I booked this back in October as soon as it was announced, and finally the date of our Warner Bros Harry Potter tour arrived on Saturday! I’ll pop most of the photos and info under a cut, since there’s an awful lot and some people who are visiting in the future might not want spoilers…
The Hall displays lots of the costumes from the school, like uniforms and the teachers’ outfits. It was a bit smaller than I was expecting, and lacking the iconic ceiling since that’s added with CG effects, but still wonderful to see all the details. A perky guide – or ‘interactor’ as they call themselves – talked us through this room, but then (somewhat thankfully) the rest of the tour is self-guided.
The next room is a huge area sectioned into various small sets and other miscellaneous items dotted about. You can spot the Mirror of Erised, the ice sculpture from the Yule Ball and lots of props from the Room of Requirement.
The Griffindor Common Room:
The Potions Dungeon:
The Weasleys’ house, which had bonus fun interactive wand action to chop the veg and iron clothes.
A section dedicated to the Death Eaters, with spooky masks and costumes.
I loved the graphic design corner – what a dream job!
And of course evil Umbridge’s pink fluffy office, complete with kitten plates.
The next part of the tour is outside in the Back lot, where you can buy a Butterbeer (or um, a Starbucks) and admire the Knight Bus – at 3 stories high, it was bolted together from vintage buses and had to be weighted down so it doesn’t topple over.
You can hop on the back for a photo op, and also get into the flying Ford Anglia and onto Hagrid’s motorbike. There’s also the real 4 Privet Drive, Hogwarts Bridge and Wizards’ Chess pieces.
Back inside to the Creatures studio where all the magical beasts are crafted, from goblins to giant spiders and hippogriffs.
There’s also a full-scale animatronic Hagrid, and these life-size models, which are really realistic and a bit creepy.
Next, step through onto Diagon Alley! It was quite surreal being somewhere that looked so familiar from the films and being able to peep into the windows.
The penultimate room is dedicated to the art department, who come up with all the concept art to plan the sets, characters and buildings. A massive amount of work went into making real architectural drawings for every building in the films. It was fascinating to see the mini scale paper models and hear that some of the characters, like Dobby the elf and the Hungarian Horntail dragon, took 50-100 artist drafts to get right.
Perhaps the most stunning exhibit is purposefully left til last – a 1:24 scale model of the whole of Hogwarts. It took 74 man-years of work to complete, and evolved as the books revealed more details about the castle. The lights change to show it in day and night – it’s really quite mesmerising.
Even the gift shop was pretty spectacular, containing this Daily Prophet printing press where you could get your photo ‘shopped onto the front page.
I’m not a gigantic Potter superfan, but this was a wonderful exhibition that I think would even appeal to non-Potterheads. You can’t help but be enthralled by the details in the sets, props and costumes on display. The sensible timed booking slots and unlimited photo policy (hurrah!) make it relatively stress-free despite being obviously busy and full of children. You can book tickets here.
Loads more photos here!