Oh my! How excited were we on Sunday? We took our Muggle-selves off to Warner Brothers Studio in Leavsden to marvel at the delights of the Harry Potter Studio tour.
An expensive treat - yes! But it was a present shared for myself and my daughter's birthday.
Pulling up in the car on a beautiful sunny afternoon we were greeted by the sight of huge chess pieces, traffic cones that looked like wizard hats and huge posters from the movie. Cue lots of excited squealing from me and the children.
We opted for a 6pm tour (frankly it was the only time available on the day we wanted). On arrival the kids were each given a Harry Potter Passport to stamp on the way round. As we joined the queue we waited patiently next to “the cupboard under the stairs” for the doors to open. Not to spoil it for people who haven’t been – I won’t go into too much detail – but my eldest daughter (dressed as Hermione) who’d just celebrated her eighth birthday was allowed to help push the huge doors open and led the crowd into the Great Hall! Bloody Brilliant!
A lot of families whinge about the price (which is basically around £90 for a family ticket) but to us we were not disappointed at all. Yes – there are temptations to spend more along the way, especially the green screen room. Here you can fly the enchanted Ford Anglia – or ride your broomstick through various settings from the Hogwarts grounds to London. This set us back £21 for three photographs as our daughters’ wanted to go separately on the Nimbus broomsticks – we opted not to buy the DVD’s which would have been at least another £25 on top.
The rest of the areas can be strolled around at your leisure – there’s so much to see including sets, props and costumes. In the outdoor area you can cross Hogwarts Bridge, knock on the door of Privet Drive, sit inside the Ford Anglia and stand on the back step of the huge purple Knight Bus. Here is where you also get the opportunity to try out Butterbeer – something we had all been looking forward to! For a small plain plastic cup it is around £3 – add a bit extra for a named “Butterbeer” plastic glass or tankard. We shared two cups between the five of us – it is pretty good, a kind of cream soda meets toffee fizzy drink with a creamy froth on top. Young Fin particularly enjoyed it.
In the next area you get to see prosthetics, animatronics and large models, including Aragog the spider, the hippogriff and Grawp the giants huge head. This then leads you onto Diagon Alley – personally I particularly enjoyed this part. Gazing adoringly at the intricate details of all the shop fronts – plenty of photo opportunities here, you really feel part of the atmosphere. The 6pm tour although busy was not overcrowded we got a good chance to have a look at everything and the staff were great and knowledgeable. Finally you get to the art room, where you can look at designs, paintings and models. The grand finale is when you enter the last room where you are greeted by the sight of the huge Hogwarts Castle model – it is stunning and caused huge gasps and “wows” from all of us as we entered the room.
Before entering the gift shop you reach a room full of wands, the walls are stacked high with boxes and boxes, each one named with a character, actor, set designer, prop maker. J.K. Rowling even has one……..
The gift shop is awesome, floating candles, a huge chandelier and bright red Chinese lanterns hang from the ceiling. Having had an expensive weekend I wasn’t in the position to spend more – all the favourite sweets were on display – chocolate frogs, Bertie Botts Beans and lots of Lollipops. I allowed the birthday girl a box of Bertie Botts – but at £8.95 it was a very expensive treat, my other daughter had a Dark Mark lolly and my son a Sugar Mouse lolly a more reasonable £2.95 each. I was tempted to buy a chocolate frog, but at £7.95 and the thought of it melting in the car on the way home put me off (but the box was so cool). The replica wands will set you back £25, they were intricately carved from wood, with many characters wands on offer – as a Potter fan I was very tempted. There are also broomsticks, clothing and lots of soft toys including a
lovely Hedwig Snowy Owl – again £25! My daughter didn’t want to part with any birthday money so we left with our sweets. So far I have only been brave enough to try the black pepper jelly bean (which really does taste just like black pepper), Daddy was a bit braver and tried the bogie one (judging by the face he pulled it was pretty gross).
All in all we were there just under three hours and enjoyed every magical moment – Mischief Managed x