10 reasons you should bother with the Harry Potter Studio Tour
10. Wizards. You know it, bra.
Come on. If you’re even considering making this trip it’s for one reason and one reason alone – you bloody love wizards and you don’t care who know it. Visitors to the Leavesden museum are invited to consider the sheer creative force and cumulative talent that went into the decade long phenomena that was the making of the Harry Potter films; a celebration of all that is embarrassingly, gloriously magical. A spectacular showcase of amalgamate skill, imagination and ingenuity, arguably, this fantastic interactive tour has more impact than the films themselves. Certainly the dodgy first two, at least.
#9. Aragog is still a bad-ass
Gog at Aragog (the car sized animatronic spider punched with genuine yak hair and requiring around 100 departmental experts to operate) who has been gathering dust in storage since the completion of the third film. Now the cheery chap is on display alongside a stunning scale model of everyone’s favourite bad-boy Hippogriff Buckbeak (complete with snow owl coat for which each crisp white feather was tweezed painstakingly into place by an army of art finishers).
#8. REVELATIONS of Great Hall proportions
Though we were pretty disappointed to discover that the ceiling within this impressive space is not actually enchanted (rather a mess with wires and technical/lighting equipment) other details distracted. From the intricate table decor consisting of quirkily coily cutlery and glass carafes atop with mock gold moulded boar heads, to the genuine flagstone floor made of the same stuff as you’d find in a real life castle, there is plenty to feast the eyes upon. Authentic, beautiful stuff all round, though we don’t recommend clapping your hands and expecting the plates to fill with chicken. It doesn’t work, and the staff don’t much care for it.
#7. Never Ending Props
Over the 10 years or so it took to complete the films, 10s of 1000s of props were not merely sourced but made from scratch – for example around 15,000 books/various forms of print and over 17,000 wands (not to mention the excess of 40,000 items designed for sale in the Weasley Twins’ joke shop). What would have happened to all this if it wasn’t for the museum? Inevitably the odd wand or magic spell book would have found its way onto e-bay and, having fetched the equivalent of a few Galleons, into a glass cabinet as part of some fanatic’s prize collection, but this way every Tom Dick and Harry gets a look in. And let’s face it, they don’t come more common than you.
#6. ENTER, PUNY MORTALS!
Following an epic cinematic introduction to the tour consisting of flash backs from the films as narrated by Radcliffe, Grint and Watson, the screen rolls back to reveal the imposing doors of the Great Hall – signalling the way into the museum. It will very much remind you of that bit in Jurassic Park where guests seated in the auditorium get to look through into the secret lab where they make the dinosaurs, except this IS HAPPENING TO YOU FOR REAL!
#5. ‘Return To Maker’ – the insane props that were never used
Not only is there abundance of cinematic goodies to feast your eyes on, there are countless examples of inspired ideas that never made the final cut; complete props and make-ups that emerged through the embryonic stages of planning into physical form that did not get used at all. In one artistic brainwave, the entire back of an extra was hand painted with an original tattoo design that, once shot, could be edited to appear as if it were moving and shifting over his skin. Such details, all the time, effort and fine craftsmanship that went into them, would likely go undocumented if it wasn’t for this fantastic place (the first of its kind to exist in the UK) dedicated to house them. And it also means you’ll exit your trip armed with EXCLUSIVE Harry Potter knowledge NO ONE ELSE HAS. And frankly, if THAT doesn’t get you laid…
#4. Butterbeer. It’s happening.
That’s right, for a seemingly steep £2.95, you can try the wizard-drunkener for yourself. Expecting you to pay for the pleasure ON TOP of the £28 entry fee, one might expect Warner Bros to have arranged for the stuff to be served hot in a little steaming tankard, served by an actual house-elf, or at the very least with some percentage of alcohol in it (it actually arrives cold and suspiciously murky in colour, in a flimsy plastic cup). Nevertheless, for anyone with a sweet tooth, I would venture to say that it is delicious; like liquidised crème caramel atop with marshmallow gumph.
#3.Riding a broomstick like a boss
For an equally extortionate £10 you can have your photo taken sat astride a Firebolt or Nimbus 2000 (though tbh who would choose the humble Nimbus over the BADMAN Firebolt?), the resulting image superimposed onto your choice of background. A perfect souvenir for people who are literally out of control on Butterbeer (ie us.)
Upon completion of the eighth and final film, so many spare wands were left lying around that an entire room has been devoted to their display. And to each and every one of the 100s of WB employees hired to work on the films over the 10 years spanning production, a wand has been dedicated via a little name tag on the box. Which is rather nice.
#1. SHOPPING FOR NONSENSE. Why not, eh?
If you have any money left at this stage you’re clearly a maniac who deserves to be locked away, so frankly why not spend your final precious moments of freedom spending £9 on a bag on Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans and £13 on one lone chocolate frog? Seriously though, the gift shop is pretty insane – look with your eyes, buy not with your hands.
So there you have it! If you can afford to shell out £28 to bring yourself face to face with what millions of us have been trying to deny for the past 15 odd years (that in all probability Hogwarts, and the wizarding world to which it belongs, does not exist in our universe), then for the love of Qudditch go. And send us your Firebolt pic – we’re totes building a team.
For info about this madness, check out the official site here.
By Genty Miller