I’ve been a fan of the Harry Potter books and films since I was around 10. Waiting for a new book or film from the series really constituted a part of my teenage years. It was strange and wonderful, because I really grew up with the stories and the characters. The actors in the films are my age as well, so I grew up along with them, too. I don’t ask myself the question: book or film? I love both of them in a different way. There is the book series and the film franchise (have a look at my post about Adaptations on that as well). I get excited about both. One of the great things to get excited about here in the UK is the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Leavesden Studio Tour. Join the Magic!
Getting there is easy from London, but many of us have to get to London first. Don’t forget to stop by King’s Cross Station… They actually opened a merchandising shop next to their “Platform 9 ¾” trolley. So those that don’t get to go to the Studio Tour just now can find loads of magical items that will make your heart soar. Or sore. Because you can’t just get all of it… The Studio Tour needs to be booked in advance, just to warn you, which you can do on their website. It’s a good system, though, as it ensures that everyone has a decent amount of space and the tour isn’t overrun. It keeps things nice and simple.
So what actually is the Studio Tour? It’s like an interactive museum of the making of the Harry Potter films. There are loads of props, sets and costumes to see and the super-friendly staff offer interesting background information. Or you can get an audio guide to make sure you don’t miss anything. You will be so impressed, feel nostalgic and get excited by all the familiar sights everywhere around you. You can get up close with Tom Riddle’s Diary or look at all the lovely details in the Gryffindor Common Room you have never
noticed on screen.
The tour starts with a little brief by the staff and then you are led to a cinema where you will watch a lovingly created “trailer” for the whole of Harry Potter and the tour ahead. Prepare to be utterly amazed when the screen lifts and reveals the entrance to the Great Hall itself! You will get another few interesting facts from a member of staff here and then you are ready to explore the rest of the tour. There is one massive hall that will take you a good while to cover. From there you get to an outside area, where you will find the Potter’s house and even Privet Drive. You can buy Butterbeer here, so don’t miss out on that!
The next hall is loaded with even more filmmaking secrets and one of the highlights for me definitely was Diagon Alley. Simply beautiful! Another great feature is the Hogwarts Castle “miniature” you get to see at the end. The lights, the music, the massive model, the memories… a truly magical moment. The final room displays wand boxes with all the names of the people involved in making these films. What a great idea! After the tour you will probably want to spend loads of time in the shop. They have everything you ever wanted EVER. You really shouldn’t let me go into a merchandising shop…
Sometimes they have special events, like “Wand Week” or “The Dark Arts”, where you get even more background information on these special topics. It’s worth coming back again and again. I’ve been twice now and I am definitely going a third and probably fourth time. It’s a bit like Disneyland. You get into that space and strangely feel at home there. It just feels right. Like a place you are supposed to be (if that makes sense).
Apart from the shop, the things to see and to taste you can also go and take some unique pictures. You get into a green screen room with your favourite Hogwarts House robe and have a ride on a broomstick. You can watch yourself fly over Hogwarts and London while you are sitting on there. And then it’s picture time! There is also the family option in the form of the Weasley’s old car. Fun for everyone!
The Harry Potter Studio Tour is a place to revert back to childhood again and believe in magic, if just for three odd hours. The tour gives you the unique opportunity to get into the films on a different level and it’s definitely a great way to spend a day in/around London. I heartily recommend it to all Harry Potter fans – it’s great fun to explore Hogwarts with your friends. Have a magical tour!