With Halloween soon approaching, Warner Brother Studio Tours: The Making of Harry Potter have gone all out. Totally redecorating the tour for the spooky season. So naturally, I had to make a second visit. Having already been to the Harry Potter studio tours back in 2013, I have been dying to go back. Since my first visit, so many new attractions have been added, the Forbidden Forest and Hogwarts Express being the two main ones. Trying to squeeze in a trip to London before I head off to Australia, my friend and I went down at the beginning of October, the day the Dark Arts came to Hogwarts.
We got the earliest slot on the 1st of October and were first in line to walk into the tour. Basically, we were keen beans. Knowing the drill of how it starts, we made our way into the first room which is just to let them control how many people they are letting through at once. Then on into the cinema room where they play a little film about the Studio Tour to get you all hyped up. Next thing you know you are walking through the doors to the Great Hall. All very similar to my last visit. The obvious different this time? The Great Hall was completed decked out in all it’s Halloween glory!
Props and Sets
After milling about the Great Hall for a bit and taking about a million pictures and videos of the ‘floating’ pumpkins, everyone was ushered into the next room to allow for a new group to come through. This may just be me, but I was more the happy to slowly make my way around the same props and sets that I had already seen. Taking duplicate pictures of the ones I took back in 2013. But hey, I’m obsessed. Some things I had forgotten about, some things were new. Most was exactly the same.
To see first hand the detail that went into making these sets and props is mind-blowing. At every exhibit they play a little video about how they built it and the process they went through. For example, the Gryffindor common room was all new carpets and furniture that had to be worn down by hand to make it look as if it had been there forever. Just the time spent on every little thing, I don’t think I would have the patience to do it.
Of course, not all of it was the same
The tour was peppered with new props and displays for the Dark Arts month. Death Eaters, Dolores Umbridge, Troll Bogies. You name it, they had it.
Yes, they had recipes for Troll Bogies, Unicorn Blood and Fluffy Drool. Yes, you could touch it. No, I did not go near it! It was an extra added bit of fun seeing all the little kids absolutely amazed and disgusted by this stuff. The fact that the staff all talk as if we are actually in Hogwarts is so cute. Not going to lie, I enjoyed it myself, being a 25-year-old. But all the little children dressed up in their Hogwarts robes must have been having the most magical time!
Forbidden Forest and Hogwarts Express
They added the Hogwarts Express not long after my first visit. But it was the Forbidden Forest that made me really want to go back. They have expanded the building so much since 2013 it’s interesting to think what else they will add in the future.
By the flow of the tour, you reach the Forbidden Forest first. You walk through the big iron gates into the foggy, eerie forest. After saying a little hello and a bow to Buckbeak, you wander through the trees and try to avoid being attacked by massive falling spiders. I’m not to keen on spiders, so this bit creeped me out a bit as they literally drop out of the sky and stop just above your head. But it all adds to the spooky atmosphere.
You then proceed on to the Hogwarts Express. Now, I thought you would just get to see it and take a picture pushing the luggage trolley through the wall at Platform 9 and ¾ but to my surprise, you actually get to walk through the train. Each compartment is designed to reflect each one of the Harry Potter films. I wish I took more pictures of inside the train. I was so excited that I disregarded my camera completely.
What was just a stall outside that served Butterbeer and burgers back in 2013 is now a full-scale restaurant. The food choices are pretty basic but it’s was so nice to have a big indoor seating area to take a break and rest our feet, Especially in October in England! We recharged just in time to see a bunch of little kids practicing their spells outside. After they seemed to master them all, as if pre-planned or something, a group of angry Death Eaters arrived with a menacing soundtrack and a battle ensued. The Death Eaters were bested by the little 5 year-olds. (The group was warned that there would be Death Eaters popping in from time to time. If you wanted to avoid them for whatever reason, you could tell one of the workers and they would redirect you.)
Another addition to the tour is Privet 4 Drive. Before, you could stand outside and take pictures with the sign, but now would can walk through the house. Again, the detail that went into designing this is amazing. Certificates and awards for Dudley cover the walls in the hallway, the little cupboard under the stairs. But the more impressive was the living room, set up as the scene in the Philosophers Stone when all of Harry’s Hogwarts letters come flying through the fireplace.
Art & Make Up Department and Diagon Alley
A favourite of mine. It hasn’t changed at all really since 2013 but I still loved walking through and admiring all the concept art and model buildings. It’s so interesting to see how they got from the original idea to the final product.
I could go back to Warner Brothers Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter a million times and not be bored. If I lived in London you best believe I would be working there! And since they keep adding new sets and exhibits to the tour, it just gives you all the more reason to go back. Maybe one day I’ll get to see it all decked out for Christmas!
Warner Brothers Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter is in Leavsden Studios, which are in Watford. Not London. But not to worry, it’s very easy to get to. All you need to do it get the train to Watford Junction, which will cost about £10 from Euston Station. From there, you will see a big Harry Potter double decker bus parked outside. That’s your ride to Leavsden Studios. It’s only £2.50 return for the bus so keep a hold of your ticket when you get on.
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