Today, Harry Potter would be 34 years old (his birthday is the 31st July 1980). That age might make a number of kidults feel rather old, and it also goes a long way to explain why adults outnumber children at the Warner Bros. Harry Potter studio tour.
Sure, some days you’ll be bound to see more tots than twentysomethings, but the amount of twenty- and thirty-year-olds gleefully traipsing through Hogwarts while wearing T-shirts emblazoned with slogans such as “Make love not Horcruxes” and “Don’t let the Muggles get you down,” was a sight to behold.
Situated a few miles from Watford Junction Station in London, England, the Harry Potter studio tour starts with the trip to the studio location, as you hop onto a purple double decker bus with “Knight Bus” marking the front. Thus begins a day of geeking out on Harry Potter book and movie references.
Once you’ve arrived at the studio, the outside of the building is a little disappointing, a corporate-like boxy building that could be anywhere. Inside is where the real magic is.
Pictures of Ron, Hermione and Harry dangle from the ceiling and lights beam onto a flying car hanging precariously in the corner. The line in to the studio tour takes you past Harry’s under-the-stairs bedroom—and you stop to marvel at the small proportions of the room, which is the actual one used in the film.
Once inside a large hall, the perky tour guide gives the muggles the lowdown. Two huge arenas are filled with props, sets and info about the world of Harry Potter; one called J, one called K. JK! No, but really.
The studio tour starts in the Great Hall.
From here we were free to explore at will and pick up as many Harry Potter factoids as we could. The impressive thing about the movies is the attention to detail—the small things that we don’t realize. This varied from handwritten labels on every single potion in Slughorn’s laboratory, with ingredients sourced from all over London, to fully fleshed out articles in the Wizarding newspaper, the Daily Prophet. They even hired an editor for it.
The scale of Harry Potter was amazing to see. It’s one thing to watch and enjoy but to see the scope in person and appreciate the forethought and planning and sheer scale of the project was something really special.
There was also Butter Beer to try—huge tankards in the yard where we could sip the creamy brew. It was sweet and had a huge foam head. It’s one of the three places in the WORLD that you can get authentic Butter Beer—the others are Orlando and Tokyo!
The Harry Potter studio tour offered a number of interactive elements. There were broomstick makers demonstrating their skill in crafting the brooms (with the Nimbus 3000 on display).
They also had a green screen studio to allow you to capture yourself flying. You could also meander through the special effects unit, which was dedicated to explaining the creation of the Hogwarts magical monsters, from intricate circuitry to make eyes glow and wings flap to the prosthetics used to create Hagrid.
Another room showcased some original artwork from the Harry Potter movies, and one of the most awe inspiring rooms held a miniature scale model of Hogwarts.
On the way home we couldn’t help but breeze by Kings Cross Station, London to check out Platform 9 ¾, because, well, you never know right?
Tickets for the Harry Potter studio tour start at £31 / $52 for an adult.