4 midnight movie premieres. (1 in costume.)
1 midnight book release.
6 books read in 2 weeks, and the 7th in 2 days. Plus multiple re-reads.
2 trips to the most magical place on earth, the Wizarding World in Florida.
And now… 3.5 magical hours at the Leavesden studios where the 8 Potter movies were filmed. (Get your tickets here.)
I’ve been waiting to go on this studio tour since I heard they were opening it to the public. And I knew I had to come as soon as I was accepted into my intern abroad program in London. I asked the one intern left in the office at the end of the summer to go with me because fangirling alone is just not as fun as fangirling with a friend.
Vincent as my witness, I was skipping and bouncing on the way to the tour, and the whole way through.
About the Harry Potter Studio Tour
The Leavesden studios are where the Potter franchise filmed for over 10 years! Since JK Rowling was still writing, the production team saved most of their sets…. just in case.
This was lucky for all of us since on March 31, 2012, Warner Brothers opened this experience for fans on two brand-new soundstages with a back lot full of Potter sets, props, and memories.
The studio tour recommends you take 2 hours to make it through the tour…. but Merlin’s beard, there’s no way I could make it through that fast!
Getting to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour
Studio Tour Dr, Leavesden WD25 7LR, UK
Getting to the tour from central London is easy. There is free parking if you have access to a car. However, most people arrive by train. I got on the overground at Euston station in London all the way to Watford Junction. Depending on the train you take, your journey could be 20 – 40 minutes.
At Watford Junction, there is a cash-only shuttle service to and from the studio. The bus runs every 20 minutes. A return ticket is only £2.50. But you do have to have your studio entrance ticket to get on the shuttle.
Making My Way through the Studio Tour
As you might be able to guess, it definitely lived up to expectations! Seeing original sets, costumes, props, models, designs, and effects were amazing. There was an intro video recorded by the trio, of course, and we entered the through the great hall set. (Unfortunately, we could not see the sky in the ceiling.)
Daniel’s first ever set of robes (and that pointy hat!), along with other tiny wardrobe pieces, was adorable. The entire tour is littered with costumes on mannequins and models of different characters.
I suggest purchasing the ticket with the audio guide and souvenir book. As you make your way around, you can listen to different explanations about the making of sets and scenes. This gives you much more insight than the plaques stationed by displays.
One of my favorite sections, of course, was the green screen section. I got to sit on a broom and fly through different scenes. (I specifically asked for a Ravenclaw robe after they tried to hand me a Gryffindor one – they were kind enough to go and find it for me!)
The other great interactive section of the tour was getting a chance to follow video instructions from the set’s wand combat
coordinator/coach. I had Hermione’s wand (since Ginny’s wasn’t available, and my favorite is a toss-up between the two), and I’m pretty sure I could have taken the 12-year-olds that went before me in a wizard’s duel.
Really, it doesn’t matter WHAT age you are – you must learn a few wand combat moves. Everyone from school children to their grandparents was having fun with the wands.
Wizarding World Treats & Drinks
I had to get some butterbeer, of course (though they didn’t offer it frozen, which is my favorite from the Orlando park). About halfway through the tour, the soundstage transitions into a cafe that offers butterbeer as well as other, normal, Muggle things to eat. I had eaten lunch on the way up, however, and so wasn’t very hungry. (Update: They’ve added MORE butterbeer-flavored things since I went the first time. Here’s my second visit post.)
The Back Lot & a Few More Things
Their back lot had the outdoor sets, like the wooden bridge at Hogwarts, Number 4 Privet Drive (where everything was perfectly normal, thank you very much), the Knight Bus (which looked way better than taking a plain night bus in London), and Goderic’s Hollow. I would suggest timing your visit to make sure you still have daylight for your time on the back lot, if at all possible. They have lighting, but it is nice to see all the detail by the light of the… er.. daytime London clouds?
If I allow myself, I’ll just excitedly list everything. But I won’t. All in all, it was seriously fantastic. The behind-the-scenes prop design and makeup prep were fascinating. The last portion of the tour gives insight into more of the tiny details, like the paper set models. There is a lot of talent on display at the studio.
The absolute BEST model, of course, was the giant Hogwarts castle they used with a green screen for exterior shots during the movies. Music was playing, there was dramatic lighting, and it was so incredibly detailed. A few people definitely got misty-eyed while walking around… Myself included.
I was still (literally) skipping along with excitement when we left. (I was suddenly 12 again. For the entire day.)
The ONLY thing that disappointed me: You could not hear Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom like the theme park. (*Ahem* Easy fix, right, Warner Brothers?)
Now – who is ready for a Potter movie marathon?!
“I solemnly swear I am up to no good.” -Forge
Related Post: The Most Magical Place on Earth: WB’s Potter Studio Tour (My second visit!)