Let me start this blog post by stating something: I have the best sister in the entire world. The kind of sister that makes your dreams come true.
The kind of sister that gets you, as a birthday gift, an entrance to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I know. I’m still crying about how lucky I am.
I asked a little while ago on twitter if any of you would be interested to hear about my trip and my experience in the studios and most people said yes, so… here I am.
Fair warning before getting started: this blog post will be detailing my tour of the Warner Bros Studios in London. If you’d like to hear nothing about it, because you’re not that curious or don’t want to be spoiled at all about the visit there, I’d recommend you stop reading right here. I wouldn’t want to ruin your experience.
For those of you wishing to continue reading, thank you!! I have lots of pictures, (though I tried to spare you all because I took over 350 pictures…) and a lot of fun things to share and I hope you’ll enjoy it!
We arrived in London on Friday, November 8th and got up early the next day to head for an early tour of the Studios. Turns out it was the best strategy to avoid the crowds that came more and more as afternoon came by.
The Warner Bros Studios are a little further away from London, in Watford, which is about an hour and a half away from London’s city center, more or less depending on traffic. There are a couple of ways to get there: car, public transportation (with multiple subways you have to take), or a tour bus. We had picked out the latter option, it being the easiest one and…. well, we did not regret it, because traveling in this bus was kind of cool.
After a little over an hour and a half trip we spent watching the first Harry Potter movie, we arrived at the studios. Just a step out of our bus and we were already in a very Harry Potter-y atmosphere, the walls alongside the studios plastered with posters we recognized from the movies. It was a gloomy, foggy kind of morning and therefore I only took that picture of the studios sign as we went out of the studios in the afternoon.
The Entrance & The Great Hall
The entrance to the studios was just as magical as I expected it to be, somehow even more impressive than ever. The music from the movies came on as we walked in, the giant dragon above our heads welcomed us. Needless to say, I was already impressed and giddy and kind of out of my mind and it was like 10 in the morning. That would be a fun day.
Finally, we entered the tour, following the small crowd gathering at the entrance. We walked alongside hallways filled with pictures and behind the scenes pictures of each of the 8th movies, posters in every language possible, the cupboard under the stairs.
Then, we disappeared in a closed room I wasn’t allowed to take pictures of, where a member of the tour’s staff introduced us to the studios, alongside with a fun video. Then, we disappeared in another movie-like room where I wasn’t allowed to take pictures, either, but, well… the chills. We went from seeing a short movie of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint to, well, this.
This was the moment that the studios felt real, this room, everything. This was the moment I kind of felt like crying, to be honest. Standing in front of that door, opening it and stepping into the Great Hall, still decorated with everything Halloween. The pumpkins, flying in the air, the long tables, the actors’ costumes spreaded all around. Even if we could see the mechanisms of it all, even if they were just this, costumes on lifeless mannequins… it still felt magical.
We unfortunately had to quit the Great Hall a little too soon (since they monitor it for it not to be too crowded), so we headed to the next part of the Studios: the Interior Sets.
The Interior Sets
From the costumes of the Yule Ball which were absolutely stunning, to the moving staircases, the Gryffondor common room, Dumbledore’s office and Hagrid’s Hut… we got to see so much, in so many details. Everything was stunningly impressive, really. The details in each of the rooms, all of the incredible props, from the Golden Cup to every single Horcruxe there was, to the Pensine and the Portkey…You could really see the stunning work of every people working on this movie.
The flying car and brooms, Hagrid’s motorcycle, the Weasley’s kitchen, Tom Riddle’s tombstone: we got to see so, so much of the movies in this single space, it was amazing to see it all living right in front of your eyes.
The Forbidden Forest
Okay, so my pictures aren’t that great for the Forbidden Forest, but I also feel like it’s a space you have to be in, to really experience. Though that’s true for the entire studios.
