Below are some of the best photos from the day, I will be writing about some of the rooms and surprises in the tour, so if you don’t want any of the magic spoiled this is your warning. Also I am not a super fan, so I apologies that I don’t know all the names and locations perfectly or get spellings wrong
It was 1pm in Brighton and I knew I would need to head to the station soon if i was going to make it in time to Euston station to meet my best mate Hannah to head to Watford Junction.
I had everything planned out and time table all set. For some this might feel constraints and to be fair I don’t always need a day planned out; but today with multiple trains a coaches to catch I needed to.
After I arrived in London Victoria I opted to take the bus to Euston station. I was a good hour earlier than I thought and always a good excuse to see my favourite Memorial “Animals of War” and see Marble Arch
Arrived at Euston and bought our tickets to Watford Junction and some snacks for the short journey. Hannah met me right on 3:30pm on the nose and we made our way to train. After a bit of a delay we were on our way. I had to be careful not to go into my old “home” mode from the days of travelling to the Midlands every weekend in 2010.
We departed the train station which was well marked on which direction we needed to go to in order to catch the Coach that takes you to the studio tour.
Showed our confirmation codes and bought return fares for a total of 5£. The journey started and a video played explaining what we do when we get there and the history of the studio. Me and my mate Hannah share a giggle as she says “yeah but is it the oldest running studio in England?” This is of course referencing our time working at Ealing Studios and that was said in every pitch we had to give.
The coach twists and turns down residential areas and it is absolutely pouring down rain but I don’t care I can feel some excitement brewing in me. It was difficult to look out the windows do the the graphics over the windows of the Coach but I could still see the large stages appear before us.
We departed the coach and heading to the ticket window to gather our tickets and then went though a small security check point and then finally cleared a set of doors. along the celing was photos of all the cast members, a studio cafe to the left, the large studio shop to the right. If you need anything harry potter this is the place to find it! that is if you can get passed all the kids in their various house robes running about. Needless to say it was very busy.
We wait for our 5:30 tour start time and have a coffee and muffin in the cafe then finally make our way to the que to start tour. As we snake our way through the velvet rope pathway the first set we see is the “Cupboard under the stairs” set and I’m surprised at just how small it is. To be fair it was true to life and matched my in-laws under stair storage
After the line fills we are lead into a room showing all the films posters in various languages and told some ground rules. Then a short video plays about how they came across the book Harry Potter and how they got the rights to make it a film.
After that a set of doors opened and we were guided down into a room with a cinema set up and a second video plays with the three cast members talking about their time on set and then head into a set of grand doors
Now the showman in me was like “huh wouldn’t that be cool is the screen raised and the door was there for real” but then logic set in and I was like “nah it’s a perminant screen
Well needless to say I was wrong and the showman side won. The screen lifted and reveals the grand doors that leads to the great hall set
We were greeted by another person who asked if there were any Birthday people and actually had a young child, and teenager and an elderly lady. It tugged at my heart strings to see all three groups there sharing the excitement
And with that the doors opened and there was the great hall! The detail was amazing but it felts a bit rushed. They kept saying taking as much time as you want when we were on the previous two rooms but then when we got to this one we were quickly escorted out so I had to be quick taking the phtotos
The next room had various billboards taking about the different directors and things and I just whizzed past. I wasn’t in the mood for reading I just wanted to see.
A makeup demonstration was playing on the right as the Griffindour common room and dorms were on the right and straight on. I loved the large pengilim that was actually moving and The griffon statue
For some reason I was surprised the magic cloke would have green fabric on opposite end. But duh! Is so it could be keyed out and give the appearance of disappearing (my VFX side of me died a little inside)
Next section was a large area for having your picture taking on a green screen broom. This is why they said the tour took 3 hours. It’s the queuing to try and do all the interactive things.
Because I knew this time around I wasn’t going to buy that sort of thing and worried my friend would be bored to tears I passed. We continued on and saw the area talking about the visual effects and special effects and yes there is a difference
Then we entered the enchanted forest and I knew there was a large spider creature, and just like Ron I don’t do well with spiders. So I saw a staff member and asked if any jump out at you. They don’t. I was gutted that buckbeak who is supposed to bow at you was broken 😦
After we snake through the enchanted Forrest we a met with a gift shop and some toilets then we turn the corner and enter the train station set. And that was cool! I of course did do the trolley run.
Needless to say I did my best running impression and was out in 5 minutes. There was yet another gift shop to the right and the train on left. A massive que to get in to look inside and once again I know I would have been missing a lot I just didn’t want to wait. So me and Hannah have it a miss
At this point we had seen all in building one and made our way through the cafe and passed the large line for butter beer. (Little tip book it ahead online)
we proceeded into the the building and the first room was full of all the practical makeup effects. I have such a soft spot for creature effects, was always fascinated by thing created by Stan Winston. there were shelves full of goblin make up for the bank scene in the first and last film (?) then of course the creatures like the mermaids in the goblet of fire. I was struck by how one of the Dementors was a backpack with a blue key skeleton. i would have loved to see how that would have worked.
had to take a picture of the phoenix because that’s one of my favourite mythical creatures
we veered to the left of the room and saw even more creatures, the skeleton looking horses that only certain people can see (sorry potter fans I don’t know the name, I think called Festrals) and a dragons head, and of course another very large spider on the wall (shudder)
after that there was a video showing the Animatronic Buckbeak and a large wall full of hats! turn to our right at all the shop fronts are there for when the children buy their school supplies and the Wesley twins open a prank shop. At the moment I remember turning to my mate and say “I forget these are the real sets some times.” Coming from America im used to everything being a recreation.
we enter the second to the last room and there is a ton of concept art, some of which I’m pretty sure was done by some of my collogues at MPC, I have such a soft spot for Art Department and concept art. In a alternate life I wish I could design stuff like that.
finally I can hear a triumphant score and we enter the large room with the complete model of Hogwarts, and for the second time of the tour my breath is taken away. the sheer size is breath taking! with a background in visual effects I figured the castle exteriors were all just made, but I do have to remember that these films were made in the early 00’s so use of practical was more common. it was amazing all the detail really was something to behold.
with that we mad our way around the room and entered the final room that was the set for the wand shop, and I could be wrong but every name on there was someone in the film and possibly worked on it. which I thought was a lovely touch and a great way for people to see just how many people were involved in these films.
I think if you are a fan of the books or the films this is certainly worth the ticket. I don’t feel 35£ pounds is to much considering it more to go to Madame Tussaud and that’s just waxworks and not authentic stuff. It can get a bit busy with all the kids running around, but everything moved quickly and the staff were very enthused and polite. the coach was well worth the 5£ round trip for two of us and really helped not having to worry about parking. There’s soooo much to see I can certainly see why people come back and I’m thinking about coming back at Christmas time for my birthday because apparently its all decorated for the holiday season. I’d certainly suggest this to anyone, especially with kids but book things like your butter beer in advance, and be prepared to que about 3 to 4 times hence why the tour is 3 hours long, were as with use skipping the lines took use hour and 1/2