The Harry Potter Tour in London is most definitely Top 10 Films “APPROVED”. But what is there to see? And what are the BEST bits?
The Harry Potter Tour in London (or to quote its full title: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter) takes visitors through its two main soundstages which have been filled with props, costumes and sets used in the actual making of the Harry Potter films. This wonderful behind the scenes experience is great for both fans of the films and casual moviegoers who enjoy learning about the goings-on behind the camera. With fully-realised sets decked out in all their glory, thousands of props and costumes, the inside track on pre-production, concept designs, special-effects, make-up, prosthetics, puppets and animatronics, there is so much to enjoy.
This well-oiled and neatly structured tour welcomes visitors through various sections as you wander through the studio’s two gargantuan main soundstages aptly title “J” and “K” after author J.K. Rowling. After taking a look at Harry’s first home (his bedroom under the stairs at 10 Privet Drive), you enter a room where a film tells you about how the franchise came into being, before you move on to a theatre where Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint appear on screen to welcome you to the studio. From here the tour really gets going – first, there’s an exciting trip through the Great Hall at Hogwarts, before the first main soundstage which houses everything from Umbridge’s Ministry of Magic Office, Dumbledore’s room, the Gryffindor Common Room and Dorm, Hagrid’s Hut, and lots more. Then you make your way outside to see 10 Privet Drive, the Knight Bus and the Weasley’s Ford Anglia, before being whisked away to Diagon Alley. Finally, the tour introduces you to a huge model of Hogwarts school.
These were my ten favourite moments from the Harry Potter Tour…
10. The Weasley’s Ford Anglia
Harry and Ron try to catch up to the Hogwarts Express in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
The Weasley’s Ford Anglia played its most prominent role in the adventure during Harry and Ron’s attempt to get to Hogwarts after missing their train. The flying car with a mind of its own was significant thanks to its stubborn persona and its classic looks. The great thing about the car at the studio is that you can have your photo taken inside it.
9. The Great Hall Reveal
The Great Hall as featured in the films
The Great Hall is one of the most iconic interior sets from the Harry Potter franchise. It is featured in every film and is the location of many memorable scenes. Its “reveal” during the tour is certainly one of the highlights when it appears where you might not expect it to.
8. The Gryffindor Common Room
Harry and Hermione talk love and fighting an evil lord in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Home to many discussions by the wizarding threesome of Harry, Ron and Hermione. Often it was here they would discuss ways of defeating evil Lord Voldemort but mostly it was the place where Ron and Harry would have their customary falling out before the inevitable reconciliation and for them talking about their various romantic crushes.
7. Dumbledore’s Office
Dumbledore talks to Harry with his usual riddles
The great man himself. Of course, if Dumbledore had just explained his riddles in film number one we wouldn’t have eight great movies to enjoy. I suppose that’s why he pursued enigma after enigma – for the good of the next sequel.
6. The Knight Bus
Harry Potter takes a ride on the Knight Bus in Prisoner of Azkaban
The Knight Bus appears in my favourite Harry Potter film – Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. It is great to see the shape-shifting automobile in the flesh but unfortunately it was out of service when I was waiting at the bus stop meaning I couldn’t get a lift to Hogwarts.
5. 10 Privet Drive
Harry Potter’s street as featured in promotional material for the films
Harry’s home away from Hogwarts is where his mean Uncle and Auntie live. It is here where they keep him locked away under the stairs. No wonder Harry was so glad to leave home for boarding school.
4. The Great Hall
The Great Hall as it appears in the films
The Great Hall is the first exhibit you see on the tour and it is a feast for the eyes. While the “reveal” of the Great Hall is a memorable start to the tour (see above), the set itself is the real treat. This complete set is so lavishly detailed you lose yourself in its authenticity. At the far end of the hall are costumes for characters such as Hagrid, Minerva McGonagall and Filius Flitwick.
3. Hagrid’s Hut
Hagrid’s Hut as featured in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Another wonderfully detailed exhibit is the set for Hagrid’s Hut. This is set amongst several other sets including Dumbledore’s office, the Weasley’s Burrow and the Potions classroom.
2. Model of Hogwarts
Hogwarts School as seen in the films
This huge model is accessed via a walkway that passes around it from ceiling to floor. Like the rest of the production design, props, costumes and sets, this model features minute detail right down the one-centimetre square window panes. From the doors to the planting of fake trees, this really is a mesmerising piece of technical accomplishment.
1. Diagon Alley
Lord Voldemort’s henchman attack Diagon Alley
Another fully realised set that is exhibited as a walk-through attraction. Beginning at Gringott’s bank and ending at the Weasley twins’ magic shop, Diagon Alley is the pinnacle of the tour for me. From the minute you walk on the alley’s cobbled paving stones you are immersed in possibly the most interesting location of the Harry Potter world. Diagon Alley in its exhibited form, just as in the film, is magical, imaginative and uniquely captivating. I could have stayed here all day.