A muggle’s guide to the magical world of Harry Potter

A tour of Warner Bros Studio, London
/ New Delhi
A muggle’s guide to the magical world of Harry Potter

Entryway into the 'forbidden forest' set up inside Warner Bros studio in London

For a Harry Potter fan, there is no attraction on this earth more overwhelming and amazing than the Warner Bros Studio Tour London, (London’s Harry Potter set tour), which takes tourists through the filming site for all the eight movies made so far in the Harry Potter franchise.
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“In my entire life, I have only cried once at a tourist attraction. And judge me all you want, but this cryfest happened at the Harry Potter studio tour,” says Amrita George, a 29-year-old traveller from Bengaluru, Karnataka, who visited the Warner Bros studio in the United Kingdom in 2018.

Like many other children born in the 1990s, much of George’s childhood was spent daydreaming about the arrival of her ‘Hogwart’s acceptance letter’. As this dream dwindled with the hardships of adulthood, she found comfort in carbs and magical movie marathons, instead.

“But, it didn’t take much for these childhood dreams to resurface. A trip to London was all it took to re-open the floodgates,” she adds.

Harry Potter’s room under the stairs is right next to the queuing area

Despite its name, the Warner Bros Studio London is actually located in Leavesden, about 40km northwest of London. In addition to sets, tourists are also shown countless props, costumes, various gift shops and even get a chance to taste butterbeer, repeatedly mentioned in the seven Harry Potter books and eight films, the favoured ale of witches & wizards.

The magical experience begins as soon as one walks into the building. All around the lobby are canvases with various Harry Potter characters, as well as props and other mesmerising artefacts hanging on the walls.

Even the task of waiting in line is a joy for this tour. The queue moves very quickly and there is plenty for tourists to look at as they wait. Most notably, Harry’s cupboard under the stairs, is right next to the queuing area, ensuring that people get a perfect view of this iconic set.

The tour begins with a brief video introduction to the franchise, followed by a preshow featuring Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, all three leads of the film. As this preshow concludes, the screen reveals the door to the Great Hall. During George’s visit, the tour guides also invited kids who had their birthday, on that day, to come up and help open the doors. “After seriously wishing it was my birthday, I bitterly watched two ecstatic kids live out their childhood dreams, revealing the first stop of the tour, the amazing and unnerving Great Hall,” she says.

Marvel at the greatness of the Great Hall

This is the only part of the tour where the time is limited, tour groups are let in every few minutes. As such, if one wants photos, tourists should snap them quickly! Being in this room is an unreal feeling for most fans. In addition to the long tables, cutlery and elaborate set pieces, tourists also get to view costumes from students in each house, and important Hogwarts faculty as well!

Into the Big Room

Weasley Kitchen in Harry Potter

After spending time in the Great Hall, tourists are brought into the Big Room, which also houses a variety of sets, props and costumes. Here, tourists are left free to explore for themselves and gawk at all the amazing pieces kept in the room.

George says highlights for her were the Potions classroom, complete with a Snape costume on display, the Gryffindor Common Room and the Weasley House. Many of the sets also have interactive buttons where tourists can make objects move by pressing them. Usually, tourists say that the Weasley Kitchen is the best to look at and appears magical where the touch of a button could make an iron move on its own and vegetables get chopped on their own.

For those seeking a sweet photo opportunity, there are several green screen opportunities to ride a broom as a player of Quidditch, a fictional sport event.

The Backlot

After perusing the Big Room, tourists are taken outside to the Backlot, home to a variety of sets including Harry’s Privet Drive home, the Hogwarts Bridge, the Knight Bus and of course, the concession stands. It is at this point in the tour that one can live out childhood fantasies of sipping a nice, cold butterbeer.

“Now, while public opinion seems to be split on the taste of butterbeer, I have to say that I loved every single sip. It is also possible that I was blinded by the magic of my surroundings, but I would argue that it is worth a try regardless,” adds George.

Art department and Diagon Alley

The famous Diagon Alley setup in Warner Bros studio

When one is ready to go back inside, countless wonders from the creature effects & art department await them. Here, one can appreciate the amount of work put into creating a whole magical world. In this area, visitors can see masks, wigs and models of their favourite magical creatures.

The second half of the tour also has a walk through the Diagon Alley. The details and work in the set are detailed enough to absolutely blow the visitors away. The shops look so real; tourists often get tempted to go knocking on doors.

Hogwarts Castle model

A model of the entire ‘Hogwarts’, the school for magicians, inside the studio

And lastly, the grand finale of the tour is the model of Hogwarts Castle. This one here is a real showstopper. A walkway surrounding the model allows one to view it from all angles, taking in the fine details of this wonderful school. For many Harry Potter fans, seeing the castle is a dream come true.

At the end of the tour, there is Harry Potter shop where tourists can buy everything from a stamp to Harry Potter merchandise and even a magic wand and get their name inscribed on it. Before exiting the magical studio, tourists pass by a beautiful quote written on the screen, signed by J. K. Rowling, the author of Harry Potter, that reads “The stories we love the best, do live in us forever. Whether you come by the page or the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”

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