WARNER BROS. STUDIO TOUR LONDON – THE MAKING OF HARRY POTTER
Having been enthralled by franchise cinema from an early age, seeing the likes of Jurassic Park in cinemas multiple times at an age when most children have yet to see the inside of their nearest multiplex, I have similarly attended my fair share of conventions, touring film attractions and making-of exhibitions. Naturally they have varied in size, scope, quality and authenticity, but none of them have achieved the scale or excellence of what Warner Bros. are offering with their superb making of experience at Leavesden Studios.
When looking at film-related ventures and experiences for the new year, there really is nowhere better to start than this incomparable Harry Potter experience which, thanks to it’s diversity and depth of content provides something the whole family can appreciate, be they Potter aficionados or clueless muggles who have never seen a minute or read a page of the beloved saga. Naturally, it is fans of the series who will benefit most from this experience, getting to venture through such iconic sets and locales as the Hogwarts Great Hall and Diagon Alley, have a peek into the offices of Professors Dumbledore and Umbridge, Hagrid’s hut, hitch a ride on the Knight Bus and go visit the homes of the wizards themselves – knocking on 4 Privet Drive or peeking into the homely idyll of the Weasley’s Burrow. Costumes, props, prosthetics, creature models, maquettes and much more adorn every inch of the sizeable tour which you are generously permitted to not only photograph at leisure but also experience generally at your own pace (within your allotted time slot).
Everything on offer is leant extra impact and appeal by Leavesden Studios being where all 8 films were made, with the vast majority of what is on display being original items, sets and pieces of genuine Potter history used and seen in the movies. There is none of the mimicry or simucra that often sullies touring exhibitions or similar experiences such as this where one can’t help but question the authenticity of what is on show; everything here looks, feels and decidedly is the genuine article. And even for those who aren’t particular fans of the series, this is a surprisingly engaging and educational look into the craft of moviemaking at it’s most ambitious and elaborate. Where Warner Bros. could quite comfortably have thrown the tour together on the merit of it’s location and content alone, they have admirably gone much further in the sheer amount of detailed information and insight into the moviemaking process provided throughout, and it is so imaginatively and visually presented that it is as equally fascinating and memorable seeing how the real wizards of the Harry Potter movies brought them to life as it is getting to see and experience their creations first-hand.
There is plenty to see and do at ‘The Making of Harry Potter’, and with the opportunity to try Butterbeer, throw yourself into more animated moments such as riding a broomstick or Ron’s flying car from Chamber of Secrets against green screen (photos of which can be purchased at additional costs) and a sizeable post-tour shop featuring an incomparably vast array of Potter merchandise, this is easily an experience which one can put aside a day (or long afternoon) to experience in full. Very young children may grow impatient towards the latter end of the tour when the focus shifts more to the technical and artistic elements of making the films, but if they are fans this will likely be a non-issue, and the finale of the tour itself, the enormous replica model of Hogwarts Castle in it’s entirety, is a stunning and suitable grandiose culmination to a truly magical experience.
Having had the pleasure of experiencing the ‘Wizard World of Harry Potter’ at Universal Studios Islands of Adventure in Florida, last year, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is, thankfully, a very different experience indeed, for all the right reasons. The theme park attraction is a joyous blend of themed and brilliantly executed rollercoasters, restaurants and stores and a must-visit for those fans who are able to, but what is on offer here in Leavesden feels considerably more authentic and more akin to direct access to the imagination of J.K Rowling and the subsequent movies that millions have come to know and love. With cameo appearances from the stars, craftsmen and makers of the movies (in video form, naturally), friendly and approachable tour operators throughout who offer insight, aid and genuine potter passion, and some real flair and innovation in how certain elements of the tour are handled (I shan’t spoil with specifics) there really is no other place one can imagine being more magical and welcoming for a fan of the series, or even those who are merely appreciative of and interested in the astonishing amount of artistry, craft and detail that goes into the production of films such as these.
It’s worth noting that tickets for the attraction must be purchased in advance and are not sold at all at the Studio Tour itself (details on how to do so are detailed below). It is a smart move which allows for set numbers per tour block and avoid any excessive over-crowding, particularly valuable when there is such a plethora of photo opportunities and the like. At £29 for adults and just over £20 for children (up to age 15), with family and group offers available, you are given a completely inimitable and satisfyingly expansive experience for what I believe is a very fair price, particularly, as mentioned, for Potter enthusiasts.
So throw on your robes, grab your wand, jump on your Nimbus 2000 and fly or Portkey your way to Leavesden and experience the magic, majesty and memories of the world of Witchcraft and Wizardry right at the heart of where it was made, and a movie making-of experience that is quite likely one of the very finest in the world.
Tickets for Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter are available via www.wbstudiotour.co.uk and must be pre-booked in advance by selecting tour times throughout the day. The attraction is located just north of London at Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden with fast train links from Euston and shuttle buses for ticket holders to and from Watford Junction.
TM and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc.
Harry Potter Publishing Rights © JKR.
Harry Potter Characters, names and related indicia are trademarks and © Warner Bros. Entertainment Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Press tickets for this visit to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter were provided by Warner Bros. Studio Tour London directly. The author gratefully acknowledges their generous invitation.