I have wanted to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tours for YEARS. Don't get me wrong, nobody was stopping me from going, I had just never got myself organised enough to grab a friend, pick a date and book the tickets. We've had my sister in law and her husband visiting us from Germany over the last week and the Studio Tour was at the top of their list of must-sees for this trip so on sunny Thursday afternoon, I made it there at last!
And was it worth the wait?! It really truly was. Fasten your trunk, grab your house scarf and a few chocolate frogs or some Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans (whatever takes your fancy, there'll be no judgement here), let's jump aboard the Hogwarts Express and I'll tell you all about it!
(Just please ignore the ludicrous expression on my face in some of these photos...I was very excited.)
I'm a huge Potter fan so I was probably always going to love it but my husband really isn't (hilariously, he was given a stern talking to by his mum over the phone about not sulking during the trip!) and even he thought it was an interesting, well thought-out tour. He was also our official photographer on the day, capturing lots of memorable little details for us while we exclaimed over all the sets, props and costumes and reminisced about these books and films which were so important to me while I was growing up (and even as I've got a little older than that!) I know I've seen lots of blog posts pop up over the last few years, which I've done my best to avoid so as not to spoiler myself in advance, but before I spend the rest of my weekend marathon-watching all the films again, I thought I'd write a little about the day and my highlights for anyone like me who hasn't managed to visit it yet! (And hey, if you're looking for an excuse to go again...) Apologies for all of the photos - I think we came away with about 700 so this is truly an edited selection!
NutmegandArlo's Etsy shop in readiness for our trip. #nerdyandproud
First things first, make sure you allow plenty of time for your visit. You have to book in advance anyway - we booked weeks ago and there were only slots available from 5pm onwards. As I was bouncing up and down with excitement/terrified we'd be late and miss our time slot, we arrived at about 4pm but were allowed in earlier than our designated slot. By the time we left, it was about 8.15pm... I think they say that 3 hours is the 'norm' but having been in there for over 4 hours and still feeling there were spots I could have gone back to and looked at again, I would allow for at least 4 to 5 hours to ensure that you're fully able to indulge in some serious Potter-trivia.
The tour begins with a short film of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint talking about their experiences making the movies together with some snippets of all of the films, ending with them disappearing through the doors into the Great Hall at Hogwarts. The curtain rises and there are those very doors! You walk through and straight into Hogwarts' Great Hall - there are all the house tables, with some costumes lined up against the wall, the great fireplace and the teachers all stood at the very end!
You then head out into a huge area, filled with all manner of delights - props, costumes, sets, even the Mirror of Erised (perhaps I was just looking into the mirror the entire time?!)
Clearly I was hugely excited imagining that I was in the Gryffindor common room.
Peeking inside the Burrow was such a highlight for me - it's exactly the style I try to emulate for my own home, just look at that dresser!
Knitting needles captured mid-knit (not featured: the self-ironing iron and the knife chopping a carrot all by itself!)
Apparently they filmed 40 kittens for the plates in Dolores Umbridge's study and the kitten were then adopted by people who had no idea that their cats were so famous!
Shortly after this was a section on the Death Eaters, which I found just as spooky as their scenes in all of the movies - the level of detail in each of the masks though, and some of the sinister props on display from Borgin and Burkes. It was so impressive.
The entrance to the Forbidden Forest, which is the new section of the tour that has only just opened.
We were so lucky with the weather on the day we visited the tour and the sun shone gloriously throughout. By the time we left the Back Lot area, the sun was just starting to go in and it was getting a little chillier - perfect timing to head onto the next section, which was robotics and mechanics, together with all the amazing technical make up - Dobby, creatures like Buckbeak, Fawkes and the screaming Mandrake plants, and all the different goblin heads. This then leads into Diagon Alley, which I was SO excited to walk through, before the stunningly gorgeous artwork section and then the giant model of Hogwarts.
If you look over at the right-hand side of this picture, you'll see some people gazing at the model of Hogwarts - that should give you an idea of the scale of the piece!
If you haven't already picked up on how much I loved our visit to the studio tour, I wholeheartedly recommend it! The audio tour is worth investing in too because you hear so many interesting little snippets about the filming process that I had no idea about previously, and you can also watch some additional clips too. The section on training the animals was probably my favourite, as well as the section on the Burrow and how they managed to convince Ralph Fiennes to join the cast.
Have you visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour? What was your favourite part?