I went to Watford Junction today to go on a tour of ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ at the Warner Brothers London studios. I took a London Overground train from platform 9 (and no, not from 9 & 3/4) at Euston (alas, there’s no direct train from King’s Cross), and although this route takes longer than one of the more direct London Midland trains (but still only take 45 minutes), it was a far cheaper option and Oyster cards are valid on it. This train route also terminates at Watford Junction so there’s little chance of missing the stop. Once at Watford Junction, I took the special tour shuttle bus to the studios:
Visitors arriving from Watford Junction station can take the shuttle bus direct to the studios. The bus stops just outside the station and there’s one every 20 minutes during opening hours. The journey takes around 15 minutes and costs £2 return (tickets are bought from the driver when boarding at Watford). Disappointingly, the bus is one one storey high and there are no beds on it
There’s a designated area for Thunderbolts and other broomsticks next to the muggles’ car park (well, that’s what someone told me these were)
The visitors’ entrance. Coincidentally the two studio lots that house the tour are named ‘J’ and ‘K’ respectively
Before entering the tour there’s a gift shop where visitors can buy Harry Potter themed items, like these very scary Hedwig mugs
This tour truly is a Harry Potter fan’s dream: all the sets, props and costumes on display are the real sets, props and costumes that featured in the movies.
What was Harry complaining about? I’ve seen smaller studio flats in London going for £900 a month!
I wasn’t very impressed with the authenticity of the dining benches in the Great Hall: no decent graffiti etched into the wood, and no chewing gum stuck under the table
Part of the ‘Leaky Cauldron’ set. The pictures hanging on the wall were rather interesting …
I’m not quite sure what’s going on here
It would seem even wizards succumb to the power of drink
Look how tidy the boys dormitory is … and it smelt remarkably fresh. Clearly a set and not at all real
A selection of the original portraits from the Hogwarts Portrait Room, including one of Blackadder II …
… comedian David Walliams (camping it down)
… and the creator of the first wizardworld’s search engine Sir Google Flange (I’m sure this was tax deductible)
Professor Umbridge’s office looks just like my bedroom
The sinister ‘Magic is Might’ statue from the Ministry of Magic was like something out of Communist Russia. Unlikely to be a coincidence, one of the figures looked remarkably like Lenin (second from the left)
After mulling around Hagrid’s cottage, Dumbledore’s study and the students’ common room, the tour leads outside where visitors can buy and consume real Butterbeer! The ingredients appear to be a guarded secret, and after tasting the immensely sweet concoction I’m not surprised: dentists and nutritional experts in particular may have cause for concern if that information was publicly revealed.
Butterbeer – not a drink for Diabetics
Back inside in studio K, the tour reveals more production secrets.
‘Tis just a flesh wound. John Cleese’s Nearly Headless Nick mask, one of many original masks, prosthetics and life size models of the cast on display in studio K
Amazing drawings and artwork of the sets, costumes and characters on display in studio K including these pieces by concept artist Rob Bliss (is that a portrait of Peter Wyngarde’s General Klytus on the right there?)
I have the same reaction when I eat too many Fruit Pastilles. Inside ‘Honeydukes’ sweetshop along Diagon Alley
So Tommy Cooper really was a wizard: a detail in the window of ‘Honeydukes’So Tommy Cooper really was a wizard: a detail in the window of ‘Honeydukes’
… and the three hour tour ended with a peek at the stunning model of Hogwarts used in the movies
More details about this fantastic tour and how to book tickets (pre-booking is essential) can be found here. (PS I wasn’t even given a chocolate frog for including this link on my blog. Tut!)
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