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Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studios Tour London: The Making- Introduction and Gift Shop

The Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter is a movie set theme park situated in south west Hertfordshire approximately 30km northwest of central London, in Leavesden. All the movies in the Harry Potter series were shot here from The Philosopher’s Stone in 2001 to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 in 2011.

The studio tour has the capacity to handle about 5000 visitors daily, thus all tickets have to be pre-booked on their official website beforehand online given the limited space available in the studio itself. The studios do not entertain walk-in purchase of entrance tickets. Bookings can only be done direct on their official website. The system will regularly release tickets at set intervals throughout the day. In general, you can only book tickets about one to two weeks advance, so last minute bookings are nearly impossible unless the system were to release the remainder tickets for the following day.

Here we are!
Platform 9.75 is a hot thing in KGX today!
The shuttle bus from Walford Junction

Walford junction is the nearest train station to the attraction, which is served from London’s Euston station and a short walk away from Kings Cross station if you are doing a transfer, otherwise all connecting train stations are just an underground ride away. Notably King’s cross station itself is doing their part in promoting the attraction with the newly relocated Platform 9 and three quarters (it’s not at the old position in the film) with queue lines and facilitators at the mock-up. At Walford junction, a dedicated wheelchair-accessible shuttle bus service operated by Mullany’s Coaches plies the route between the station and the attraction itself, you will recognize it as the black double decker buses, which would be alot cooler if it were purple like the knight Bus. The shuttle is a 20 minute ride costing £2 for a return and £1.50 for a single trip. Most people will op for a return trip. It will generally be advised to arrive at Walford junction about 30 minutes in advance to your ticket start time.

from pre-printed booking sheet
You can do a self checkin
tickets GET!

The sight of the large hangar-sized studio blocks is your first sign of nearing the attraction. If you drive, a marshal will direct you to the parking lots upon showing your online pre-booked slips. The front of the attraction is lined with several ticketing booths and self-serve service counters for self-checking in of pre-printed ticket slips you bought online. Your actual attraction entrance tickets used to grant you entry to the attraction itself will be printed here upon validation of your pre-booked slips. Kids will be given a Hogwarts Passport, which can be stamped using a number of “stamp posts” littered through the attraction.

we have Emma and Rupert too!
Adult Radcliffe is kinda um, small!
The WB HP main lobby

Past the main doors of the attraction, you will see casted concrete hand imprints of Daniel Radcliffe Emma and Rupert as adults on the attraction opening, allowing you some of comparison in size-differences. Notably Radcliffee does look pretty much on the small side. Going through the attraction double doors will bring you to the central lobby itself. The front lobby itself is lined with portraits of the various cast members, on-set and off, complete with flying props including a flying Ford Anglia. Since it’s opening, the studio itself has won some numerous award, such as the 2013 Telly Award for Editing, 2013 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence, The 2013 UK-inbound Award for Individual Attraction of the Year.

Audio-visual guide
The attraction gift shop and café/restaurant is located here too. This is one of the few attractions where I would strongly recommend an audio visual guide to go with your tour (given limited information you can get from the exhibits itself). The guide is after all, not your typical dinky audio-only guide- it not only functions as an audio guide, but show additional multimedia content such as videos, interviews photos and special galleries in supplementary to the attraction information, telling you more in depth the various exhibits with photo-gallery, video interviews and cinematics to boot.

an iPod touch!
what to expect on the Interactive map
digital background info

The audio guide is essentially a hand held iPod touch running the attraction app and also functions as an attraction digital map. My only gripe with the audio guide is that it suffers from relatively poor battery life and surprisingly it won’t last longer than 4 hours (started to give me repeated battery prompts) at the attraction itself. The biggest single drain to the battery will be of course the multimedia elements such as videos. The use of the multimedia guide here won the attraction the 2012 Event Technology Silver Award for Best Use of Handheld Technology. It might be good to have audio guide exchange points along the tour, surprisingly the hard case which encases the device does not serve as an extended battery at all (it was not charging once unplugged from the counter be stations) and just merely serves to protect the device.

When purchasing your tickets online, you have a choice of a standard attraction ticket, one with the audio guide or souvenir guidebook included. The attraction main lobby is where to where you get to draw out your audio guide, with extra souvenir items collected at the attraction gift shop.

Attraction giftshop
With its entrance next to the main entrance, the giftshop is a nicely themed attraction by itself, taking nuances from several areas in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry itself. Taking center stage is a partial mock-up of the Hogwarts Great Hall, completely decked up with lit suspended candles adding a rather nice touch to the ambience as a whole.

But first a giftshop visit!
nicely themed
Quidditch anyone?

The giftshop itself is an excellent place to kill some time if you were to arrive at the attraction early or simply just want to appreciate possibly the largest single assortment of harry potter merchandise you can find in the world. Have a souvenir guidebook to be redeemed? Simply just present your ticket coupon (the tickets similarly dispensed for the attraction’s main entry ticket) to any of the available check-out counters and the staff will gladly wrap one out for you. The gift shop has several themed sections, notably one after the Hogwarts library, a Quidditch match arena (complete with a collection of Hogwarts houses themed merchandise to your liking) and one the Great Hall, with a variety of tall stained glass windows to boot.

wands of all types here!
wonder where I get posted to?
eccentric neato!

If you are a Harry Potter wand collector, the shop is also home to one of the largest collection of packed winds you can find from simply almost every major character in the movie series. While most of the merchandise are simply priced to rip off, the pricing of the wizard wands here are reasonably priced given the rarity of some of the wands here. The library themed area of the shop houses volumes of the Harry Potter trilogy sets, if you are so inclined to own every single book written in the series, including a few extras. Littered throughout the shop area is variety of stuffed animal toys including a stuffed Hades and puppet Hegwigs!

honeydukes and frogs!
& of course nomables!
stained glassy

No wizard gift shop is of course complete without an assortment of “disgusting” wizard food treats such as frogs bits, whizzbess and worm snacks, a decent collection nonetheless, though I was not able to find earwax candy. The store itself is nice place to hang out if you have time to kill after your studio tour visit or when you are early for your entrance time slot. No wonder it was the winner of the 2012 UK Customer Experience Award for Best Leisure & Retail Experience.

» Next up, The Great Hall, Hogwarts Gryffindor Sets and Props


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