I met up with a girlfriend before we shoved off to London who told me, rather enthusiastically, that if I did nothing else in London, I had to go see the studio tour, “The Making of Harry Potter.”
Because, she said, if you’re a fan — and we both are — I will lovelovelove it.
Let me just tell you how much of a fan I’ve been of the book series: my sister and I rented a hotel room in Waikīkī to read the last book. Yes, we sat in a hotel room and read a book. Cover to cover. It was awesome.
Going to the actual set where all eight “Harry Potter” films were shot over a span of 10 years would be completely mind-blowing to this fan girl.
The films were shot in an area called Leavesden, just north of London. Leavesden Studios — now owned by Warner Bros. — is built on the site of RAF Leavesden, a former World War II airfield and wartime aircraft factory. (This is where some of the James Bonds movies were filmed, too.)
Once production wrapped on “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2” in 2010, the studio was left with a treasure trove of props, artifacts, photos, costumes and sets, all created specially for the film series.
In order to preserve these artifacts — and, let’s face it, still make some money off the franchise — Warner Bros. set up a studio tour where fans like me can walk down the Great Hall, meander down Diagon Alley (top photo) and even drink the famous Butterbeer. (Oh, I’ve been dying to try that!)
So on March 31, 2012, two years after the last film was shot here, the studio tour opened, sprawling over two soundstages and a backlot used in movies’ production.
The tour costs 31 pounds (roughly $50) per adult, 2 pounds more each for the bus from Watford Junction to the studio. You have to book your tickets in advance — you pick a time slot so the tour groups don’t overwhelm the studio — and find your own transportation to Watford Junction, where the tour bus will pick you up.
Here’s what the tour looked like — and I’ve toned down the gushing:
We booked one of the latest tours — around 6:30 p.m. — so we spent the rest of the morning and afternoon touring around London. We figured this would be a nice way to end a day of sightseeing and eating. It turned out to be a great time to go since the tour was small and there weren’t that many kids screaming and running around. (I would’ve done that had I been 10.)
The first stop on the tour is the Great Hall, incidentally the first place Harry Potter himself visited when he arrived at Hogwarts. It was really only fitting the tour started here. This is the actual set where the Great Hall scenes were filled. And lining the wall were costumes from each of the four houses.
Follow Cat on her #FoxHoneymoon to England, Scotland and Ireland on Twitter @thedailydish and Instagram @catherinetoth. Track her travels at #CatTravels.