September 17, 2014

Warner Bros. Studio Tour

The last day of mine and my mom's English adventure was purely magical. Yes, the pun was totally intended. We spent our day at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour just outside of London where we immersed ourselves in the world of Harry Potter movie making.

The four hours we spent here is probably one of the most emotional experiences I've ever had, and I am so glad we were able to have this tour be the finale of our stay in England. And that sounds so overdramatic, but y'all, I love Harry Potter. I've read every book - bought the fifth one at midnight at a bookstore and had all the others shipped to me while I was at horse camp during the summers. I've seen every movie - even went to midnight premiers. I was a beta tester for Pottermore - shout out to my fellow Slytherins! I've been to the Harry Potter park at Universal, and I've been to Platform 9 3/4. If it's Harry Potter, I'm all over it. JK Rowling is a genius, and she created something that has impacted so many people and has created a massive community of Potterheads. It's impossible to put into words the fandom that surrounds Harry Potter. It's just, magic. Yes...magic.

So off my obsessive soapbox... The tour is incredible, and if you're a Potterhead like me then it is a must see. There are three different sections. The first is the most time consuming and includes the sets, props, costumes, and pretty much the vast majority of everything involved in the movies. There is also an attraction where you can ride a broom, and though it's kinda juvenile, a true Potterhead would never pass up the experience. I want to say my mom and I spent two and a half hours or so exploring this section.

The second section is outside. Here you can find larger set pieces like the Knight Bus and Godric's Hollow. They also have a concession stand with hot dogs and butterbeer. This studio tour is one of only two places in the world where you can have butterbeer, the other being the Harry Potter park in Orlando, FL. This section is pretty quick to see. We ate lunch here so it took us some more time, but minus the eating we probably spent just 20 minutes in this section.

The third section is devoted to the makeup process and creature creation. You see the goblins, a thestral, and Grop. You also see Diagon Alley and a huge finale that'll make you bawl before heading into the gift shop. This section probably took us about an hour, give or take.

Okay, pictures! Warning: there's a lot. And I apologize that my indoor photos are just horrible. I was too emotional to care how the photos turned out.

Outside the studio tour - real chess pieces from the first movie
The Gryffindor boys' dormitory
The Mirror of Erised - seen in the first movie 
The Gryffindor common room with costumes from the third movie
Stairwell to Dumbledore's office
Potions classroom 
Dumbledore's office
Door to the Chamber of Secrets - it still works, too! 
The Burrow 
The Ministry of Magic
 And then I get this huge smudge on my lens that I didn't notice until I uploaded my photos to my computer! I thought any distortion was my contacts because I was so teary-eyed the entire time. Not kidding, y'all. I was emotional.

Tom Riddle's grave
In front of number 4 Privet Drive - everything is original except for the number "4," which Rupert Grint kept as a memento 
Godric's Hollow
Diagon Alley - This set always changed throughout the movies. No one Diagon Alley is the same as another. 
And now for the part where I really lost all control and could not handle my feelings. The tears were real, y'all. I was feeling all the feels at this point.

Scale model of Hogwarts and the surrounding grounds. Any swooping or panoramic shots of Hogwarts that you see in the movies were actually filmed here on this model. The room where the model was displayed had mood lighting and music, so I'll let you imagine my emotions...
The final room before the gift shop was a room full of wands - hundreds and hundreds of wands. Each wand box holds a name of a person who worked on the films. From actors to producers to costume designers to architects - every single person who was part of the making of the Harry Potter films has a wand and is honored here. Cue the waterworks, y'all.
 And the big kicker that had me bawling...

If you're not tearing up right now, you probably don't like Harry Potter, and I don't trust you. (Kidding! But not really...) I cry every time I go through the photos from this day. Like I said, this was a huge emotional experience for me, and I feel so fortunate that I was able to see this side of Harry Potter. I'll be a Potterhead for life.

Tips for visiting: You cannot buy tickets for the studio tour upon arrival. They must be purchased online ahead of time. I recommend booking at least a week in advance but preferably more than that to make sure you can get tickets for your ideal time. Awesome fact: the tour is self-guided, so you can spend as much time as you want absorbing all the magic! You can get here easily from London by taking a train from Euston to Watford Junction, and from Watford Junction there is a double decker Harry Potter shuttle bus that will take you directly to the studio tour. It doesn't get much easier than that.


  1. I have fallen in love with a blog post. I definitely experienced all of the feels while reading it. Thank you for taking me through this experience with you. It was truly magical.

  2. These are emotions only we Potterheads can understand!

  3. ok, I read this at work and now everyone wants to know why I am crying.....I just can't help it. I love Harry Potter.