Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Harry Potter Studio Tour

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn't stop the January blues from creeping in. Even though I started the year filled with excitement and optimism, it wasn't enough to combat the dreariest month of the year. Thankfully I had a trip to the Harry Potter studio tour with Dan to kick start the remainder of the year in style.

The Warner Brothers studio is based in Leavesden, just outside of London. You can get a fast train from Euston to Watford Junction where you hop on a shuttle bus straight to the studio. Naturally I managed to get us on the Overground train which stopped at every stop along the way. Panicked that we would be turned away for missing our slot, I called the Customer Services team who kindly reassured me that we would be able to join the next tour. Phew!

We finally arrived chilly but giddy (ok, that was just me). The entrance hall was decorated with portrait photos of the cast, including a picture I'm sure Daniel Radcliffe is delighted that it greets guests:

Who knew Mad-Eye Moody could look so smouldering?!

Seeing as there are several little surprises from the start and throughout the tour, I won't spoil it for you by detailing them here in case you're planning a trip. Annoyingly I found it difficult to capture good quality snaps because of the weird blue lighting - great for creating the perfect magical atmosphere, terrible for shutterbugs. Anyway, I'm going to shut up and let you enjoy some visuals:

Awks photo in front of the Professors...

Between the two indoor buildings there's an outdoor area where you can refuel with hotdogs and butterbeer. 

Once you've downed the sickly sweet but strangely warming concoction, there are a variety of props and sets for the perfect, cringey photo opp:

I didn't realise that there was another building which was a very pleasant surprise. Especially as I hadn't seen any snow yet so felt cheated. I walked up to one of the staff and asked where the snow was and they said it was Hogwarts that was covered. Cue my dropping jaw and a squeal of excitement "there's more?!". "Yes, once you've gone through Diagon Alley, there's Hogwarts." But we had these creatures to venture past first:

Luckily there was light at the end of the creepy tunnel in the form of a life sized Diagon Alley! The shop fronts are created with such intricate detail that you would swear that they're real. As a Potter geek, I had a lot of fun spotting the shops that feature in the books and films such as Flourish & Blott's for school books, Madame Malkin's for robes and the Weasley's Wizard Wheezes joke shop. I'm secretly hoping that one day they'll turn them into real shops where you can purchase wizarding goods, replacing the gift shop.

And waiting at the end of the tour is the pièce de résistance - a large scale model of Hogwarts! This is what they used to film the scenic shots of the castle in front of a green screen so they could superimpose the landscape later. Although this wasn't it's original home, it was dismantled and pieced together in the Warner Brothers studio over 8 weeks.

Despite taking 4 hours to explore the studio, I was a little heartbroken when we reached the end of the tour. I really enjoyed seeing all the hard work and amazing talent that went into the making of the sets, props, designs, CGI and costumes. These pictures only provide a glimpse - I took over 400 photos in total! Even if you're not a Potter-phile, I highly recommend that you add the studio tour to your list of days out. Dan only just watched the films properly a month before we went and he really enjoyed it too. The tickets may seem a little pricey at £30.00 per adult but it is an entire day, tonnes to see, well organised and a lot of fun. 

So embrace your inner child, get a group of friends together (or drag your other half like I did!) and book here.

Have you been to the Harry Potter studio tour?