Since the bespectacled and pint-sized Harry Potter burst onto cinema screens over 10 years ago, the varied cast of heroes and villains have quickly become part of British legend, working their way into the hearts and minds of children and adults all over the world. The franchise, worth a gob-smacking $7 billion, culminated last year with the 8th film, but thankfully for fans the magical journey is not quite over yet. In fact, with Warner Bros. set to open their long-awaited ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ studio tour this year in London, they’ll be plenty for Hogwarts fans to gorge on.
Participants will gain never-before-seen access to the mystical world of the boy wizard, walking through the original movie sets, marveling at the dizzying array of props and uncovering the secrets of Hogwarts that have captivated audiences for so long.
The 150,000 square foot area, home to around 3,000 cast and crew-members during filming, has been transformed into a spectacular attraction costing some £100 million to complete. Amongst the highlights of the tour are the Great Hall, the cobbled streets of Diagon Alley, Dumbledore’s office and Hagrid’s hut. Fans will recognize a host of other gems like the Gryffindor common room, the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, Gringott’s Wizarding Bank and the Eeylop’s Owl Emporium. You can even take a peek into Professor Snape’s potions class and Ollivander’s wand shop.
The tour starts at the entrance to the Great Hall where Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint pop up to introduce the tour on a mini cinema screen alongside behind-the-scenes footage and insider commentary, before disappearing into the air to reveal the magnificent Great Hall doors.
There’s plenty of special effects trickery unveiled on the tour too, and fans can learn how characters like Dobby, Buckbeak the Hippogriff and Aragog the giant spider were brought to life on screen and take part in an animatronics workshop. The model of Hogwarts is everyone’s favorite set, the handiwork of 86 people laboring over six months, as is the extensive costume collection featuring togs from the likes of Professors Dumbledore, Snape, McGonagall, Hagrid, Trelawney and Flitwick, amongst many others. Diehard fans can dig up some extra information in the Graphic Design department, as well as plenty of entertaining trivia from the guides who have been trained with an encyclopedic knowledge of Harry Potter facts and figures. There’s opportunity for interaction too – a chance to take a ‘ride’ on a broomstick superimposed onto Potter-themed footage (and, yes, you can purchase photos) or a scene-editing activity where you can piece together your own short scene.
If you’re still gagging for more wizardry, grab yourself a well-earned cup of delicious butter-beer (butterscotch cream soda topped with marshmallow) and head to the extensive gift shop to pick up a motion-activated Gryffindor sword, a set of Dumbledore’s robes, or a Nimbus 2001 broom – just remember your credit card, as magic doesn’t come cheap.