Our trip to Hogwarts during our visit to London was nothing short of magical! Well, it wasn’t exactly Hogwarts, it was the Warner Bros Studio, where all the films were created. Located in Leavesden, about an hour outside the city, this attraction is an absolute must if you’re a Harry Potter fan.
We’ve been re-watching all movies since we got home, which has been so much fun. There are so many incredible details to rediscover, and Halloween is the perfect time to have a Harry Potter marathon! Today I’m sharing all my favourites sets, scenes, props, and a little behind the scenes magic from our visit to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.Welcome to Harry Potter World
From the moment you arrive at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, you’re in Harry Potter’s world. After viewing a film about the making of the movie (which was a great reminder of so many incredible scenes) two large doors open into the Great Hall. It was amazing to be standing on the set that was the backdrop to so many iconic scenes in the Harry Potter series.
The Great Hall was first built for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. Throughout the space are the costumes of students from each Hogwarts house, along with two large tables all set for dinner. My favourite part was up front at the teachers’ table, where the Hogwarts Professors sat. The Great Hall is home to some of the beautiful hand crafted props created for the Harry Potter film series including Professor Dumbledore’s lectern and the House Points Counter.
Platform 9 3/4
Most of the scenes that take place on Platform 9¾ were actually shot on location at King’s Cross Station in London. The Hogwarts Express provided the background for the very first shot ever captured for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and then, ten years later, for the very last shot of the entire series in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2. For the last instalment, part of the station platform was recreated on a soundstage at Leavesden, complete with the track and the train.
Another iconic set from the movies is Dumbledore’s office. It is filled with many props, like the
900 memory vials with labels. Each label was hand-designed by the Graphics Department before being sent to the Props team who would put the label into place on each vial. Some of the memories seen in the cabinet feature familiar character names such as Argus Filch and Professor McGonagall.Snape’s Potion Room
My favourite set was Snape’s Potions class room. The attention to detail was incredible. Self stirring cauldrons were on each table, along with beautiful potion text books and ingredients. There are over 950 potion jars lining the walls of the classroom, each filled with something with unique. We were all ready to take a class in potion making!
I think some of my favourite scenes in the Harry Potter series are the ones in Diagon Alley.The original design of the street combined the details from the Harry Potter books along with inspiration from the streets described in the works of Charles Dickens.
The Diagon Alley set was constantly changing throughout the film series. Since its construction, walls shifted, shop fronts moved and entire buildings were carefully tweaked to create the street that are seen in the films. Many of the Diagon Alley set pieces were also re-dressed for use in the village of Hogsmeade for Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Gringotts Bank, Flourish and Blotts, Mr Mulpepper’s Apothecary and of course, Ollivanders wand shop are all located in Diagon Alley. There are over 17,000 individually labelled wand boxes on display, each with the name of a crew member who worked on the films.
The Chamber of Secrets
The Chamber of Secrets door is a fully operational door with snakes slithering along slotted tracks, powered by an electric motor hidden behind the door.
One of the coolest facts I learnt on the tour was about Dolores Umbridge’s outfits. It was all about ‘Shades of Pink.’ Throughout the films, as Dolores becomes more powerful, her wardrobe slowly becomes deeper shades of pink, revealing her true, evil character. She starts off by wearing soft pastels, and by the end she’s in dark fuchsia tones. Her office was also filled with so many cool props, like her plate collection with cats that all moved in the movie.The Sets
Before the actual set construction began, the Art Department would create a white card model of the set/location. These models helped the director and production designer figure out the size and scale of each set to determine camera angles. To plan shots and camera movement filmmakers inserted a tiny camera called a lipstick camera into the model to get a perfect point of view. Many of these pre-sets were on display which was really cool to see in person.
The most exciting moment was seeing the iconic Hogwarts Castle in real life. The model is a lot smaller than you would imagine! Look for the people in the background of these photos as a reference.
This was built for the first movie, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. A team of 86 artists and crew members built the first version of Hogwarts castle. Every courtyard, tower and turret were filmed and enhanced with digital effects to create realistic views of the magical school. Footage of this meticulously built model was combined with digital effects to create unforgettably views of the exterior of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
I couldn’t recommend visiting the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London enough! It was such a such a treat to see all the props, sets and details up close.
Have you ever been before? What’s your favourite Harry Potter movie?
Let me know in the comments below!