As a longtime Harry Potter fan, Alison finally got to check out the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London – The Making of Harry Potter… and she did it in style. Read on to find out more…
I’ve been a huge Harry Potter fan, ever since The Philosopher’s Stone book suddenly erupted and became THE book that everyone was reading. I remember reading the books on holiday, on the tube to work, and actually when the final book came out, I was so desperate to finish it and find out what happened in the end, I’d spend my lunch hours at work reading!
So I’ve been dying to go to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London for ages! Even though it’s fairly close to us (just the other side of London, in Watford) I hadn’t ever got myself organised enough to buy tickets and go.
Which is why I was very excited to hear about City Wonders’ special guided tour of the attraction. The only fully guided tour available, the City Wonders experience starts in central London, where you’re met at escorted by train to Watford. We had a bubbly Hogwarts scarf wearing City Wonders rep meet us, and she chatted all the way to Watford about the books and the films – getting everyone very excited about the tour.
Once in Watford, we were met by our two tour guides who took us on the Harry Potter branded bus to the Warner Bros Studios. The whole thing immediately struck me as being very professional – with the guides explaining how the day would work in a friendly and clear manner.
I’m sure that the Warner Bros Studio Tour is brilliant, even if you just book a ticket direct with them and walk around it at your own pace, but having the City Wonders guide made it really easy and I knew that I wouldn’t miss anything. We were given headsets to wear, which meant we could always hear our guide as he talked us through each part of the studio tour.
The first section of the tour is watching a film, with the Harry Potter movie producers talking about discovering this amazing book and deciding to turn it into a film, then we moved through to a cinema where we watched the film’s stars, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint talk about their experiences filming. It’s after this, when the proper tour starts, that the City Wonders guided tour kicks in. After a walk around the Great Hall, with the sorting hat, long tables for each Hogwarts’ house to sit on, and models of the teachers at the end, it was time to explore the make up and costume departments, before moving onto different sets from the movies.
It was brilliant, having an expert talk us through each set, telling us facts about how they were built, sharing secrets that made the movie magic possible and telling us about things that happened during filming. It felt a bit like watching those TV documentaries, about the filming of a movie, but even better because we were there in real life, walking through the sets and able to ask questions about everything we saw.
Of course, the part of the tour that everyone gets most excited about is seeing the Hogwarts Express! It felt so special to see the train, climb aboard and pose for a photo running into Platform 9 3/4. We were given a bit of time to explore on our own, in this area, and there are a few different things you can do, like take part in a green screen visual effects session onboard the train.
After a thorough look around, it was time to have a butter beer and a break in the Studio Tour cafe (where the food is great and not too outrageously priced) plus have a wander around the backlot area, where the Knight Bus and Privet Drive is. A butter beer is included in the City Wonders ticket, and you don’t have to queue to get it – bonus!
The next part of the tour focuses on the visual effects – with films to watch featuring Warren Davies and an up-close look at the prosthetics used to transform the actors. More filming secrets were divulged and our City Wonders guide gave us extra info that other guests wouldn’t have heard.
Then we had a chance to wander up Diagon Alley – the detail that has gone into designing and building this set is amazing. Lastly, we were able to see the huge model of Hogwarts which is used for exterior shots, in the movies. It looked incredible, all lit up.
After the end of the tour, City Wonders guests are allowed re-entry into the whole thing, to wander about at leisure and take it all in again. Such a great idea, because there really is a lot to see and digest.
NEED TO KNOW
The City Wonders guided tour of Warner Bros Studio Tour: The Making Of Harry Potter takes up to five hours, including train travel from central London. It costs from £129 per adult, £119 per child (5-15) and £29 per infant (0-4) and includes your return train ticket from London Euston, escorted by a City Wonders team member, timed entry into the studio tour, priority re-entry into the attraction, a dedicated studio tour guide and a butter beer.
Alison was invited to experience the City Wonders tour for the purpose of this review and as always, all views are our own.