In our house, Harry Potter is nothing short of a God.
A couple of years ago, the 'Elves' that visit our house on Christmas Eve with special presents for the kids to open before bedtime brought the Harry Potter movie box set, and we watched zero Christmas telly for the entire holiday as we were far too busy enjoying our Harry Potter movie marathon. H even dressed up as the boy wizard for World Book Day this year.
Out of all of my kids, A is probably the biggest fan. She has read the books more times than I can count and was beside herself with excitement when I told her that we had been offered the opportunity to experience the Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio tour.
The morning of our visit we were up early and set off in good time in anticipation of either getting lost (I am the world's worst navigator) or there being traffic on the M25. To our surprise and delight, not only was it a clear drive all the way there without any traffic issues, it was also so simple to find that even I didn't manage to get us lost (that was more to the Mister's delight than anyone elses, admittedly).
There is a picnic area adjacent to the car park, and halfway round the tour in the Backlot area you can make use of the picnic benches if you choose to bring your own lunch, but you are not permitted to eat or drink anything inside during the tour. In the outdoor area there is also a refreshments stand, and you can even purchase a glass of the famous 'Butterbeer' (one of only two places in the world that sells it). We bought some for the kids which they loved, though it was a bit too sickly for my taste!
The gift shop is a Harry Potter fan's dream come true, teeming with absolutely everything you could think of. Clothing, confectionary, books, costumes, keepsakes, collectibles... They are of course on the pricey side so that's something worth bearing in mind before taking the kids in there! As part of our tour experience we were gifted with four beautifully crafted wands (one each for my bigger kids) and a gorgeous white soft toy Unicorn for E as well as some delicious peppermint chocolate frogs. We purchased some sweets from the gift shop on our way out, & A used some of her birthday money to buy a t-shirt & other little souvenirs.
I was delighted to discover that the public toilets were absolutely pristine. Sensor flushes & taps and an airblade dryer meant that I didn't have to touch anything, it was all clean and tidy, fresh smelling and not at all traumatic for me - bonus.
There was a queue as we waited to go in, but with a tour starting every twelve minutes it was a very short waiting time and we were able to have a look at the 'cupboard under the stairs' as we waited. The beginning of the tour is guided and then you are left to walk through and take a look at everything at your own pace (or you can opt to be 'digitally guided' around with the aid of a handheld audio-visual guide which is available to hire).
The children were keen to collect the stamps for their activity passports and we took our time and visited all of the sets, and checked out the props and costumes and all of the wonderful things, that are created with such intricate detail, that make the movies as special as they are, & really bring J K Rowling's books to life.
The kids were rushing back and forth between everything trying to take it all in, they were so excited to be there. We have tons of photos and the kids were delighted to be able to stand on the Knightbus and to sit in the flying car, and have a go at sitting on the motorbike & sidecar.
Probably the best part of the tour for me was watching the kids faces, they loved learning all of the secrets of the movies and getting to see the props, including the Philosopher's stone and the golden snitch. They took it in turns knocking at the door of number 4, Privet Drive and taking a walk on the Hogwarts Bridge, and we strolled down Diagon Alley looking at the beautifully crafted shop fronts. It really is a wonderland for any Harry Potter fan, and still pretty amazing if you've not become acquainted with the phenomenon yet!
Throughout the year the studio holds seasonal events, and right now is 'Summer Spells' which runs from July 26th-September 2nd and includes wand choreography lessons. From September 6th-26th you will be able to experience 'Back to School' at Hogwarts!
The staff throughout the tour are friendly, polite and helpful, and A was able to speak to the chap who was giving a talk about the costume design and he revealed he was one of the Death Eaters in the movies!
We queued up & the kids got to have a go in the green screen area, taking a ride on the broomsticks and flying in the enchanted car. I purchased three photographs of this experience for £21 & they will make great keepsakes of our day out. It's worth remembering not to wear green if you plan on having a go at this! E was most disappointed to discover that she'd missed out on it as she had fallen asleep, bless her! She had been dying to see the flying car!
We had a really enjoyable day out and it is certainly somewhere that I would readily visit again, and would also recommend to others. In our opinion, it's a must-visit for any Harry Potter fan.
We received complimentary tickets for the Making of Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour for review purposes. The views shared are my own personal & honest opinions and written in my own words.
I have linked this post with #MagicMoments at The Oliver's Madhouse.