I love, love, LOVED the Harry Potter Studio Tour!
So you don’t like Harry Potter? Or have you never read it?
You see, I don’t like Twilight. I don’t like The Hunger Games. I’ve never read either.
I digress. My point is, just like the eclectic themes and morals within the literary series itself, the Harry Potter Studios in Watford has something for everyone, like the boy who lived, or not.
I have proof to this point. I took along my partner, 33 years of age. Never having read a Rowling novel nor watched a Harry Potter film in full in his life, he was “coming along for me”. Boy, did this change quicker than I thought. Let’s just say, on return, he’s watched all the films, allowed me to hang my Potter quotes poster up in the living room and begun to read the books whilst taking to pointing out Harry Potter branded bits and bobs when out shopping.
I’d wanted to go to the studios for an age – sadly for me, no one I’m close to is as huge a Potter fan as me – actually, none of them are fans at all. Having managed to obtain two tickets for a promotional evening tour, I persuaded the other half to come along.
I was excited just driving in to the car park. As if watching the beginning credits of one of the films, the sharp-edged lettering reading ‘Harry Potter’ hung above the Warner Bros logo, overshadowing the front of the building; that, coupled with the rolling grey thunder clouds turning day into night, added to the pathetic fallacy of the moment. I was in heaven!
Through the atrium you are ushered into a movie theatre. A film plays; you learn about J.K. Rowling’s journey to getting Harry Potter published, the publisher’s initial views and reactions, and the impact of the book and film series that have become worldwide phenomenon. Harry, Ron and Hermione welcome you to Hogwarts: the screen rolls back to reveal a grand wooden door; you have arrived at Hogwarts. An enthusiastic presenter dares you to ask them any question you can think of, anything at all: they WILL know the answer. You feel that you’re knowledge is pathetic, wishing you had swotted up beforehand.
You take a moment to photograph the uniforms and costumes in the grand hall, (I’ve been told that on seasonal occasions, the ceiling is bewitched as in the films), and wander through to the next part of the tour, an enormous hall filled with props from the films; the golden snitch, various wands, wigs, Snape’s Potions classroom, the Gryffindor Common Room – I could go on and on.
Behind the scenes prosthesis and costumes, and Nearly Headless Nick’s head are a sight to behold. Breaking for a moment to enjoy an inclusive meal of hotdogs and diet coke, and a complimentary butter beer (you get to keep the mug – yay!), We continued outside to the set of Privet Drive and the Dursley’s house, next to the Night Bus and the infamous bridge.
After a walk along the Hogwarts express in which each carriage is a different scene from the movies, we stepped into the Forbidden Forest, met by Buckbeak and spooked by Aragog as he crawled out of his tree.
Then you get to walk down Diagonal Alley to see the Weasley’s Joke Shop and Ollivander’s Wands amongst other buildings.
My favourite part of the whole experience had to be having the opportunity to fly a broom across London dressed as a Hogwart’s student. The gift shop was also incredible – I spent a little too much money but it was so worth it: Voldermort’s Wand, a Chocolate Frog, a Chocolate Wand, a poster and various photos and the video of me flying the broom. I’m already looking to go back and would highly recommend an evening booking as it’s value for money and I got to see so much more with dinner thrown in.