Last week we headed to Hertfordshire to visit Harry Potter Studio Tours. It was our first time and we were all very excited.
The Studio Tour takes you through a magical journey between two very large sound stages, where you will see many props, costumes, and special effects displays; as well as an outdoors area where you can visit and experience many of important sets and props for the Harry Potter movies.
Even though you do book a time slot when booking your tickets, there was a massive queue. It is organized so they allow people in, in large groups, but, spacing the groups of people out, so you are not all on top of each other through the tour - I felt it worked out quite nicely. And, overall the whole experience we were able to enjoy and take in and learn more about the films without being too crowded.
When you start the tour, you are warmly welcomed, and seated in a cinema which takes you through the history of Harry Potter. Then the cinema screen opens up to reveal the massive entrance, grasp of delighted surprises echo through the cinema and the excitement level goes up a notch - you are instantly spellbound by the sheer scale of the place and the environment.
It's an entrance and a half.
This summer they had the addition exhibition of finding the Philosopher’s Stone, we got to see the moving display of the Devil’s Snare that the magical trio encountered in their hunt for the Philosopher’s Stone in Creature Effects. Also the giant tentacles. The kids favourite was the Wizard's Chess moving chess pieces across the chequered board, which they were huge.
Platform 9 3/4 was pretty cool too, you get to walk through Hogwarts Express, 'pass' through the wall onto the Platform and so much more.
Halfway through the tour is an outdoor back-lot where you can visit Pivot Drive and the house which you can enter, along with the triple decker bus, the bridge, and the flying car. At this point, there is a cafe, where you can purchase hotdogs and drinks etc. There is a small dedicated counter where you can buy and enjoy a butterbeer drink and ice cream. We, of course, couldn't visit the Studio Tours without trying a butterbeer, we did (didn't like it - too creamy) but at least we said we tried it, and we got to take home the plastic butterbeer tankard as a souvenir!
For the visit, I was most looking forward to seeing the scaled-down model of the Hogwarts castle, and it didn't disappoint. Although I knew it would be big, I didn't realise how big it would be - and just wow, it is amazing, the attention to detail.. All of us were in awe of the model, walking around it taking and spotting all the parts. In addition, there are touchscreen screens which allow you to interact, and learn more about how the castle and how the films were put together.
There was so much to see and experience, time just slipped by. There is so much going on that I couldn't possibly squeeze it into one post, you just simply have to visit yourself - otherwise, you don't know what you are missing out on. It really is that good.
There is a gift shop at the end of the tour, which is amazing in itself. I could have spent a fortune in there (and it's not cheap), but instead, we allowed the kids to get a wand each - which they love.