The Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour

Watford (Just outside London) U.K.

This wasn't my first trip to the Harry Potter Studio, I had been a few years ago, since then, there have been new sections added to the tour so I wanted to go again. The Studio is about 20 miles northwest of London, it's possible to take a train from central London to Watford station and then there's a shuttle bus to the Studio. Or you can drive yourself and the parking is free. Having driven there last time and enjoyed the convenience of doing so, I decided I would drive to the studio again. I was coming from the Isle of Wight, about 90 minutes away, so was up nice and early to catch the 8am ferry to Portsmouth. On my last trip I got stuck in slow moving traffic (I didn't get out of first gear for an hour!!!) as there was a broken down truck or lorry, to use the British word for it, on the Motorway. I had been afraid I would be too late for my allotted entrance time, the tickets all have a timed entrance. Tickets are bought online and you need to show an online booking to enter the carpark, this booking then gets exchanged for a physical ticket at the onsite ticket office.

I need not have worried, I made it to the Studio in record time, 2 hours before my ticketed entrance! As it was still early I quickly got through the bag check and settled down to a very early lunch.Then made my way to the lineup and found myself between 2 school groups!!!! One group of very excited 8 and 9 year olds and the other group was of high school students, once inside they did all add to the atmosphere a bit!

The Studio is where the Harry Potter movies were filmed and so it's possible to walk through the actual sets, the detail in them is amazing. First stop is the Great Hall.

As well as the sets, the costumes that were used in the films are also on display, here are Professor McGonagall, Dumbledore and Snapes's outfits in the Great Hall.

The first part of the tour through the Great Hall has a guide explaining things but as you continue through it's all self-guided. (Which is good if you're trying to escape the school groups!)

The Gryffindor common room.

Dumbledore's office.

The Potions classroom.

The Weasley's house.

March this year a new section of the studio opened, it's the Forbidden Forest, the original one from the film didn't survive but they managed to get some of the same people who built it for the films to recreate it.
The entrance to the Forbidden Forest with Hagrid just inside it. (tough to get a photo without having lots of other visitors in it as they pose at the gates!)

Another new thing for me at least, is now they have the Hogwarts express at the Studio. 

They're recreated the interior of the carriages, I felt very old as I can quite vividly remember catching trains in Italy with exactly those types of carriages (compartments with 6 seats and overhead luggage racks) not that long ago!!

When the movies were filmed, the very first scene shot was on the station platform with the Hogwarts express in the background. The last scene shot in the final movie was the now older main characters on the station platform with the train in the background, as they see their own children go off to Hogwarts. These were their costumes for that last scene.

There's a whole section on the special effects in the movies, I loved this costume, the inflating of Aunt Marge.

You can walk through Diagon Alley.

There's an outside part to the tour which is where the Dursley's house can be found. For the first 2 films, the outside scenes were filmed at an actual house, but as the movies became big hits, the external part of the house was built at the studio. Since my last visit, an identical house was built next to the one there and visitors can now enter the Dursley's house and see the living room with all the letters flying around.

The final part of the tour takes you to the Hogwarts model that was used for all the green screen parts of the films. That's quite magical as the theme music to the Harry Potter films play.

The Harry Potter Studio Tour is a fabulous place to visit, seeing all the attention to detail that went into the movies is amazing. I loved seeing it all and experiencing the new parts as well. I personally think this is the best Harry Potter experience for any fan of the books and movies. It has the authentic props, costumes and sets of the movies, the other Harry Potter experiences to me don't have that same authenticity, they're just manufactured theme park attractions. 

It does get quite crowded, I can't imagine it at the height of the school holidays!! There are themed events during the year to visit as well, Halloween is one, and right now there's the Hogwarts in the Snow, Christmas experience going on.