It isn’t often that an opportunity comes along to explore the hidden magic behind one of the biggest movie franchises of all time, and the Warner Bros. Studio Tour presents exactly that. If you’ve ever wondered what went on behind the scenes of the iconic Harry Potter films, look no further – the Studio Tour delves into every aspect of movie magic that went into bringing the fantastical world of ‘The Boy Who Lived’ to the screen.
Located some distance away from centre of London, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is a pricey day out, but worth every penny. Even if you’re not a die-hard fan who read and re-read the books, flies into a rage every time the movies leave out precious plot points, or cries every time a character dies on page or screen (no names, or this will get too emotional), you would need to be a very difficult muggle to impress if you make it through the Studio Tour without enjoying yourself. However, this attraction is more than a stone’s throw away, so it’s best to have an idea of whether this tour is something that will interest you or not before you fork out money for flights, accommodation, and of course the cost of the tickets themselves.
The most surprising aspect of the studio tour was the amount of immersive virtual tour-guiding performed by members of the Harry Potter cast. My favourite was Warwick Davis and his humourous explanations of the various moulds and animatronics used in the portrayal of Hagrid, Buckbeak, and other lovable and terrifying creatures. Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson themselves are also among those who digitally guide visitors through the different rooms impressing the importance of the work which happens off-camera, which becomes evident as the real magic behind Hogwarts, the Ministry of Magic, Platform 9¾ and Diagon Alley.
I don’t wish to spoil the penultimate feature of the tour for those of you planning a visit, but the final section of the attraction brought me close to tears, and blew my expectations of the tour out of the water. I would recommend a visit to just about anybody with an interest in Harry Potter, or the filmmaking process in general, as the tour offers a decent mix of fangirl-pleasing memorabilia and fascinating cinematic wizardry.
My visit occurred during the Studio Tour’s winter-themed Hogwarts in the Snow, which included a few snowy additions to the regular tour. If your visit doesn’t happen in winter, you will not miss much, but if you find that a sprinkling of snow here and there adds just a little extra magic to your surroundings, Hogwarts in the Snow is worthwhile.
If I were to give you advice before your trip, I would suggest taking a fully-charged camera with a clear memory (I foolishly ran out of memory space halfway through the tour), as it is impossible to resist the opportunity to be photographed with some of the scenes and props from the magical world we all know so well. I would also advise taking a set amount of spending money to the attraction, as food, drink and the souvenir shop are far from cheap (and in all honesty, will you be able to resist trying the famous Butter Beer or a Chocolate Frog, or picking up a House scarf or the official wand of your favourite HP character?). Finally, make sure you schedule enough time to make your way through the tour and enjoy everything thoroughly – you don’t want to end up running through Platform 9¾ like Harry and Ron in The Chamber of Secrets!
- Niamh Crosbie, Film and Entertainment Editor
This article originally appeared in Volume 29, Issue 7. Released February 2nd 2016.