hpThe Making of Harry Potter
I can’t get enough of Harry Potter! We were fortunate to be in London, England just as the studios where the Harry Potter movies were filmed were opened as a tourist attraction. The Warner Brothers Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter is an easy short day trip from London.
Leavesden Studios are in a huge warehouse. The prepurchased tickets are for a timed entry, which prevents overcrowding. You can buy them online at http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk
Transportation from London to Leavesden took 1 1/2 hours, and it was easy to find our way. First we took the subway to Euston Train Station, where I bought a pasty to set the mood, and then we took a train to Watford Junction. It’s easy to spot the direct connecting bus when you leave the station as it’s a double decker covered in photos from the movie.
As you wait for your timed entry, you can take a peek in the cupboard under the stairs. After a short movie and guided tour of the Great Hall, visitors wander at their own pace through the sets. This allows a chance to wonder at the incredible thought and detail that were put into the set. It was lovely to have the time to reflect on the detail that flashed by on the screen, such as Dolores Umbridge’s jewelry or the painted portraits.
The major sets are there, such as the Gryffindor Common Room, Dumbledore’s Office, and the Night Bus. You learn interesting tidbits, like that the boys’ beds were made for them at the beginning of the series, so by the end of the filming, the actors’ legs would stretch way over the ends. I loved the Weasley’s house interior with its crooked walls and furniture. There were knitting needles magically stitching a sweater and if you waved a wand, the knife would chop carrots. You can walk down the Diagon Alley set towards the Weasley’s joke shop.
There’s a lineup to buy a photoshopped picture of yourself flying on a broom and snacks in the courtyard half way through. Otherwise, the timed tickets make sure that the sets are not overcrowded. Other highlights include a section on special effects, displays of costumes, and a display cabinet full of paper props, like O.W.L exams.
There is one last beautiful surprise at the end before you hit that gift shop packed with Chocolate Frogs, Every Flavour Bertie Botts and Fizzing Whizbees. We lingered for 3 hours.
Until you get to London, you will want to read Harry Potter Page to Screen : the Complete Filmmaking Journey. It’s a huge book on the making of the movies. The library also has the Harry Potter stories read by the incomparable Jim Dale in the Overdrive collection. You can download them to your iPod to listen to while you clean your house, a compensation for the absence of Mrs. Weasley’s housecleaning magic!