A few weeks ago, Noah and I were absolutely delighted to get the chance to go to WB Studio tour, the Making of Harry Potter . I grabbed my sister in law and nephew, charged my camera batteries, made a packed lunch and set my face to stunned and we were ready to set off to Watford.
First things first, finding the venue was very straightforward, it was well signposted and upon arrival, there were lots of friendly staff in the car park to direct us, as if by magic, to the perfect parking space.
The outside area was spotlessly clean, full of smiling, excited visitors and even more staff to assist with tickets and to point us all in the right direction. Huge stills of the film were displayed on the studio walls and giant Wizard Chess pieces from The Philosopher’s Stone were ready and waiting for photo opportunities.
Simply taking our booking number to a booth and getting our tickets, we were ready and very excited to start the tour! After a short wait inside, we were admitted to a room full of screens on the walls, with a guide who explained everything we needed to know about the tour and to get us even more excited about what we were about to see. After the talk, we were let through to a cinema area, took our seats and watched a short video by Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, with lots of clips from the eight films. Once the video was over, there was an audible gasp of joy as the screen rose to reveal the huge, solid oak doors of the Great Hall, which is where our tour began.
Time to turn your camera on and get yourself ready for the most magical couple of hours you can possibly imagine to find on a hot summer’s day in Watford.
The Great Hall was set ready for a feast, with mannequins dotted around with original costumes, the Sorting Hat ready at the head of the Hall on it’s stool and costumes of the teachers displayed at the head of the Hall. I could have happily stayed in there for hours to soak up all the tiny details and the magical atmosphere of the Great Hall which I first read about in the first Harry Potter book when I was 11 years old. Noah was in total silence, which I knew was a sign he was very impressed indeed. However, the Great Hall set really is the tip of an enchanted iceberg or indeed, magical ice sculpture.
After taking countless photos of everything in sight, we walked through to a huge room full to the brim with props, set pieces and costumes and this is where I realised the tour was much, much more than I anticipated. I couldn’t possibly list every detail in this room, from the dungeon Potions Classroom complete with tall labeled jars of grisly potion ingredients to a huge wall of paintings used for display along the walls of the Marble Staircase which are actually portraits of the filmmakers to tiny cabinets filled with Dumbledore’s Deluminator, the Philosopher’s Stone, Reeta Skeeters acid green quill and much, much more.
There was the opportunity to pose with a broomstick, or better yet, to ride a flying broomstick or the flying Ford Anglia and to buy photos and videos after.
From here we walked through to Platform 9 and 3/4 where Noah breathed a barely audible “Wow…” at the sight of the gleaming crimson Hogwarts Express and actually got to board the train and walk through to see all the compartments inside.
By this point the tour had taken around 2 and a half hours and we were ready for lunch as we walked through to the next room to happily find the Backlot Cafe, Butterbeer counter and outside picnic area. If you can definitely try the Butterbeer and Butterbeer ice cream – if you pay a little extra you can get these in souvenir tankards and sundae dishes which Noah was delighted to be able to bring home. I won’t spoil the surprise of how these taste, but the ice cream is really rather special.
Once we were full and rested we were ready to complete the tour, with the Knight Bus, the Hogwarts Bridge and Number 4 Privet Drive right beside us outside in the eating area.
The Privet Drive set was a special exhibition piece brought back for the Finding the Philosopher’s Stone experience and is open until September 5th. Inside there’s only one room to view but to see the hundreds of Hogwarts letters dashing down the fireplace and flying around the room for Harry as the Dursleys desperately try to keep him from opening them – it really does add to the magical experience of the tour.
With yet more photos and even more “Wow, Mummy, look!”, we walked up Diagon Alley, peered at all the shop windows. By this point the boys were rather tired, with one last push we walked through to the darkened, atmospheric room taken up by the scaled down version of Hogwarts itself which is simply breath-taking.
And then, deep breath, it’s exit through the gift shop time. Be prepared to spend more than you’d think on trinkets and souvenirs as the vast choice is huge and it won’t just be the kids wanting to take everything home, you’ll have armfuls yourself.
And so, with a huge fluffy Crookshanks tucked under his arm, happily eating Fudge Flies, and me trailing behind with everything else and my exhausted camera, we ended our tour and sadly made our way back to the car to go home.
Our experience at the WB Studio tour, the Making of Harry Potter was truly enchanting, it was everything I hoped it would be and even more besides and we had such a special day, we were very sad to leave. Thank you Warner Brothers for giving us the opportunity to visit and for giving us a day we won’t ever forget.
Disclaimer: I was given a family ticket to visit the WB Harry Potter Studios for the purpose of this review, however all editorial and opinions are completely honest and entirely my own.