A couple of Saturdays I found myself back in merry old London. This time, however, I was not there to buy Lush (although I did buy some. I have a problem okay?) Oh no no no no, This time I was there to refuel my Harry Potter obsession which, regrettably, has been dormant for several years. But, the big question is, did the tour remind me of the love for Harry Potter which I once felt? Well, I would be lying if I said no because the obsession burns within me like a bad case of diarrhea. Hmm, perhaps I could have used a more flattering simile?
Mayhem At the Ministry. I Mean Mayhem in London
Before we even got to the tour we found ourselves in a spot of trouble. According to our satellite navigation system, it was only going to take an hour and a half to get to the tour. The ingenious sat-nav (I say “ingenious” with the same enthusiasm as Snape does) did not anticipate the amount of traffic due to road works. It took us an hour to move ten miles! And this delay meant that we were going to be late! On the website it recommends that you arrive twenty minutes early and that late comers cannot be guaranteed a spot on the next tour. This caused a few arguments, but eventually we called up the Warner Bros. Studio and told them the situation. They told us to “get there as safely and as fast as possible” and that they would put us on the next one. Thumbs up for customer service!
The Writing on the wall. I Mean the Video Projected on a Wall
After a little bit of queuing we finally started the tour. The first part is a small talk in a dark room with loads of screens showing Harry Potter film posters. I made a funny from shouting “Lord of the Rings” when the tour lady asked “so who can have a guess at who we are all here to learn about today?” We watched a short video and then we were off into an auditorium. Here we all sat down. After being teased by the tour dude–who said we were going to watch all eight Harry Potter films back to back– we actually started watching another video. This time about Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson’s time on the set. I can remember thinking that their acting in the video was pretty terrible, but who cares? They did a good job in the films. As the video ended the film screen vanished and behind it was the doors to Hogwarts Castle.
Through the Trap Door. I Mean Through The Castle Doors
Through the doors we found ourselves in the Great Hall. What surprised me was that the tiles on the floor are real. I expected them to CG them in. I later learned that this is because anything other than a real stone floor would not have been able to take the weight of all the extras. Tables run down the room with plates, cups and tasty treats on them. The teachers table, Dumbledore’s chair, the house hourglasses and some of the characters customers are on the stage area at the back of the hall. However, there aren’t a billion stars or candles floating in the air above us like there are in the films. These are added in with special effects. The hall looks a lot smaller than it does on screen, but that does not go to say that it is any less impressive. Being able to stand in the actual Great Hall was bloomin’ marvelous.
Of course there are loads more sets to see. You get to see the Chamber of Secrets door, the Gryffindor common room, the potions dungeon, Hogwarts gates, Umbridge’s office, the Ministry of Magic, the Knight bus, tons of the giant chess pieces, Godric’s Hollow, the Hogwarts Bridge, Aragog, Private Drive, the Hogwarts Express and many proclamation boards. The list could go on for several roles of parchment. Oh, and you even get to walk through Diagon Alley! And there is a miniature model of Hogwarts.
Talons and Tea Leaves… I Mean Butterbeer and More Butterbeer
I won’t bore you too much talking about Butterbeer, but at the tour you can purchase it. What does it taste like? Well, it tastes a little bit like cream soda and the froth on the top is like a caramel flavored dream topping. Overall, it is very refreshing. It is quite sweet though so if you have children and are on a four o’clock tour it might a good idea to miss this one as they might be bouncing off the walls on a sugar high. Shame it wasn’t warm like it is in the books though.
The Parting of the Ways. I Mean, Well, I Mean the Parting of the Ways
Before you leave you have the option to visit the gift shop. The gift shop is okay priced. (Well, standard gift shop price, so slightly more than you want to pay, but you’ll pay it anyway.) And I have to admit that I left with a lot more stuff than I thought I would. They have house hoodies, Bertie Bots Beans, Chocolate Frogs, Sugar Quills, cuddly Aragog plush toys, stuffed Crookshanks, Pop figures, replica film props, posters, badges, scarves and flags. They sell so much awesome stuff that you might have to enchant your car boot with an expansion charm to get it all home.
Overall, if you are thinking about going to Warner Bros. Studio Tour, then I say do it. It is an unforgettable experience and is well worth the admission cost. Unlike a monopoly board– where it’s age range used to range from eight to eighty– the Harry Potter tour can be enjoyed by all. I am already planning another trip back to see everything again!