The Making of Harry Potter: Warner Brother's Studio Tour London

by Emily Zumchak / Aug 29, 2012 /

Hurry! The train to Hogwarts is leaving soon! Will you join me on my journey?

Harry Potter

My family and I have been Potter-heads for most of our lives. I have read all of the books back to back, and I have seen every film at least three times! I have owned many of the props since I was little, including Hermione’s wand, the Marauders map, a time-turner, and even a Hogwarts Robe of my own (which I have long since grown out of, but I still kept it until we left for Europe). The minute that the Wizarding World of Harry Potter came out in Universal Studios, we were there!

Hogwarts in Universal Studios

Hogwarts in Universal Studios

Recently, something even more exciting has opened! Now, just outside of London, they have opened the actual film-set for the Harry Potter films to the public! All the original props and pieces of set have been kept, and are now exhibited for all to see! It's at the Warner Brother's Studio Tour London.

My step dad and I in the actual Great Hall

My step dad and I in the actual Great Hall

The cupboard under the stairs, Harry Potter’s bedroom in the first film

The cupboard under the stairs, Harry Potter’s bedroom in the first film

First, you come in the main room, which is where you buy your tickets.

Notice the little boy in the bottom right corner looking completely blown away

Notice the little boy in the bottom right corner looking completely blown away

Then you are let into a dark room with a group of about 15 other people, where you watch a short video about the history of Harry Potter. This video includes short interviews from a few people who were involved in the making of Harry Potter. When the video is over, your tour guide comes in and introduces his or herself, and gives you a short summary on the magic you are about to witness.

Our tour guide standing in front of the doors of the Great Hall, giving us a short summary before he lets us in

Our tour guide standing in front of the doors of the Great Hall, giving us a short summary before he lets us in

The Great Hall, as seen in Harry Potter

The Great Hall, as seen in Harry Potter

The tour guide takes a few minutes to tell you about the Great Hall, how you are standing in the exact set that was used in the films, how they did the special effects (i.e. the floating candles and the magic ceiling), and how the costumes displayed around the edges were once worn by the actual actors.

Snape’s robe, worn by Alan Rickman in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Snape’s robe, worn by Alan Rickman in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Then he explains the rules of this tour (take as many pictures as you like, don’t go past the boundary ropes, etc.), and finally he bids you good luck as he goes off to greet the next batch of people, for the rest of this tour is a go-at-your-own-speed sort of tour.
And off you go.

The front gates of Hogwarts

The front gates of Hogwarts

Gryffindor Boy’s Dormitory

Gryffindor Boy’s Dormitory

A very large cauldron!

A very large cauldron!

It was fascinating to see how they did all the special effects! Something very interesting that I noticed was that they used a lot of tricks in perspective. They would have something built very small, but when the whole frame was filled with the model, it looked full scale!

A hallway in the Leaky Cauldron…

A hallway in the Leaky Cauldron…

…that is actually only two feet deep!

…that is actually only two feet deep!

There were long corridors that looked really long, but just got very small very fast. It was really very interesting! I especially loved seeing all these techniques, because I could figure out how to use them in my own videos!

Quidditch

I was really interested to learn how they did the Quidditch games, it was all done with green screens

The door to Harry’s vault in Gringotts

The door to Harry’s vault in Gringotts

They had props that were used by the actual actors in glass cases, and costumes that were once worn by the actors set up on mannequins. I was amused to find out how small the actors were in the first few movies!

Harry Potter wands

Some of the wands used in the films

Harry Potter costumes

Some of the costumes used in the films

Daniel Radcliffe’s handprint…it’s smaller than mine!

Daniel Radcliffe’s handprint…it’s smaller than mine!

Some of the set pieces were colossal, with fantastic design and beautifully made, and it was so exciting to see them in real life after seeing them in the films!

A giant clock in Hogwarts

A giant clock in Hogwarts

Hogwarts clock

Look at the breath-taking design and remarkable detail!

The giant Griffin that leads to Dumbledore’s office

The giant Griffin that leads to Dumbledore’s office

Inside Dumbledore’s office

Inside Dumbledore’s office

Dumbledore's Office

Some of the paintings in Dumbledore’s office of the old headmasters, it’s incredible how much detail they put into everything

Muggles in their “rightful place”

Muggles in their “rightful place”

They even had full rooms that were used in the films all set up!

Burrow

The Burrow, where the Weasley family lives

Hagrid's Hut

Hagrid’s Hut

Dolores Umbridge’s very pink office in the Ministry of Magic

Dolores Umbridge’s very pink office in the Ministry of Magic

I really enjoyed looking at all the detail they put into everything, especially the props.

Harry Potter - props

Harry Potter - props

Some of the props used in the films…they are all incredibly intricate

I also found out a really interesting fact about the paintings throughout Hogwarts. Many of the paintings that weren’t moving were based on some of the painters themselves! It was really interesting to see the pictures of some of the prop designers and crew next to the Hogwarts paintings of them, and how alike they were.

Some of the paintings that were hung next to the moving stairs in Hogwarts

Some of the paintings that were hung next to the moving stairs in Hogwarts

I was also very interested to read about all of the animal actors, which they had pictures and descriptions of on a big board.

animal actors, Harry Potter

The cute and fluffy animal actors!

Most of our time was spent in this massive room, where all of the above pictures were taken. Nearly all of the set pieces and props were in this room.

Harry Potter

After we were satisfied with our time in that room, we headed outside…

Night Bus

The three-story Night Bus

All the big set pieces, the ones that would’ve been too hard to move inside without breaking, were moved inside. They served refreshments outside too, including my favorite…Butterbeer!

Butterbeer

Butterbeer on Privet Drive!

Hogwarts bridge

My step-dad in front of the Hogwarts bridge

Harry Potter's house

Harry’s house in Godric’s Hollow, where his parents died and where he was given his legendary lightning-shaped scar

After wandering around outside for a while, we decided to head inside, to the next part of the tour.

Harry Potter creatures

Inside this room were all the creatures. The making of the creatures (like Dobby, the Gringotts Goblins, Aragog, and Buckbeak) was all explained. There were so many amazing makeup effects, materials, and hard work put into all these tiny little models.

Siren

One of the Sirens

Dragon, Thestral

A Dragon and a Thestral

Aragog

Aragog!

They even explained how some of the things worked. All the mechanics and technology that went into some of these creatures was astonishing!

werewolf, Harry Potter

This is how the werewolf worked

Buckbeak…they even had him in action!

Buckbeak…they even had him in action!

My mom with a dead Dobby

My mom with a dead Dobby

It was amazing seeing all these things that I thought were just computer animations, which were actually mechanical creatures!

Unfortunately, my camera ran out for one of the best bits…Diagon Alley! It was all there in the flesh! It was an absolutely phenomenal piece of set. It was all there, the head on the Weasley’s shop even tipped his hat! I was truly awed by this part of the tour, it was utterly astounding! I could’ve spent hours in this bit of the tour, it was too bad that we had to walk right through it. But it was nothing compared to what we saw next.

Last, but certainly not least, was the finale of the tour. Throughout the whole tour it was called “the surprise”, and a surprise it was. It was the most spectacular thing I have ever seen. It was literally breath-taking, and I was completely awe-struck by it.

Sadly, this unforgettable sight is for me to know, and for you to find out. If you would like to see these things for yourself, go to wbstudiotour.co.uk/ to find out more!

I had the most amazing experience at this tour, and I would recommend it to absolutely anyone! Go see for yourself! I guarantee that you will not be disappointed!

 

 

Emily Zumchak is a member of the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program.

 

All photos courtesy and copyright Emily Zumchak

 

 

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