Less than 48 hours after leaving Disneyland (via the Eurostar train through the channel tunnel) we arrived at the Warner Brothers Studio just outside of London. Here they have turned the sets and props from the Harry Potter franchise into an attraction. Many people have raved about the tour to me, so I had high expectations. I wasn’t disappointed! I think I took more pictures in the 4 hours or so we spent there than I did any other day so far.
It turned out to be of US-Disney caliber and completely magical, even when mobbed, which it usually is. For reference, we bought tickets 3 months in advance and had about 4 time slots to chose from. There are slots every half hour from 9-7, 7 days a week! It is 100% reservation only. They will not even let you on the shuttle bus from the train station without showing your ticket. The crowds didn’t bother us much, however. This is probably, in part, because we were there early (9:30). While there is staggered entry, you can stay as long as you want so I’d imagine it’s much busier mid-day.
This is a truly unique experience, it is amazing to be able to walk through the real sets! The great hall, diagon alley, gringotts and even privet drive are still there. You can see the costumes and props up close. They really have kept them all! And there are thousands and thousands.
The audio guides offered incredible detail and interviews with cast members and crew. It was one of the most thorough I’ve ever seen. It has everything from taking care of animals on set to how they made special effects. I’d wager if you had any interest in how movies are made this would be interesting, even if not a fan of the Harry Potter movies!
You become quickly in awe of the precision and detail of the crew’s work. They had thousands of wands, for example, all unique and had to be kept track of each day!
There is room after room of examples of their work (dozens of oil paintings made for the halls, for example. The scale model of the Great Halls ceiling was interesting. I’d never thought about it but the real great hall set, of course, was filled with lights, not arches!
Zoom in and read about the Wands!
It culminated in viewing a model made of the whole hogwarts campus. When I hear of an architectural model I think of something maybe the size of a dining room table (at biggest!).
This model was used for some aerial shots and for reference. The visual effects team would consult the model so images in the film always “made sense” for the school’s layout.
This was definitely a highlight site for me this trip to London!