The Forbidden Forest was chilling, filled with a dark, cold, foggy atmosphere and music, where you meet creatures of all sorts: centaurs, hippogriffs, patronuses… and even, well, aerm, spiders. Like, giant spiders and small spiders coming from above you. I’m sorry. I didn’t take pictures of the spiders and… I didn’t even look. I’m terrified of spiders okay.
Platform 9 3/4
We headed out of the spidery, gloomy forest to step onto Platform 9 3/4 and to hop on the Hogwarts Express.
Literaly. We didn’t only get to stare at the train, looking exactly like it did in the movies, waiting for us, but we got to step in (!!!). The train had 8 compartments, one for each of the movies and each of them was done up with every little prop of each of the 8th movies, which was amazing.
Exterior Sets: Privet Drive & the Knight Bus
After admiring some incredible props from the movies, newspapers and actual books, letters and ugh just so many incredible details, we stepped into the cold, foggy London weather to check out the Exterior Sets. We discovered the gigantic Knight Bus, one we couldn’t visit from inside, but was still fairly gigantic from outside.
We discovered 4, Privet Drive and its interior, the staircase, the letters flying all around…
We spotted James and Lily’s house, the bridge from Hogwarts, some chess pieces and the flying car.
We went back inside to discover the work of everyone on every single creature ever created for the movie. From Goblins to Dragons, Mandragores and the magical creatures in the Great Lake… there was so much to see and so much to learn, from the time it took to create masks and props to the time it took to put them on the actors, sometimes over 3 hours.
Gringotts & The Vaults
Gringotts and The Vaults were probably one of my favorite parts of the studios, though it’d be hard to pick one thing. I just feel like Gringotts was so damn impressive, I was amazed, even more than usual. It was like stepping into a movie, into the movie, really. Everything was grand and stunningly real with so much details, I felt like Harry stepping into the bank for the first time.
We discovered Bellatrix’s vault next, once again staged exactly like in the movies.
We weren’t ready for our next stop, let me tell you. You know, in the story. Harry, Ron and Hermione go to Gringotts. Get into Bellatrix’s vault. You remember what happens next, right? The pounding on the bank’s floors, the goblins startled. The tension of that freaking scene in the movie. Before that dragon gets loose and destroys everything.
Well. That happened in the studios, too. With stunning effects making you feel like you’ve just stepped into that movie scene, for real. No pictures here, it’s really something you have to experience live.
After all the emotions of Gringotts, we were lucky enough to step into Diagon Alley as no one was there, allowing me to take deserted pictures of the little paved road and little shops, once again incredibly detailed and beautiful.
Our last stop in the tour was the Model Room, once again showing us the behind the scenes of building up the movies and their decor. We got to see almost every single decor, from the Astronomy Tower to The Burrow to the Three Broomsticks, stunningly done as little models. If I had to do these kind of things… well I would never because I lack the patience, so my admiration is great.
The last room of the tour was the most impressive of them all, and another moment where, as a Harry Potter fan, I felt overcome by emotion upon seeing it all. It’s a gigantic model of the Hogwarts castle, probably over twice my size, in absolutely incredible details and, I don’t know, it made me feel very emotional okay.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, of the movies, of the books, of both, visit the studios. If you’re a movie fan, visit the studios, too. I’ve always adored the series and seeing it come to life – or, well, be a little destroyed, obviously, by all the mechanisms showing – was one of the best experiences of my life.
Even if you can see all the ropes of it all, even if you can see the costumes, the way magic is created, on screen, every single step of it still felt magical and only made my love and admiration for every single person working on these movies stronger. Everyone from the big actors we all know and love to the designers and make up artists and architects working on it all… there’s just so much. So much happening behind the scenes, behind the screen that you discover in the tour, really. It all felt magical and I hope I can go back there someday.
Are you a Harry Potter fan?
Did you visit the Harry Potter Studios in London? Or any other Harry Potter attraction in the world? What did you think of it? Would you like to go there? Let me know in comments!