Star Trek fans are called Trekkies… so does that mean Harry Potter fans should be called Potheads? Now while you ponder on that, I’m going to tell you about Jen and my trip to Warner Bros Studios for the Harry Potter tour.
I have to admit that I was a bit dubious about the tour. I liked the idea but if I’m going to pay £28 for anything (plus train fare to Watford and bus returns), I’m going to expect a type of magic that’s hard to deliver. I’m a bit of a cheapskate, what can I say?
I have to say in this situation, I was not disappointed. If you are indeed a Pothead and have read all the books and watched all the films and been utterly mesmerised by the incredible sets, this is something you need to see at some point in your life.
The tour starts in the Great Hall, which is actually quite a bit smaller than it looks but still pretty spectacular. At that point we were being shepherded about by tour guides, so friendly and upbeat that they were bordering on American. I have to admit strongly considering hoofing one of them in the face.
Fortunately once you leave the Great Hall you’re allowed to be your own tour guide and avoid being ejected for GBH and unlike a lot of tours, they let you take as many photos as you like.
The tour moves onto a section containing indoor sets like the Gryffindor Common Room, Hagrid’s Hut, The Burrow and The Potions Classroom. There are also piles of props from snitches to rememberalls and some amazing bits from the Ministry of Magic. If you’re feeling rich you can go and try out flying on a broom in front of a green screen with a video to take away at a cost of £12. It also depends on how patient you are. We couldn’t face the hour-long queue.
Next up is the outdoor sets with the opportunity to try out some butterbeer. It looked a bit grim but it was surprisingly delicious – a bit like crème soda with a creamy foam on top. The outdoor sets are a bit more tactile and you can jump onto Hagrid’s bike, ride the Knightbus and knock at the front door of 4 Privett Drive. We took full advantage.
We couldn’t help but be dazzled by the amazing “creature” workshop where giant spiders, dinosaurs and dementors dangle above you, not to mention a life-size moving model of Buckbeak and the animatronic Hagrid head worn by the former rugby player who played the giant during standing shots. Even with all this I have to admit that my favourite thing in the workshop was the Monster Book of Monsters, which attacked at the press of a button.
We didn’t think it could get much better, but when you step out of the creature workshop you enter the actual full-size Diagon Alley, complete with all the shop fronts you’d expect, including Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. It’s hard to explain just how cool it is.
The final main part of the tour is the scale model of Hogwarts used for all long shots of the castle in the films. It is colossal and also absolutely breathtaking – probably about the size of my flat – and you can walk all the way around it. Let’s just say we took a lot of photos.
Of course no tour is complete without a visit of the gift shop. If you are coming with kids I would suggest avoiding it like the plague, unless you’re feeling very wealthy. It is full of very cool stuff and it’s very, very expensive. We didn’t come out unscathed. I bought a deck of wizard cards to add to Paul and my ever increasing collection and Jen got some house badges, while grumbling that she had been sorted into Gryffindor on Pottermore. The spirit of individuality is strong with that one. I, for one, am happy to be in Ravenclaw.
Overall a totally magical experience definitely worth the admission price.