You might have caught a glimpse of my excitement on Good Friday, and for good reason – I was off to the Harry Potter Studio Tours with my sister. I’d booked the trip months ago for her fifteenth, timing it well to see the Hogwart’s Express, and as avid HP fans we were unbelievably thrilled to go. I even bounced on the spot a few times that morning.
The first thing I will say is that this isn’t a family attraction. It’s really not suitable for children at-all, despite the attempts (“flying” a broomstick). If your child isn’t old enough to appreciate the films or books, they are unlikely to enjoy this day out. And it’s also pretty damn expensive, so don’t waste a ticket.
On that note, ouch. Our day, including dinner out in Watford and train tickets, probably cost nearly £200. Admittedly I didn’t need the chocolate frog or every-flavour beans (but we got them to share), and I probably didn’t need the professional photos. But it is eyewateringly expensive, definitely on a par with theme parks. Having said that – I definitely think it’s worth splurging the cash if you are a fan of the Harry Potter world. It was utterly amazing, no attention to detail was missed, and we could have spent far longer than the three hours we did there. We only hurried through because (ta London Midland) we’d be getting rail replacement buses home and I didn’t want to be too late. A bonus for the price is that this attraction really isn’t overcrowded. Any queues are managed well, but there’s not many at all.
The tour starts with a short cinema experience, before you head into the Great Hall. Whilst it’s kind of gutting to have the realization that the ceiling in the films isn’t real, it’s pretty cool to see all of the detail in the room (the floor is real stone) and there’s original costumes around the edge.
The next massive room has so much in it. The Hogwart’s gates, Hagrid’s huts, classrooms, offices, dormitories, costumes (including that dress of Hermione’s), props. I couldn’t choose my favourite bit if I tried, though I’d probably lean towards Dumbledore’s office. Even if it’s just because it proved my geekiness – I walked in and exclaimed there wasn’t a window in the film. A member of staff confirmed I was right, and said most people don’t realise that. Woop!
We held wands, and then tried our hand at both flying the car and broomsticks. Just for the experience I said. Twenty-one pounds lighter I was in the possession of three lovely photographs. Expensive, yes. Overpriced, indeed (even more so the DVDs!). But worth it for the memories and the looks on our faces.
Then for my favourite bit of the whole day. Platform 9 & 3/4! I’m so glad that we didn’t miss the arrival of the train as it is stunning. Full-size engine, which actually smells real. There’s a bit too much empty space in the area though, I imagine it will be filled gradually with other exhibits. It was also good to get the classic photo on the platform!
Onto animal-y props. My sister really enjoyed this section, and I definitely found it interesting learning about what was ‘real’ and what was computer animated. It was interesting to know that the model of the Basilisk was only created because 11/12 year-old Daniel was struggling to imagine where it was when acting – he didn’t look scared enough! I was terrified of the spider (it weight 1 tonne whilst filming, requiring 15 crewmen for operation!), and fascinated by all the drawing that went into the creating of a non-animated film.
Another highlight was Diagon Alley – I wasn’t expecting it to be lifesize! It was utterly amazing and totally surreal to walk down that street – I wouldn’t mind if they opened an actual ice-cream parlour down there, or maybe a miniature bookstore! Or opened up Ollivander’s into the wand exhibit at the end?
Then the models. And wow, these were good. For someone who’s not interested in that kind of thing, even I could totally appreciate the detail in these – to the point of getting annoyed at the crowds speeding by without a second glance. They must have taken hours!
But then there was this. The big model. It was incredible, a full Hogwarts, to scale, with stunning attention-to-detail. It completely took our breath away, shame the lighting in the room made photography difficult!
The final bit was the wands room – all actors had their own individual wand, and they were in boxes in this room. We spent a good while hunting out our favourite actors, though failed at finding Rupert Grint’s – so we will have to go back! The tour ended in the shop (clever move), but it was SO overpriced. Like £27 for a scarf?! Hell no. I was tempted by a keyring, but we just went for the chocolate/sweets and the extra book set.
And because I loved what I was wearing so much, I have to tell you about it. I found it perfect for the day and the travelling! I wore my new jeans from New Look (black, skinny, high-waisted – and my only pair of jeans currently!), and a navy shirt*, topped with bright orange cardigan* and my new favourite – a biker jacket*. Scarf was a lovely present from W’s parents, I believe from Zara, and of course I accessorized with a Leather Satchel – this one is an 11″ in Autumn Tan, and stunning! I’m virtually never without a satchel…I was asked to pick a few items from the George @ ASDA site a few weeks ago, and I adore everything. The jacket in particular is such good quality, I’ve refreshed my work wardrobe and found my perfect LBD. Would highly recommend having a browse!
Have you been to the Harry Potter Studio Tours? Were you a fan of the books/films? The only thing I don’t recommend is the Butter Beer – it’s not great!