Features Joseph Walsh

Special Feature: The Making of ‘Harry Potter’

The mega-grossing film franchise may be over (disappointingly without an Oscar to its name), but the world of Harry Potter lives on in the soon-to-open Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. Warner Bros’ Levison Studios in Watford are opening their doors to the general public, displaying many of the key sets featured in the massively successful Potter series, including the Gryffindor common room, Snape’s potions classroom, Diagon Alley and many more.

The Studio Tour’s aim is not only to allow wannabe witches and wizards access to the magical world of Potter, but to also celebrate the hard work put in by thousands involved in the blockbusting film franchise. This is by no means just an ode to the three lead figures, but to all involved – the special effects artists, prop makers, animal handlers, crew members and even the on-set chef are all featured. As the tagline of the tour states: ‘Secrets will be revealed’.

Visitors will get the chance to ride a broomstick and be filmed flying over the Thames or Hogwart’s Castle, or have their photo taken to look like one of the numerous magical portraits that adorn the walls of the school. Perhaps you’d prefer to quaff a butter beer whilst walking around Privet Drive or Godric’s Hollow while examining the Knight Bus. Arguably more enjoyable for those not so in touch with their inner child are the numerous rooms focusing upon the making of the series’ special effects, all displayed with impressive no-expense-spared graphical presentation.

The Studio Tour is undeniably extremely impressive, but there are a few concerns that should be raised. Firstly the prices; at £83 for a family ticket, £21 for child and £28 for adults, it’s by no means cheap even by London standards, especially when you take into account travelling there (20 minutes by train from Euston) and the obligatory trip to the pricey gift shop. In a discussion with fellow visitors, we calculated that a round trip for an average family would leave you with little change from £250.

A high price indeed, yet when you consider that people travelled from the US to be at the film’s UK premieres simply for a glimpse of stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emily Watson, there will definitely be those willing to pay through the nose for a chance to embrace the movie magic. Is it worth it? If you’re an avid fan of the books and films, it probably is, if just for the opportunity to see where the franchise’s crew worked for 10 whole years.

Cynics may may see the Harry Potter Studio Tour as little more than a lucrative cash cow, and there are of course concerns relating to the longevity of the attraction. However, this attraction is the first of its kind in the UK, and for many the draw of Potter may be irresistible. Our advice – find your inner child and enjoy the experience – just try not to think about the money.

For more info on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter and to book online, visit wbstudiotour.co.uk.

Joe Walsh