Last weekend I visited the magical world that is WB Studios Tour - the home of Hogwarts and Harry Potter. I was so excited when I opened the letter with my tickets (a Christmas present from my mum) - I couldn’t wait to go and see Hogwarts in the Snow! I’m a bit of a closet geek when it comes to Harry Potter and some other things like horror films, superhero debates (who will win: Batman or Superman?) and topics of lore.
We totally made a family day out of it and I went with my mum and brother - mum’s already been, but she was so excited to come back! Before I go any further, let me just fill you in on what is actually happening at WB Studios - it is literally the home of Hogwarts because that is where the Harry Potter movies are filmed! The sets, the props and the costumes are all authentic and what was actually used in the movies themselves. You can see the scenery, the costumes, the creatures featured in the film and hear from the actors themselves how the pulled off magical stunts from the films. I spent the evening following the footsteps of Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson - pretty cool hun? Not to mention, it was a huge honour to see the real life costumes and props used by Alan Rickman (Professor Snape) who sadly passed away earlier this year.
Now that you know why I was super excited to go to Hogwarts, I’ll tell you all about my journey. When you pull up to the studios, you can already tell this will be a magical trip - just by the front doors, you can see the huge chess pieces from the first movie: Harry Potter and The Philosophers Stone. As you wait for the studio doors to open, you can enter the hall inside which has a cafe with drinks and food, bathrooms, a gift shop and reception. But the real magic starts as you queue up to go inside - whilst you wait, you can visually explore the cupboard under the stairs - yes, Harry’s cupboard! I won’t talk you through the intro, but rather skip to the most exciting part - the doors of the great hall opening. As far as magical moments go, this was a beautiful sight. You honestly feel like you’re in your first year of Hogwarts and are entering this beautiful hall/world of magic. The fires are lit in the great hall, but it’s not real fire - just something that looks exactly like it (we find out later how the fire and snow is made). I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves in this post, but just to point out that at the end of the hall, where the teachers are sat, are the authentic costumes of professors like Dumbledore, McGonnagall, Snape and Hagrid (amongst many more). The detail that is put into the set and the costumes is incredible - just take it all in when you’re there.
You then proceed into a room full of props used in the films - potion cauldrons that stir by themselves, the Mirror of Erised, costumes, wigs, The Goblet of Fire; and sets like the Gryffindor dorm room, potions classroom and Dumbledores office. It’s honestly incredible to think you’re standing an inch away from where your favourite movies were filmed! Throughout the tour, there are demonstrations of how the props work: we watched The Goblet of Fire turn red and spit out Harry’s name; found out all about the different snow used on set, and also how they make fire that doesn’t actually burn you!
As you walk along, you will also find a green screen room where you can ride a broomstick through the clouds, or feel what it’s like being chased by a train whilst you’re driving a flying car!
Another part of the tour which I enjoyed incredibly was Platform 9 3/4 - it was probably the most magical for me. Easily recognisable sets, beautiful photo ops and a real sense of being in the magical world of Harry Potter. LOVED IT!
You then proceed to the canteen where you can get some food, and more importantly BUTTERBEER! Yes, you get to try butterbeer which is incredibly sweet and delicious.
At this point, I have to mention my camera died (and I nearly cried) so I had to start snapping with my phone. Bring spare batteries because you will want to take lots of pics!
After refuelling, we carried on outside where we got to see the midnight bus from The Goblet of Fire, and Harrys house on Privet Drive. You can also see Harrys parents house from one of the latter films - all destroyed and abandoned.
Another interesting part of the tour is the room where all the magical creatures are kept - from life sized dolls of Hermione when she was underwater in the Triwizard Tournament, to the werewolf Professor Lupin turns into and even Hagrids face. Yes, Hagrid sometimes has a prosthetic face. Who knew?! I was so impressed with how the creatures move, but felt absolutely magical when I met a Hippogriff in person - it was like he was real, and bowing out of politeness. The detail and the materials used to create this magical beast are just incredible. I was left speechless.
Just before you leave the tour, you walk along probably the most famous set of the films - Diagon Alley. I actually got goosebumps thinking that we were walking along the actual street featured in the films - Ollivanders Wand Shop was actually trashed because it got blown up.
The last thing you see on your trip is the model of Hogwarts which is used for filming scenic shots - the detail of this model (which is huge by the way) is incredible. I thought a lot of the things we see in the films are CGI, but I found out that a lot of props and scenes are actually real and just very cleverly manipulated. Hogwarts in the snow was breathtaking.
As you exit, you go through the gift shop which has the original Ollivanders interior which sells wands of your favourite characters, amongst many other keepsakes. I bought a Griffyndor nightie (officially confirmed as a Gryffindor by Buzzfeed!) and got some pressies for the other Harry Potter fans in my life. As you can see, I’m also sporting the Gryffindor scarf which my ma got me some time ago - I love it!
The trip was amazing, and even though it was the last tour of Hogwarts in the Snow until Winter, I am definitely visiting again with a group of friends. It’s a trip of a lifetime!