A much-delayed second blog post of our visit to the Harry Potter Studios in London back in May! Again, please excuse the photos — dead camera battery, really low light and a lot of glass cases made it hard to get great pics on my phone. While we were in the train station area, we had the chance to get a up close with the Hogwarts Express steam engine, and the kids tried to push their carts through platform 9-3/4. There were some train compartments set up with a few select scenes from the movies, which were fun to walk through.
There was also a small section devoted to the graphic design team for the films. The scope of their work was pretty amazing, as every single book cover, label, newspaper, magazine, flyer, sign, map, package, etc had to be created from scratch. That must have been a pretty dreamy job, if you ask me.
Next, we had lunch in the backlot, complete with Butterbeer of course! The kids were divided on their opinions — Oliver adores anything sweet, candy-like, and pop of all kinds. He was all over it! Danica isn’t so fond of super sweet stuff, so she enjoyed the cream but the drink, not so much.
After lunch we toured the backlot, full of fun bits of the movies like the Knight Bus, No 4 Privet Drive, the Potters’ house, the bridge to Hogwarts, Hagrid’s bike, and the Flying Car. The kids really enjoyed these parts, I think it felt really real to them.
Next up we wandered through the extensive display of masks, animatronics, and that sort of thing. The goblin hands were so real, it was amazing to feel them and see how they worked. There were examples of so many animatronic props and characters. Dobby, the Monster book of Monsters, disembodied hands and arms, and even Hagrid’s head! I was interested to learn that for a majority of shots, Robbie Coltrane (Hagrid) wore an animatronic version of his own head, in a much larger size to convey his half-giant size! It was amazing to see the videos of him getting dressed, and to see the head close up. My other favourite bit of trivia is that Fawkes, the phoenix, had real tear ducts made exactly as humans’ function. When he cries the tears to heal Harry, his eyes actually well up with tears just like a human, before squeezing out a tear to spill over the rims of his eyes. So cool.
Walking down Diagon Alley was a definite highlight. We loved looking in the storefronts, it was pretty sweet. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes was so cool with it’s moving parts, like the Weasley head popping out of the roof an tipping his hat. Seeing all the wand boxes piled up high in the windows of Ollivander’s, and the broomsticks in the window of the Quality Quidditch Supplies shop. So fantastic.
The set design and drafting section was pretty awesome for me. The drafting-school-graduate in me was in awe of the amazing architectural drawings and details for all the sets. It was incredible to see all these minute details drawn with such precision. I love these types of drawings and it made my heart sing. There were all kinds of small-scale foam core, balsa wood, and paper models of sets and environments.
At the end of the tour, you get to walk around the large scale model of Hogwarts and the grounds. This model was used for exterior scenes and flyovers, and is just so perfectly detailed and beautiful. It was pretty amazing to see (and difficult to photograph with just my phone! sorry!) and I could imagine the movies and the castle like it was real.
All in all, we had an incredible day at the Harry Potter Studio tour. I would definitely recommend visiting if you’re a fan of the books or movies, it really brings the whole series to life once again. It was, quite simply, magical.