My boys are too young to read and watch Harry Potter, but I feel like I grew up with it. In reality, the books didn’t start hitting shelves until I was 19, so it was hardly a childhood thing. My Mum had bought the first book for my brother shortly after it was published, but he didn’t show any interest so I swiped it for a holiday to Thailand. I was so gripped that I took it with me on a day trip to Bangkok – and managed to leave it in the mini bus, one chapter from the end. I bought a new copy as soon as we got back to the UK just so I could find out what happened – and from that moment, I was a self-confessed Harry Potter geek.
My sister, my cousins, and my husband are the same – so when we heard that there was a place just North of London where we could see the sets and costumes with our very own eyes, we obviously bought tickets immediately.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour of ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ is located in Leavesden, just a few miles from the M25. Although we were childless for the day (praise be, it’s always nice once in a while isn’t it?), there were lots of children there – and if your boys are old enough to have read the books and watched the movies, I can guarantee they will be absolutely captivated by the place. We enjoyed every second (bar the bit where it rained as we were waiting for our Hot Dogs, but Warner Bros can’t be blamed for that – at least I don’t think they can, but I wouldn’t be surprised).
I’m not going to talk too much about the tour in this post as I don’t want to spoil all the studio secrets for you, so I will just share my photos and give a short description. If you want the link for booking tickets, scroll to the end of the post.
The lobby – Starbucks also exists here (very helpful if your baby wakes you at 4.30am followed by his brother at 6am – I was first in the queue).
The Cupboard Under The Stairs – located alongside the queue to get into the experience (nb: the queue would move a lot quicker if people weren’t vying to get a photo – I was part of the problem).
The tour starts with The Great Hall. I obviously took the opportunity for a selfie – pretty sure Harry wouldve done the same given an iPhone
Gryffindor common room. I was thinking about it and I am pretty sure I would be in Gryffindor. So this is basically my common room too.
Harry, Ron and Hermione had lots of conversations around this fire place. Remember?
This little wizard was practicing his wand technique in front of a animated screen. Pretty cool for little ones (I think, I hope his parents got that robe in the gift shop).
Snape’s Potion Room. Scary.
One of my favourite sets – The Burrow (home of the Weasley’s).
Hagrid’s Hut. Definitely too small for actual Hagrid so I think they mustve only used this for exterior shots.
Remember Dolores Umbridge? She makes my skin crawl and here are her costumes. The next picture is of her office – apparently they found the furniture at a Arabic furniture store in North London (doesn’t surprise it, we’re used to a bit of glitz in the Middle East).
Then we went outside – and guess what, there was Butterbeer!
Tip re: Butterbeer – don’t drink a whole one on your own. Get someone else to buy one (and therefore pay: bonus) and have a few sips. I was sure I wouldn’t like it, so didn’t get one of my own – and for that reason, I was the only one that liked the stuff as I only had a few sips. That said, the little take-home-with-you tankards are quite cool (£6.95 for the pleasure).
This might look like a normal house, but no – it’s 4 Privet Drive.
The bridge to Hogwarts
My absolute favourite bit of the ENTIRE tour – Diagon Alley. I liked it so much I got another selfie, but this one wasn’t a success so I wont be sharing.
Lots of heads. Unsettling.
The actual Dobby (spell check wants to change this to Bobby – it obviously isn’t a Harry Potter fan).
An actual Death Eater
I am still a bit sad that there isn’t an actual Hogwarts castle where the cast spent months filming – but this incredible model, built by the film’s art department, is a close second. The exterior camera shots of the castle were created from camera sweeps of this large model, then made to look real with special effects. You have to see this, it is really special to Harry Potter geeks like me.
Oh and if you want a souvenir of your day, there are plenty. We bought this chocolate frog back for my husband for (walt for it) £7.95. It’s so thick we can’t actually work out how to eat it and he is still complete bar his right hind leg.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour of ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ costs £31 for adults and £23.50 for children (4 and up). It’s free for kids under 4, but you still need to get them a ticket (not charged). Family tickets cost £93 (2 adults and 2 children – or 1 adult and 3 children). Purchase tickets here.