So last week I went on the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Awesome! It’s well documented that i’m a bit of a nerd. Is it right for a 28 year old man to like Harry Potter? … maybe not, but I do so well erm … huffletuff.
So I should probably give fair warning here. **Spoiler alert** and all that jazz. If you dont want to see whats on the tour stop reading this page now. I have a fair few pictures and I wouldn’t want to ruin it for you.
Right now thats out the way lets begin shall we. Watford (where the studio’s are located) isnt exactly london so this post is somewhat of a lie, Watford is actually outside of the M25 and so not even greater London. But, its only an hours train ride from central London so its not too far. I’ve heard American, Aussies, South Africans refer to a 3hr drive being ‘just down the road’, so London to Watford must be ‘just next door’.
Adult (Ages 16 years and above) - £28.00
Child (Ages 5 to 15 years) - £21.00
Under 4′s (Tickets are required for children aged 4 and under) – £Free
Family (either two adults with two children, or one adult with three children) - £83.00
For all other info check out the official website - http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/
The tour itself is split into 3 parts, 2 indoors and 1 outdoor. Before the tour however we were given the usual health and safety talks followed by a short cinema screening in which the films 3 main characters – Harry, Ron and Hermoine – explained a wee bit about the scales of the films and what it was like spending 10 years transforming JK Rowlings words into big screen material.
Upon the ending of the short cinema session, the screen dissappeared into the cealing and all of a sudden the doors to the great hall were in front of us … Ah, magic!
Part 1 – The sets and insider secrets
So first stop was Hogwarts grand hall. Here’s we were given a bit more of a chat and the guides gave us a few facts about the films, explained that any children on the tour could earn Hogwarts passports stamps as they made their way around the different studio sets, and that they should look out for several snitches (Quidich) that are hidden throughout the studios.
Once past the great hall, a number of other movie sets were open to look around, most with interesting quotes, facts, videos and interactive games to accompany. The studio wasnt overly busy so we got to see pretty much everything, we did have the occasional child zooming in and out of our legs though.
In this first section I was particuarly impressed with the directors section (interviews with each) and the design section.
The second section of the tour took place outside. To be honest it was more of a refreshments area (Butterbeer £3 a glass), but with a few attractions from the film scattered around to keep you amused. There was the tripple decker bus, the car Ron and Harry drove (badly) to Hogwarts when they missed the train, and Hagrids bike and side car. The later of those two were open to have pictures in.
Also outside were Harrys House, the large chess pieces from the first film, the Hogwarts bridge and Tom Riddles grave.
Engineering, Design and Models Section
The final part of the tour took place back in doors and was probably my favourite part. This section mostly centered around the design of the film. Gadgets, models, drawings, concept art lined the walls that were beyond Diagon Alley.
Having occasionally dabbled in graphic design, this section was right up my street, the detail in the paper models was amazing! There was also a section were it was explained how robotics had been used in the films – the dragons heads for example were mostly robotic rather than CGI.
The final room on the tour contained probably the prized asset. The room was huge and within it was an XXX model of Hogwarts, the model used in a lot of filming. Much like in LOTR, the model was filmed and then details such as the weather added in by the CGI teams after. The model itself took 40 days to make.
All around the outside of the model are touchscreen applications which gives details on certain area’s of Hogwarts and how that area of the model was made and utilized in the films.
So, is this tour for Harry Potter buffs only? Maybe … but I would argue that if you have a high level of interest in movies in general, the filming and design techniques exhibited throughout this tour are very interesting, and I actually think I learnt quite a lot. Yes there is a lot here aimed and the younger generation, but there was also an adult focus in areas such as design and engineering.
Put it this way, if you like HP, go do the tour. If you hate HP dont. If you’re not bothered either way about HP, but have the time and cash, there are a lot worse a’ days out in London that you could choose.