Last week I had the best evening at the “Hogwarts in the Snow” event hosted by the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London. This was my second visit to the Harry Potter studio tour, my first was back in 2012 (!), and I couldn’t have been more excited!
As soon as I arrived, I was handed a goodie bag with my name on it. From then on, I pretty much knew that this was going to be the best night of my life 😂 There was a short reception before the tour where we were treated to mulled wine and canapés. We were able to mingle with the other guests and I finally met Ziba (@ziba.reads on Instagram), who is basically my Instagram idol.
Then the tour began!
Read my original, more detailed, review of the tour here.
First you’re led into a dark room where you can watch clips from the cast and crew of the film speaking about how the Harry Potter films came to be. Then you go through to a large cinema room where you watch a super short film that goes through the crucial bits of all eight Harry Potter films. (This is usually the bit where I cry. Yes, already.) At the end of the film, the doors to the Great Hall open and the tour really begins.
The Great Hall really is magnificent. All the more so at Christmas. The hall has been decorated with Christmas trees and there is, of course, a Christmas feast. This is one of the most impressive rooms on the tour and one of my favourites since the Great Hall is based off the dining hall at Christ Church, Oxford, where I study. There isn’t a magical ceiling unfortunately but there are moving Christmas tree decorations.
After this, you enter a very large room that is full of various, smaller Harry Potter exhibits. There are props, costumes and sets. You really do learn everything about how the Harry Potter films were made. You’ll see everything from the Triwizard cup to the all the different quidditch balls and broomsticks. The Gryffindor Common Room and Boy’s Dormitory have both been decorated for Christmas, which makes them that little bit more special and festive. My original review of the Tour contains much more detailed information about what there is to see, but I will focus on what has changed since then in this post. You can read the original review here.
It’s been four years since my first visit to the Tour and lots of new features and activities have been added. The most notable of all of these is, of course, The Hogwarts Express. They’ve recreated Platform 9 3/4 so you can see The Hogwarts Express in all its glory on the train track and even have a little walk through it! There are also lots of different photos points of the trolley going through the wall to access Platform 9 3/4 so you can pretend like you’re off to Hogwarts yourself. There’s a new activity here as well as they’ve recreated the interior of the Hogwarts Express so that you can sit in it and see and feel what Harry, Ron and Hermione would have on their journey to Hogwarts. You sit in one of the carriages and see the world float by outside the window – it’s lovely until the dementors show up! This is all filmed and there is a voice-over telling you what to do to make this part all the more fun.
Another hugely impressive part of the tour is Diagon Alley. There’s not a huge amount of snow to be seen here but they do have a little path with footprints that appear and disappear in the snow. This actually does look quite like magic and you can imagine Harry walking through the alley with his invisibility cloak on. All the shops here have been decorated to look like real shops with real displays. This is one of the only parts of the Tour where you actually feel like you are standing in the wizarding world as it’s so large, with so many shops.
Along the way there’s the chance to try the infamous Butterbeer, which surprisingly tastes really nice. It’s a sweet, fizzy drink with a layer of cream on top – sounds disgusting, but it’s actually really nice! We were treated to a free taster of this before moving onto the outside part of the tour.
Outside, you’ll find the Knight Bus, Privet Drive, Hogwarts Bridge, the Ford Anglia, the giant chess pieces and more. There’s a wonderful snow machine out here that pumps out artificial snowflakes at regular intervals so you feel like you’re actually in the depths of the winter! It’s amazing how a little snow can make everything seem that little bit more special and magical. When we were outside, I met Charlotte from @what.i.read who actually recognised me! It’s a very strange moment for a blogger to be recognised, especially when I spend most of my time hiding behind my books.
Of course, they save the best til last and there’s nothing quite like rounding the corner to seeing the magnificent Hogwarts castle. This model is actually huge and the picture below really doesn’t do it justice. They also play the Harry Potter theme music in this room, which always makes me tear up! It’s amazing how large and detailed this model is and I can’t imagine how long it took to make. This model was used to film the outside of Hogwarts, so this is what you are actually seeing in the films, not a real castle! Of course, this part has also been covered in a dash of snow, which is lovely. There’s even a little stall showing you all the different types of artificial snow that would’ve been used and how it is made.
I also made a little visit to the Gift Shop at the end where I bought a chocolate frog, a 9 3/4 lollipop and a ticket for the Hogwarts express! This was on top of the Gryffindor scarf, Tom Riddle’s diary, Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Bean and Time Turner, generally gifted to me by the Studio Tour. Photos of all of these can be found on my Instagram page soon! Check it out @whatshotblog.
All in all, I had the BEST time at the Studio Tour and I’m so glad I got to see Hogwarts in the Snow! If you’ve never been to the Studio before then now is the perfect time to visit and will get you in the Christmas spirit! There really is no other phenomenon quite like Harry Potter and the Studio Tour makes you realise and appreciate just how much time and effort has gone into every single, tiny detail of these films. There are many parts of the Tour that I haven’t even been able to mention in this post otherwise it would be go on forever! I don’t know a single person who hasn’t been absolutely blown away by the Studio Tour as it’s an incredible exhibition. The exhibition will be covered in snow until the 29th January 2017 so there’s plenty of time for you to book tickets and get down there!
Find out more on the Warner Bros Studio Tour website below:
Obviously as a book blogger and Potterhead this was the ultimate blogger event for me and I’m so grateful to everyone at WB Tour London who made the night special! Thank you all for this magical evening.
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*I was invited by WB Tour London to attend this event but all opinions are my own.