Warner Bros Studio Tour - Hogwarts in the Snow
When we were recently invited to visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour, I almost wet myself (stupid weak bladder). I am a huge fan of Harry Potter; I've lost count of the number of times I've read the books and Archie and I regularly watch the films (well, the early one's, I never realised how scary they are until I watched them with a toddler). The tour are currently running a festive feature for Christmas called Hogwarts in the Snow so all the sets are decorated for the season; I couldn't think of any better way to get in the spirit!
THE GREAT HALL
Upon first entering the studio tour there's a huge cafe you can grab food from, entry to the shop and the tallest Christmas tree I've ever seen! We queued to enter the tour, which took under 10 minutes (and it was crazy busy) and I'll say no more about this part as it's an awesome surpise. We then entered the breath-taking Great Hall set, complete with christmas trees, decorations and flying witch toppers. It was also snowing through the grand windows (a beautiful effect). It really is magical and overwhelming - Archie's only 23 months and even his little mouth was open in awe.
After a short talk from one of the tour guides regarding some little-known HP set secrets, we wandered into the props room to have a look around. There's so much, we had no idea where to start so I'll just talk about some of our favourite parts. There was a Goblet of Fire demonstration (only on display for the Hogwarts in the Snow feature!), a fire and ice stall featuring very realistic elements that Archie loved; he had a great time throwing fake snow in the air and kept reluctantly waving his hand over the fire.
There's also a green screen room where you can queue to have pictures/videos taken in the flying Ford Anglia or on a broomstick ride. We did both, and the broomstick ride was alot of fun; I was given my very own Gryffindor robes and Archie sat on the broom with me. His little face lit up when he could see himself on the screen flying through London and he couldn't resist waving; everyone queueing can view the screens and he managed to cause quite a stir. Though we didn't purchase the video, we did buy the picture of the three of us flying in the Ford Anglia.
PLATFORM 9 3/4
After spending a long time in the props room, we headed on to the recently added Platform 9¾ to see the Hogwarts Express! You can walk through the train where they have a number of carriages set-up as they looked in the various films, a small shop selling merchandise (including actual Bertie Bott's every flavour beans with vomit flavour!) and a small set-up of carriages where you can watch a short film.
After Platform 9¾, there's another cafe where you can grab something to eat and indulge in a glass of butterbeer (including butterbeer flavoured ice-cream, another perk of Hogwarts in the Snow), of which
I Archie seriously loved and then there are a few larger sets just outside. We saw the huge knight bus, the Dursley's residence - Number 4, Privet Drive, the Hogwarts bridge and the wreck of a house where the Potters were murdered by Voldemort in Godric's Hollow - it sounds sad, but this one always chokes me up a bit!
Archie decided to take a little nap through the special effects department, which I'm quite grateful for as this is where you see some seriously cool, but scary s**t! There's too much to recite, but you can see a small amount in the pictures below, including a huge Aragog (the spider from the Chamber of Secrets), Nearly Headless Nick's face (this must be so weird for John Cleese) and a creepy unbodied Voldemort from the final movie. There are also body doubles of some of the cast including a huge Hagrid, a number of creepy death-eater/Voldemort masks, the basilisk's head and a lovely life-size Buckbeak.
From the special effects department, you walk through into the wonders of an actual Diagon Alley; it's lovely to see Weasley's Wizard Wheezes standing out at the end of the alley (considering it's the only place that brightens the otherwise derelict alley in Half-Blood Prince). Sadly, you can't enter the shops, but the windows are dressed incredibly, from the pygmy puff's adorning the display of Madam Malkins to the wonky pillars of Gringotts!
We had such a fantastic time at the Warner Bros Studio Tour and I'd recommend it without a doubt; for fans of the movie, it's magical, and even those who aren't as dedicated will stand in awe of the giant sets and incredible detail that goes into every single prop. I read some reviews suggesting younger children wouldn't enjoy it, but Archie had a whale of a time; there is so much for them to look at and do, they can enjoy themselves just as much as older children. Hogwarts in the Snow will run until the end of January, so get visiting!
Disclosure; We were kindly offered a family ticket to visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour especially to see the Hogwarts in the Snow feature, but all thoughts and opinions are our own. I really would live in the Gryffindor common room and scoff myself silly in the Great Hall every evening if it weren't frowned upon.
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