Picture Heavy Post: Harry Potter World, Part 1 @wbstudiotour #HarryPotterWorld #HarryPotter @starbucks

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The entrance to the Harry Potter World studio tour.

My wife and I were given two tickets for Harry Potter World here in the UK. While it was difficult to get a booking, we were lucky two weekends ago that there was a cancellation and we were able to go on Saturday at 4pm.

It’s an impressive tour – containing a lot of the sets, costumes, and props from the movies, and outdoor as well as indoor attractions. It requires taking the train to Watford, and then from there you have to get a special bus, an additional £2 per person.

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The special double-decker bus to Harry Potter World.

It’s a short ride from Watford to the studio. The bus driver was careful to be counting the number of potential passengers, so even though the bus was entirely full, everyone got a seat and no one had to stand.

On entering the studio, you find yourself in what is essentially a giant room. To the left is a Starbucks and a dining cafeteria. To the right is the gift shop. To the front is the queue where you wait to go in. Since you can’t queue until half an hour before you’re scheduled to take the tour, there’s no point in trying to get on it because they won’t let you. It gives you time to shop and/or eat, though I advise against drinking too much before you start the tour. While there are facilities as you go through, you’re not really going to want to spend too much time away from the tour as there’s so much to see and do.

We started in the gift shop – one of the larger ones I’ve ever seen, and seemingly (for Warner Brothers at least) with good reason. You can buy just about anything in there! They have the various items from the movies (such as the different candies) to replicas of props, to stuffed animals, books, and an assortment of other goods. In our case, since we got there just before Chinese New Year, they had the gift shop decorated appropriately.

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The gift shop complete with Chinese paper lanterns.

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JK Rowling’s books for sale.

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Peppermint Toads for sale.

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The golden snitch!

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Floating candles (not for sale).

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A slightly blurry look at the throngs of people in the gift shop.

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A better overall view of the gift shop.

Even given its size, the gift shop was still quite crowded. However, everyone there was more than polite, and it seemed that everyone understood that we were all there to ‘share in the magic’ so no one was hostile or rude.

After the gift shop, we went to the dining area and ate some food. (We skipped Starbucks only because they don’t let you take food or drinks on the tour, and as I mentioned I didn’t want to have to spend time worrying about facilities on the tour.) The choices in the dining area, while slightly on the pricey side, were pretty good, and I enjoyed my spicy chicken wrap, and my wife enjoyed her fish sandwich.

After that, it was time to queue!

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A look at the queue. While it’s fairly large, it moves at a reasonable pace.

Queueing in the large auditorium area gives you time to snap photos of the pictures and props around you.

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Some of the cast pictures on the wall above the queueing area.

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Flying car anyone? The left blinker was on the whole time!

The tour officially starts while you’re queueing, as they take you past the Cupboard Under the Stairs, which is of course where Harry starts his adventure.

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The Cupboard Under the Stairs.

After that, you’re brought into an audio-video room and a tour guide gives you a brief introduction before showing you some clips of the production team talking about various things. After that, you’re brought into an auditorium where another brief introduction from a different tour guide leads into a movie featuring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint discussing their experiences in the almost ten years they spent at the studio in which you’re now taking part in the tour.

Once the movie ends, you are then taken into the “Entrance to Hogwarts”, and into the Great Hall.

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The Great Hall.

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The tour guide, and one of the dining tables.

The tour guide continued to give information at this point, but I found that she was telling me things that I already knew and some things that were very obvious based on how they were set up. It was not a surprise to find that the magical ceiling was added by computer effects, and the various costumes were made very obvious both by how they were arranged and the fake hair that went with them. At that point the wife and I took our leave and started to explore on our own.

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Even had it not been terribly obvious who was who, there were signs.

After the Great Hall, you start to wind your way through various exhibits. These include Dumbledore’s Office, Hagrid’s Hut, The Weasley Home, an area explaining the green screen effects of the movie, and the Ministry of Magic, and that’s before you get outside! The tour takes about three hours, and even exploring on our own it took about that long. There is just so much to see! I think I will end up with four posts on the subject, so watch out for posts two, three, and four to come!

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