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Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studios Tour- Backlot, Butter beer, Creature Lab and Hogwarts Castle

Backlot outdoor display
Exiting the first studio hall will bring you to an intermediately outdoor open space between two studios housing number of large, mostly vehicular and weather-resistant structural exhibits used on the movies which are simply too large to be situated indoors. It’s also the only part of the tour which is viewable on Google Maps (with the exception of Diagon Alley). A cafe and break area reside in this open area too, which is semi-sheltered.

the knight bus
all board!
Hagrid flying bike

Iconic displays here include the triple-decker Knight Bus, complete with its cozy interior and shrunken head on the driver’s compartment. This Knight Bus as the story says, was first commissioned in 1865 as a method for underage or infirm wizards to transport themselves discreetly. The bus here is one of the three ones built for specific roles the movie, two being a display sets for filming, and one made without any interior specifically for stunt driving. Each bus is made out of three separate classical route master buses (RT-class AEC Regent III buses) all welded together Frankenstein-style with a modern base chassis and engine. All these displays are static props with their engines removed, so don’t expect any riding or even flying around in these vehicles in the near too distant future.

and the flying Ford Anglia
where it all started...
it messes with your eyes looking at it.

Other notable outdoor displays include Hagrid’s flying bike, the Ford Anglia and the not-so-straight Hogwarts bridge. The bridge seems to play tricks on your eyes whenever you look at it straight given it’s contorted shape. Only a part of the actual Wooden bridge was actually built, with this part used for the physical filming with the actors, particularly when the Bridge was collapsing with the magic of CG in the Battle of Hogwarts. A complete set of Privet drive sits in this backlot area too, seemingly look like it had been plucked right out of your typical British housing neighborhood.

one of the 2 places globally besides florida
which is non-alcoholic & children friendly too!

Butter Beer
The UK studio is also the second location in the world which serves authentic Butter beer right here on-set (with the first being the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in the Islands of Adventure Orlando). The drink itself is non-alcoholic, completely kid-friendly and served right from the barrel. You have three choices of cups, with the most expensive option granting you the drink with a plastic beer mug for keeps. There is even a tankard wash area just for that purpose. The beer itself tastes like a variant of root beer, with bit more of the “buttery” taste in it. Not something I would drink everyday!

there are many of these around the studio
back indoors!
overview of the creature lab

Leaving the backlot area will bring you to the next indoor studios, with its exterior lined with a variety of Chess pieces used in the Philosopher’s Stone movie in the Wizards chess scene. The movie magic continuous here with the world animatronics, in the Creature Lab which awaits.

Creature lab
Creature lab houses a variety of animatronics models, static props and robotics (including remote-controlled ones). You can find a motorized Hegwig, Werewolf, the Monster Book of Monsters (The biting book) on display here, as well as a number of wax figures of the various actors you can see in your typical Madame Tussauds. Shelves of resin-casted face masks and makeup sets are left as it is in a production set. The fusion of mechanical parts to actors is elaborated here too in this workshop cum display set through a number of interactive TV screens.

costuming work desks
the head of the table
robotic Hedwig!

The creature lab animatronics tour carries on to larger animatronic models, such as the Buckbeak the Hippogriff and Giant spiders.


Diagon Alley
One of the really immersive sets in the attraction will have to be Diagon Alley film set. It is a cobbled wizarding alley and shopping area located in London, England behind the Leaky Cauldron pub. Iconic stores here include the Gringotts Wizarding Bank, Scribbulus Writing Implements, Sugarplum’s Sweets Shop. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes at 93 Diagon Alley (a joke shop owned by Fred and George Weasley selling practical joke objects) with its Puking Pastilles display.

Diagon alley!
so much to shop around heree..

Other shops here will include the Wand shop where Harry got to try out his first wand, and Eeylops Owl Emporium (Hegwig), Ice-cream and robes shops as well as miscellaneous shops selling telescopes and strange silver instruments just to name a few. You can’t actually enter the shops, but you will be able to get a feel of how Harry’s first shopping spree is close to be like in this hot-set. Notably, Diagon Alley is available to explore virtually on Google Maps Street View.

a wand shop?
See the twins?
Owl's for sale

Concept studios
Following Diagon Alley will be the production and concept studios. This area is essential the “working” workstation areas of the film set involved in the preliminary conceptual artwork, storyboarding, planning and layout of the various sets used in the film. On display here are a variety of 2D work, including a combination of hand-drawn concept paper sketches as well as digital tablet work drawn by production artists. The wall surfaces here are decked with annotations, storyboards, artworks and talking commentary of the processes at this stage of production.

Covered here are concept sketches
Musings of the drawing board
Oh sketchy!

3D work here includes a number of hand-crafted paper models used for set planning. These model sets here are primarily crafted intricately out of paper for feasibility, storyboarding, actor and camera movement before the actual sets are being built. Model highlights here include a number of Hogwart class interiors, the model of the Burrow as well as a clay model of Hogwarts castle.

Dumbledore's office plans
House layouts
Mini hogwarts paper scale models

Hogwarts Castle
The studio tour ends with finale many would describe as the highlight of the tour. A full 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts Castle greets you after the production displays. The castle model itself spans over two floors starting off from a balcony vantage view of the castle, where you can make your way encircling the castle down to the lower ground level. The castle looks simply stunning whichever way you look at it, with several photo opportunities from both the vantage viewing point and lower ground levels.

The hogwarts castle!
Used for scale camera fly through
The moat and bottom

There is no one good side to the castle, with new sights and detail at every angle. The castle was after all, created to wow with the sole intention to facilitate several flying panning shots and castle fly-bys as seen in the film. The overhead lighting here rotates through several moods of lighting ranging from a daytime simulation and an eerie purplish blue emphasizing the various miniature lightning details which can be seen on the windows and lamps littered throughout the castle.

interactive info screens
Attention to needed details
one for each production member in all the shows

The attraction exit ends with a “credits roll” or sort through a wand storage, similar to the wand shop scene in Diagon Alley. Boxes of stacked wands line the walls completely, each with a distinctive name for every production member involved in every one of the single movies. Crew members stationed here will at times provide trivial and questions to visitors. One could of course not resist the urge to find JK Rowling’s wand (which shouldn’t be too difficult to find noting how worn out the box is). Leaving this area will bring you right back out into the attraction’s main lobby, where you might want to fancy a bite or two at the lobby cafeteria before your ride home.

That concludes the walking tour of The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter. The attraction however, does have a questionable revisit value which could hold for the run of the franchise from the final movie for a couple of years before it starts to get old. Well, unless the park has plans for further expansion down the road, only time will tell.

trival fact discussions with staff
ending words from JK
that's all folks!

Overall the attraction itself was impressive and an eye opener in its way and have my recommendation. The attraction itself is more info-tainment than it is theme park (given the distinct lack of rides) and very family friendly, appealing to all ages at heart and bonuses of course to Harry Potter fans. This achievement is of course reflected in the several awards the attraction has bagged to date, including the 2012 Group Leisure Award for Best UK Attraction and named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Entertainment Design Projects of 2012.

That’s all folks and take care!

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