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 experience.
Sure, some days you’ll be bound to see more tots than twenty somethings’, but the amount of twenty and thirty year olds gleefully pawing through Hogwarts regalia 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, England, the Harry Potter tour starts with the bus ride to to the studio location , a purple double decker bus with “Knight Bus” marking the front. Thus begins a day of geeking out on book and movie references.
Once you’ve arrived at the studios, the outside of the building is a little disappointing, reflecting a corporate like boxy building that could be anywhere. Inside though… well that’s another story.
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 attraction takes you past Harry’s under the stairs bedroom- and you stop to marvel at the small proportions of the room – the actual one used in the film.
Once inside a large hall, the perky tour guide tells the muggle’s the lowdown. Two huge arenas filled with props, sets and info about Harry Potter’s world, one called J, one called K. JK! No, but really.
The tour starts in the Great Hall.
From here we were free to peruse 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 enormity 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 experience 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 to allow you to capture 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 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?