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One of my birthday presents was a ticket to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, which is all about the making of Harry Potter. I’d been wanting to go for ages, but I’m glad I waited, as it was only recently that the Hogwarts Express was installed at the attraction.

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Shuttle bus at Watford Junction

The tour site is about 20 miles north of London, near Watford, and there is a shuttle bus from Watford Junction. My friend and I travelled from west London, catching the train at Euston, and were impressed to see references to the studio tour all over the place – it’s a popular attraction! Once there, it was VERY exciting to see the bus. It’s not free, but it’s very handy – taking you straight there and back – and there’s even a little Harry Potter video to watch while you’re travelling.

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Entrance

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Chess pieces

The entrance to the building is exciting in itself, with a number of props dotted around, including a number of the chessmen from the first film. Elisa and I took the opportunity to get a selfie in front of the attraction!

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Harry Potter selfie!

The main lobby is huge, with a cafe, a gift shop and cloakroom (and toilets of course) – there are even some attractions here, like Ron’s car that was used in Chamber of Secrets. We had loads of time to kill before our tour, so we went for something to eat in the cafe.

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Main lobby

Afterwards we checked out the gift shop, as you do. Everything was incredibly expensive. I did buy a little something later on, but I might have bought more if it hadn’t been so pricey.

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When it was time for our tour, we got in the queue and were thrilled to notice Harry’s cupboard under the stairs as we were passing.

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Harry’s cupboard

We were taken into a room and shown a video, with the main actors from the films – Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint – introducing the experience. Then it was into the Great Hall!

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Entrance to the Great Hall

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Inside the Hall

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The fireplace

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Laden tables

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Hourglasses showing House points

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Teachers’ costumes

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The Hall

I loved the Great Hall. It was an amazing feeling to be in the space where so many things happened over the course of the eight films. There were tables laid out with food, and costumes from some of the characters, including the school uniform and the teachers’ robes. The Great Hall doesn’t have a ceiling, because it is meant to reflect the night sky, and CGI stars were added after filming.

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The Gates of Hogwarts

Once out of the Great Hall, the rest of the building is full of amazing props from the Harry Potter series, complete with information boards explaining how particular tricks were done and how things worked on screen. There were so many things to see, from the Gryffindor common room to the Potions classroom, Dumbledore’s office and game props from Quidditch and the TriWizard Tournament.

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TriWizard Ball costumes

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The Mirror of Erised

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Gryffindor Common Room

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Dumbledore’s office

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TriWizard Cup

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Quidditch balls

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The Golden Snitch

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Potions classroom

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Hogwarts paintings

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Entrance to the Chamber of Secrets

I really liked the “green screen” section which explained how broomsticks, Hagrid’s bike and other objects were made to fly.

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Quidditch outfits

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Motorbike and sidecar

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Broomstick

Later in the exhibition, the displays focused on sets outside of Hogwarts.

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Borgin and Burke’s

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The Malfoy mansion

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Umbridge’s office

The next part was one that I was really excited about – the Hogwarts Express! You can see the train in all its glory, and even climb inside the carriages.

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The Hogwarts Express

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Logo on the side of the train

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The station

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Costumes from the final scene from the last movie (sob!)

Following this we arrived at a cafe, which was perfectly timed – we were pretty tired by this time, having spent a good couple of hours wandering around, and wanted a sit down. You can bring your own food for a picnic if you like, or you can purchase food here. We weren’t hungry, but we did fancy trying the Butterbeer. It was very sweet: Elisa hated it, but I quite liked it!

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Sampling the Butterbeer

Luckily it was a fine day, as the next bit was outside. We got to see the Knight Bus (made from two genuine double decker buses), Privet Drive, the moving corridor at Hogwarts, the cottage at Godric’s Hollow, and Ron’s car.

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The Knight Bus

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Bus sign

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Inside the bus

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No. 4 Privet Drive

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Sign

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Corridor

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Cottage

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Inside the car

Back inside, there was a fascinating section on animatronics and how they were made and manipulated for the Harry Potter films. I was particularly interested in Dobby and in Hagrid’s huge head, not to mention Fawkes the phoenix.

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Fawkes

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A mandrake

Next we made our way into Diagon Alley, which was full of shops from the movies. I loved this section – I only wish it was really possible to go into the shops and buy wands and delicious sweets for real!

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Diagon Alley

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Florian Fortescue’s ice cream parlour

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Flourish & Blott’s

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Madam Malkin’s robe shop

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Diagon Alley

The next section was all about concept art and models for the sets, which was fascinating. Finally, we got to see the incredible model of Hogwarts which was used for overhead shots. The detail on this model is incredible and my picture really doesn’t do it justice.

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Hogwarts

I had an incredible time at the studio tour and it is a must-see for any Harry Potter fan, or even anyone who is interested in how films are made. It’s pricey, but worth it in my opinion as there is so much to see.

Timed tours are in operation and you do need to book in advance. My friend and I didn’t book far enough in advance for a Saturday in July so we ended up having to choose a later timeslot. The attraction doesn’t close until late so this wasn’t a big problem for us, but I think the earlier in the day you can go the better, as there are likely to be fewer people.

The tour was definitely a highlight for me, as a huge Harry Potter fan, and I’m so glad I went.

FACTS

Address: Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, WD25 7LR

Website: wbstudiotour.co.uk

Opening Hours: Times vary, but it is open 7 days a week, usually from 9 or 10am until 6-10pm with the last tours scheduled three hours before closing. You MUST book (well) in advance.

Prices: Adult £35, child £27; family tickets and studio tour packages are available

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