If you thought the magic was over, you were wrong: from the end of March 2012, the Warner Bros. behind-the-scenes tour invites visitors see first-hand some of the most memorable sets from the beloved eight-film series. Not only is it a chance to explore the world of Harry Potter, but it's a journey into the best of British film-making, featuring sets and props, breath-taking makeup and costumes, and ground-breaking animatronics and special effects.
Featured scenes from the school of wizardry and beyond include the cupboard under the stairs, 4 Privet Drive, the Great Hall, Dumbledore’s office and the Weasley kitchen. And, at the end of the tour, Hogwarts castle itself will be there in all its glory in the shape of the model that was used throughout filming. It's been calculated that this amazing structure took an astonishing 74 years of man-power to create, and in order for visitors to experience its full beauty, the display lighting will pass through a full day-to-night cycle every four minutes.
Most of the actors were little more than children when filming started on Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone over ten years ago and, according to Daniel Radcliffe, the studio was “a magical place to grow up.” Now the public have the chance to immerse themselves in the world of Harry and his friends – and enemies – in a studio walking tour spread over an area of around 15,000 square metres.
Within the iconic Great Hall, visitors will walk on the actual York stone floor laid over 11 years ago and marvel at the solid oak and pine house tables which were built especially for the films and then aged using axes and chains. Over the years, the actors playing Hogwarts pupils have added their own graffiti, although this probably wasn't what Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley in the films, was referring to when he enthused, "The sets all have tiny little details that you may not always notice in the films." He adds that, "When you actually walk through them, you can see all the work that's gone into it. It’s really amazing.”
Another of the major sets that will be on display is Dumbledore's office, where visitors will see the authentic Sword of Gryffindor, the Sorting Hat and Hogwarts headmaster portraits adorning the walls. As well as visiting the Weasley family kitchen, which showcases the incredible craftsmanship of special-effect props including Molly Weasley’s self-washing frying pan, automated knitting needles and chopping boards, fans can celebrate Hogwarts’ own giant, Hagrid the groundskeeper, by visiting the real Hagrid’s hut and viewing his incredible motorcycle.
There will be explanations of the magic of green-screen technology, the technique that made it possible to bring the fantasy game of Quidditch to life on screen. On the same theme, there will be a display including Harry's Nimbus 2000, Draco Malfoy’s Nimbus 2001 and Harry’s special gift from godfather Sirius Black, the Firebolt.
Videos featuring cast and crew will reveal other secrets behind the film-making process and visitors will discover the secrets of how Hagrid's larger-than-life character was created on screen. Animatronics and make-up designs will be on display in the Creature Effects workshop where creatures featured will include some of the best-loved and some of the most horrific, from Buckbeak the hippogriff and Fawkes the phoenix, to Aragog the giant spider and the Basilisk.
The Gryffindor common room is one of the films’ oldest sets and remains one of the most loved by fans. This iconic set will feature alongside the Gryffindor boys’ dormitory which includes the original beds for Harry, Ron, Seamus, Neville and Dean for the first film. Over the course of filming, as the cast grew from young boys to teenagers, filmmakers had to find clever camera angles to hide the fact that the cast had clearly outgrown the beds.
Note that tickets must be pre-booked via the tour website or through approved tour operators.
Warner Bros Studio Tour