Geeking out at Harry Potter Studios in London

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If you’re not a big Harry Potter fan, you might be surprised to find out that 2014 is going to be a milestone year for the boy wizard. Never mind that the final film in the franchise, The Deathly Hallows Part 2, came out over two years ago, or that the last of the seven book series was published way back in 2007, the Boy Who Lived still is still kicking!

Sometime next year, Diagon Alley will open at Universal Studios Orlando, offering a totally new experience for Potter fans. If the new rides and attractions are half as good as the ones in Hogsmeade at neighboring park Islands of Adventure, it’s going to be mind-blowing.

To say I’m excited is an understatement. I will be there with my Slytherin robe on and wand at the ready. (Seriously. I’ve been sorted. Have you?)

Harry Potter and The Duke & Duchess in the same place = me geeking out big time.

Harry Potter and The Duke & Duchess in the same place = me geeking out big time.

To mentally prepare for the maddening and brilliant and exhausting grand opening of Diagon Alley, I skipped a day at WTM a few weeks back and made my way to Warner Bros. Studio outside London to take the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Mind you in past trips to London, I’d already checked out most of the hyperlocal Potter sites, like Platform 9 3/4 and the Dementor’s Bridge.

Having experienced those sites and having worked the grand opening of the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter three years ago, I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by the studio tour at all. I figured no movie set could compare with walking down the fully constructed streets of Hogsmeade, drinking a Butterbeer in the Hog’s Head Pub or having a wand choose me at Ollivander’s Wand Shop.

Costumes from all 8 Potter films are on display, including Quidditch gear, Prof. Umbridge's pink suits, Yule Ball formal wear and general wizard-wear

Costumes from all 8 Potter films are on display, including Quidditch gear, Prof. Umbridge’s pink suits, Yule Ball formal wear and general wizard-wear

I was really happy to be really wrong on this one.

The masks & special effects room was one of my favorite on the tour. It's unfathomable how much detail and expertise goes into making a movie (or 8) like this!

The masks & special effects room was one of my favorite on the tour. It’s unfathomable how much detail and expertise goes into making a movie (or 8) like this!

Love fonts? The graphic designers who made all the printed pieces for the films are wizards in their own right!

Love fonts? The graphic designers who made all the printed pieces for the films are wizards in their own right!

Did you know the Knight Bus is two traditional double decker buses cut and glued together?

Did you know the Knight Bus is two traditional double decker buses cut and glued together?

Eeeeee! Harry's Muggle home on Privet Drive. I can't even!

Eeeeee! Home of the Dursleys, Harry’s obnoxious Muggle relatives, on Privet Drive. I can’t even!

Remember this scene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXPFenHYidU. It's Wizard Chess!

Remember this scene? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EXPFenHYidU. It’s Wizard Chess!

Gazing into the Mirror of Erised, like Harry did.

Gazing into the Mirror of Erised, like Harry did. This mirror is supposed to show you your heart’s desire. All I saw was photobombing tourists when I looked.

It's confirmed - I have a knack for broom-riding. No one is surprised.

It’s confirmed – I have a knack for broom-riding. No one is surprised.

There are so many fun facts and sets and props to see as you make your way through the massive tour, from the Weasley’s house to the cupboard under the stairs to the potions classroom to the Great Hall. There’s an enormous and impressive model of Hogwart’s that was used for aerial footage, the hairy, animatronic spider Aragog that took 100 technicians to operate, Hagrid’s giant robot head and a stunning hallway full of original concepts and drawings from the artists who brought the book to life onscreen.

Dumbledore's Office & his costume & wig

Dumbledore’s Office

The Diagon Alley set is just as you might expect it to be. Tight quarters, a little dark and so detailed. Wonder if Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando will be similar?

The Diagon Alley set is just as you might expect it to be. Tight quarters, a little dark and so detailed. Wonder if Diagon Alley at Universal Orlando will be similar?

Original drawings from the artists who brought the books to life onscreen

Original drawings from the artists who brought the books to life onscreen

There’s Butterbeer to sample (a different recipe than the one in Orlando but still tasty) and Nimbuses & Anglias to ride. Yes, I bought all the green screen photos AND video of me riding a broom through London and the Quidditch pitch. Yes, it was expensive. Yes, it would’ve been less embarrassing if I’d had kids with me on the tour…

The enormous model of Hogwart's

The enormous model of Hogwart’s

It’s clear that I highly recommend this tour for Harry Potter fans of all ages, whether you’re a bit over-the-top like I am or even if you’re just a casual fan of the books or movies. It’s a really fun way to spend a few hours and a must-do if you’re headed to London, and the whole tour exceeded my expectations by leaps and bounds. It’s a totally different experience than what Universal Orlando offers with the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and I think that’s what makes it worth visiting.

With Harry Potter, the magic of the story never ends, and that’s what makes it so fun to be a grown-up woman with a wand.

***

Just remember you MUST purchase tickets in advance as they are not sold onsite. And it’s a bit of a hike via train and bus to get all the way out to Watford Junction, so don’t show up and expect to get in. That’s a Muggle mistake!

Are you a huge Harry Potter fan? Please tell me about your fandom! (So I don’t feel quite so silly!)

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13 thoughts on “Geeking out at Harry Potter Studios in London

  1. Elizabeth

    I love Harry Potter somuch!! I haven’t been to London but I have been to WWHP twice. And I re-read the books every summer. And I watch the movies all the time. And…I’m 32.

    Reply
  2. Andi

    Haha I’m actually writing a post about HP to go live tomorrow and I’m struggling to write it, because I can’t stand the books/movies (so sorry!). Maybe you should write the post for me! :)

    Reply
  3. Amber

    I went to the Studio Tour in October during my first trip to London – definitely as amazing as you make it out to be! Granted, I’m a hardcore fan, but I thought it was really well put together. Walking into that room with the giant Hogwarts castle replica actually took my breath away. I would spend the money to go back there the next time I’m in London, no question!

    Reply
  4. Camels & Chocolate

    I still have to blog my experience there, which happened six months ago (eek!). I was sort of expecting the whole place to be bigger. It only took us an hour to get through there! But the line for Butterbeer was sooooo long (again, summer, which in London means a high of 60, heh), we didn’t get to try any =/

    Reply
  5. Amanda

    Yes, I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan, too! I went to the Studio Tour last summer, and LOVED it so much. I totally want to go again!

    Sadly, though, I haven’t made it down to Orlando yet. Once I heard they were planning to expand the HP stuff down there, though, I was glad I waited. But now I’ll HAVE to go!

    Reply
  6. Melissa

    Hello from a Gryffindor. (I’ve also been sorted.) I find myself watching those Harry Potter marathons with commercials each time they’re on the Family Channel even though I own all the films. Why do I do that? Anyway, this post is adorable. I’ve never done the Potter tour, but I absolutely intend to next time I visit London.

    Reply
  7. Silvia

    Ahh this looks amazing! I’m going to London in a couple of weeks and never would have thought about checking out the studios, but now I think I might just have to!

    Reply

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