Just a short drive from the M25 Watford junction a collection of large warehouses are filled with sets, props and costumes from the world famous Harry Potter films. For ten years, these studios were the main production location for all eight Harry Potter films and became a second home for their stars. Now the Warner Bros Studios has opened its Making of Harry Potter tour which gives a fascinating insight into how the films were made. It’s a real treat for Harry Potter fans young and old.
The tour starts with a couple of short videos about how the films came about and how the actors filmed there. Early on there’s an introduction to one of the most breathtaking and famous sets – the Great Hall. This is still set out with some of the tables and many of its props along with the costumes worn by the main characters in Harry Potter.
There’s a chance to see many more sets such as Hagrid’s Hut, the Gryffindor Common Room, Gryffindor Boys Dormitory, Dumbledore’s office, the Potions Classroom, Ministry of Magic and more. Among the sets are numerous costumes and props: there’s a display of all the surprisingly intricate wands, wigs and make-up worn by the actors, Quidditch cups, broomsticks and the list goes on. What’s incredible is the attention to detail, it’s clear that a huge amount of research, time and care went into producing every single prop, costume and set.
There are a few videos running explaining how some sequences were filmed and there’s a nice section on the animal actors which were involved. There are also a few touch screens providing more detail. Don’t miss the opportunity for a green screen flight on a broom and in the Ford Anglia. This is great fun, free of charge and there’s a chance to buy a photo of your ride if you want.
About halfway round there’s a small cafe, food and drink isn’t allowed on the tour so you might want to time your visit with this in mind (there’s a restaurant and coffee bar at the main entrance). Between the two warehouses is an outside area featuring some of the outdoor props such as Hogwarts Bridge (which you can walk on!), the Knight Bus, number 4 Privet Drive and the Potter House.
The second part of the tour features the fascinating Creature Shop which explains how all the creatures and prosthetic masks were designed and how some of the monsters and props (such as the screeching mandrakes and monster books) were able to move with the use of animatronics. Shortly after this is an amazing stroll along the Diagon Alley set which has the most beautiful and detailed shopfronts including the wand shop Ollivanders.
The last section explains how the sets were designed and displays some of the conceptual art and models used to create the sets. At the very end is the breathtaking scale model of Hogwarts. About the size of a small bungalow, the sheer skill and detail in its creation demonstrates the vast amount of work which went into the Harry Potter films.
There’s a nice tribute at the end of the tour where over 4,000 Ollivander wand boxes are stacked on shelves each with the name of a person who worked on the Harry Potter films. And after this there’s the most enormous gift shop imaginable, guard your wallet!
The Warner Bros Studio Tour takes a minimum of three hours and you can spend almost a full day here there’s so much to see. Tickets are only available in advance and the attraction does get booked up well in advance so plan ahead for your visit. Here’s more information on location, how to book the Warner Bros Studio Tour and more reviews. The Studio Tour is probably best for children aged 7 and over, it can be a bit meaningless and long for younger ones not familiar with the films. Any Harry Potter fan will love this tour, it’s well organised, there’s so much to see and the staff are very friendly and helpful too.
If you can’t get to the Warner Bros Studio Tour in a day we can recommend The Grove hotel which is located nearby and very family friendly.