As part of my Birthday loveliness last month, I went on an adventure to the Harry Potter Studio Tour! For me, creative inspiration comes in many forms: writing, designing, graphics, and performance are all just as valid as painting and drawing. The perfect example of this is the Harry Potter franchise. Pretty much everything from JK Rowling writing the books, to the actors in the films, via all the prop makers, costume designers and visuals effects team is one giant mass of creative energy. I have also been a massive fan ever since picking up the books as a student, so getting to wander about the actual sets where the films were made, was something that was long overdue. So consider this a sort of creatives guide to the Harry Potter Studio Tour!
Now I am a massive spoiler addict. I normally can’t help but look a few pages ahead in a book or look up filming news for my favourite TV show, but I managed to not look up anything about the Harry Potter Tour before going. Not a single thing, go me! So I will be a good little Gryffindor and not spoil too many of the wonderful surprises for anyone else.
First off, there is a bit of queuing, but no more than you would expect at a major attraction to be honest. There is a short guided section at the beginning, but after that you are free to wander about. As you go along, there are enthusiastic staff members talking about that section and answering any questions you may have. Most sets are static, but you come across the odd bit of ‘magic’, which adds to the atmosphere. There are interactive sections too; for example if you have ever wanted to ride a broom or take a run to get onto platform 9¾ this is your chance!
Some of the larger and more complex sets are just jaw-droppingly impressive. The Great Hall really does feel like a medieval banqueting hall, Dumbledore’s office is just as astounding as I had imagined and walking along Diagon Alley was possibly my favourite part of the whole tour!
The effort that went into the small details, not only for the films but set up for the tour itself was extensive. Signs and shop windows in Diagon Alley, the labels and contents of all the jars in Potions; things that in reality would never be seen on screen, were still meticulously devised and created.
The tour is not not just about the visuals though, it also stimulates your other senses. I could smell the Hogwarts express before I saw it! One of my favourite moments from the tour was actually the scale model of Hogwarts and not just for seeing the amazing detail of the model itself. They played music from the films as you walked around the castle and lights turned the scene from night to day. I was totally transfixed and could have sat in that room for hours.
Behind the Scenes
I have long been fascinated by prop making, so the section devoted to the amazing art of the prop masters and set designers was like stumbling into a treasure trove at Gringotts! From scale models of sets, to the processes used by the creature effects teams, you can see how the book came to life on screen.
I left humming the theme music, wishing I had an owl, wanting to learn more about making animatronic creatures and generally feeling like I had experienced a little bit of magic. Pun intended. I missed the opening of The Forbidden Forest by just a few days, which is the perfect excuse to go back if you ask me! Whether you are a fan of the the book and films, or a set design or cinematography nut, The Harry Potter Studio Tour is a joy for the creative soul.
Have you been to The Harry Potter Studio Tour? What was your favourite part? Feel free to comment below or message me on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. And if you don’t want to miss out on any future posts, I’d love for you to sign up to my monthly email!