 they have added the Hogwarts Express as well as the interior of Number 4 Privet Drive (I’m not sure if that was just a limited attraction or if they have made it permanent). Furthermore, they also have events on like Hogwarts in the Snow (duing Christmas time they will dress the sets for the season), Dinner in the Great Hall (7th-8th December) and screening of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. You can visit their website to keep up to date with any upcoming events.
Have you ever visited Harry Potter Studio Tour, London? Or are you just a crazy Potterhead like myself? Share your Harry Potter stories with me!