I was that girl that lined up for all the midnight releases of the newest books, promising that I would make it last at least a week before gobbling it up in a few hours. Same goes for all the movies. I may have took spirit week a bit too far by cosplaying as a character when our Homecoming theme was Harry Potter. Having been a self-declared Harry Potter fan for the majority of my life, however, did not prepare me for how old or outdated I felt on the trek to the Harry Potter Studios just outside of London.
There I was, waiting for the special Harry Potter bus just outside Watford Junction, surrounded by people who fidgeted with excitement at being a ride away from the closest thing to the Wizarding World. It’s not that I was too OLD for this… since a lot of the fidgety ones were a bit older than me; I actually had no idea why I felt mundane about something I’ve looked forward to ever since the grand opening. Two years ago!
Sure, it had felt a little weird on the Potter Trail in Edinburgh, but I’d chalked that up to our tour guide wearing a full robe, wand included.
However, in between the children pushing open the doors to the Great Hall and finally stepping foot into the hall myself, I was whisked back to my childhood… I WAS IN HOGWARTS!
Minus the ceiling (the biggest disappointment) and the professor’s faces, it felt eerily real. I felt lie a first-year, heading into the Great Hall to get sorted! If only they had huge amounts of actors sitting at the tables the whole time, watching you stride in. But I understand… budget and all that.
The Studio Tour does a great job of appealing to both children and adults, mostly by bringing out the geek children in us (kidding, we were loser children, not geek children). I handed over an additional 4 pounds so that I could have the audio guide, although the sights and little plaques themselves would’ve kept me plenty busy for hours.
The Harry Potter Studio Tours has this organized way of scheduling visitors so the building isn’t too crowded at any time. At the time of purchase, which you should do online, you’re prompted to choose a time for your tour. It’s usually in half-hour intervals and, though they don’t tell you this, you can be up to 30 minutes late. Confession: I was 40 minutes late, but thankfully it was off-season.
My favorites were the fully recreated rooms. By having whole rooms preserved in the way they were when filming gives people the unique ability to be momentarily transported into the Harry Potter universe—as long as you can imagine out the hundreds of people gawking with you. It’s like a Harry Potter version of IKEA!
Although the huge “Magic is Might” column that you see in the Ministry of Magic isn’t too shabby either!
Or Diagon Alley…
All right, you got me, I loved every minute of it!
The outdoor portion was quite impressive… which is where you’d find 4 Privet Drive, the Knight Bus, Godric’s Hollow, parts of the Hogwarts Bridge, the chess pieces, and the Weasley Car. Still naming these things by memory… I don’t know whether to be impressed or saddened that what I learned in public education hasn’t even come close to how well I know the Harry Potter universe.
BUT I do have a favorite. Warner Bros, like the last film, you know how to end with a bang. But before we get to that, we were shown the behind-the-scenes countless makeup figureheads.
And finally, my favorite part:
The whole production came together to create a FULL miniature model of Hogwarts and her grounds. And when I say mini, I mean spanning 50m x 50m in minute detail. I entered this room and stood there at the entrance for a full 5 minutes before I could move.
To spice up an already spicy bit of fanage, the lights projected onto the castle changed colors every once in a while. Ever wondered what it would look like washed in blue? You don’t have to wonder anymore!
I know I’ve shown you guys a lot of the photos but trust me, photos are nothing compared to being there first hand.
Location: best accessed through a visit in London! From there, you can catch either the tube or the Overground to Watford Junction. King’s Langley station is highly not recommended, given that the shuttle bus does not run there. From Watford Junction, head outside to the bus area. Look for station #4. There should be Harry Potter posters and enthused geeks all over. The journey from Watford Junction to the studio is about 15 minutes.
Time: You should plan to give yourself at least 4 hours here. There is so much information and displays to geek out about! And they usually have some special display or guests, depending on the season, so look out for those too.
Have you ever visited the Warner Bros’ Harry Potter Studio Tour (that mouthful though…)? What did you think? If not, do you think you’d ever want to?