Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter is a walkthrough exhibition and studio tour in Leavesden, southeast England, owned by Warner Bros. and operated by their Studio Tours division. It is located within Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden, near Watford, in southwest Hertfordshire, and houses a permanent exhibit of authentic costumes, props and sets utilized in the production of the Harry Potter films, as well as behind-the-scenes production of visual effects. The tour is contained in Soundstages J and K, which were specially built for the attraction, and is separate from the studio's actual production facilities.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
The Making of Harry Potter
Harry Potter Leavesden entrance.jpg
Entrance to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter at Soundstage J
Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden
AreaSoundstage J
Soundstage K
Coordinates51°41′25″N 0°25′05″W / 51.69040°N 0.41805°W / 51.69040; -0.41805
StatusOperating
Opening datePublic opening
31 March 2012
Royal opening
26 April 2013
General statistics
Attraction typeWalkthrough exhibition and studio tour
DesignerThinkwell Group
ModelFilm studio soundstage
ThemeHarry Potter films
MusicCompositions for the Harry Potter films
Site area14,000 m2 (150,000 sq ft)
Duration~3 hours and 30 minutes (self-guided)
OperatorWarner Bros. Studio Tours
OwnerWarner Bros.
Disabled access Wheelchair accessible
Assistive listening icon.svg Assistive listening available
Closed captioning available

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London opened to the public in 2012 and has since welcomed up to 6,000 visitors a day during peak times. TripAdvisor reported that Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter has been the highest-rated attraction worldwide every year since the tour opened.[1]

HistoryEdit

Leavesden Aerodrome was a British airfield created in 1940 by the de Havilland Aircraft Company & the Air Ministry in the tiny village of Leavesden, between Watford and Abbots Langley, in Hertfordshire. It was an important centre for aircraft production during World War II. By the end of the war Leavesden Airfield was, by volume, the largest factory in the world.[2]

After the war, the aerodrome was purchased outright by de Havilland, who themselves had a succession of owners in the following decades but ultimately they and the site were acquired by Rolls-Royce. However, by the early 1990s, Britain's manufacturing industry was in decline and Rolls-Royce had sold their interests in the site. Unable to find a new owner, Leavesden Aerodrome was left disused and all but abandoned.[3]

Then in 1994, the production team for the James Bond film GoldenEye discovered the unoccupied Leavesden. The wide, tall and open aircraft hangars were uniquely well suited to conversion into film stages. Eon leased the site for the duration of their shoot and went about gutting the factories, turning them into stages, workshops and offices - in short a working film studio.[4] Leavesden Studios, as the site was rebranded by its owners, quickly became popular after GoldenEye wrapped. A succession of major feature films made use of the site, including the first of the Star Wars prequels, The Phantom Menace, and Tim Burton's Sleepy Hollow.

In the year 2000, Heyday Films leased the site for the Harry Potter films.[5] Over the next ten years all of the Harry Potter films were made there, along with some other notable Warner Bros. productions, with the series eventually becoming the most successful film series in history.[6]

As the eighth and final Harry Potter film was nearing completion, in 2010, Warner Bros. announced their intention to purchase the studio as a permanent European base.[7]

By November, Warner Bros. completed its purchase of Leavesden Studios and announced plans to invest more than £100m into the site they had occupied for over ten years, rebranding it again - this time to Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden.[8][9]

 
Scribbulus shop, Diagon Alley

As part of this redevelopment Warner Bros. also created two entirely new soundstages, J and K, to house a permanent public exhibition called Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, creating 300 new jobs in the local area.[10] Currently the whole attraction is dedicated to the making of Harry Potter and is now home to many of the series' most iconic sets, props and costumes. It was opened to the public in early 2012.

CreationEdit

 
The Great Hall

As early as 2001, after the success of the first film, Warner Bros. were putting plans to build an attraction dedicated to the series in place and so began storing items from the films when they were no longer being used. Finally, in 2010, as the last film was nearing completion, Warner Bros. announced they would be purchasing Leavesden Studios and work on the tour began.

The tour's layout and overall presentation was designed by the Burbank-based Thinkwell Group in close collaboration with Warner Bros, as well as the actual filmmakers, including Production Designer Stuart Craig, Set Dresser Stephenie McMillan, Creature Designer Nick Dudman, Construction Manager Paul Hayes and Special Effects Supervisor John Richardson.[11] It only includes sets, props and costumes that were actually created for or used in the production of the Harry Potter film series. Sets include the Great Hall, Dumbledore's Office, Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, Gryffindor Common Room and Boys' Dormitory, Hagrid's Hut and a 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts Castle (used for exterior shots).

Grand openingEdit

 
The Great Hall, with a section of the Dueling Club stage set up (left), as seen in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter opened to the public on 31 March 2012. The opening event was attended by many of the Harry Potter film series cast and crew members, including Rupert Grint, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, Warwick Davis, David Thewlis, Helen McCrory, George Harris, Nick Moran, Natalia Tena, David Bradley, Alfred Enoch, Harry Melling, producers David Heyman and David Barron and directors David Yates, Alfonso Cuarón and Mike Newell.[12][13] Since 2020, Harry Potter fans have been able to purchase bottled 'Butterbeer' exclusively at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London.[14]

 
The Potter's residence in Godric's Hollow, as seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 1 and Part 2

Royal openingEdit

Over a year since the opening of the tour (and almost twenty years after the complex was converted from aerodrome to film studios) the site was officially opened by the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on 26 April 2013.[15] On their royal visit they were accompanied by the Duke's brother Prince Harry and J. K. Rowling, author of Harry potter, who had been unable to attend the tour's grand opening the year before, amongst other illustrious guests. Several hundred beneficiaries of charities they all support were given exclusive invitations to the Studio Tour on the day of the royal visit. The royal entourage visited both the tour, meeting many of their beneficiaries, as well as the studios, where they saw some of the props and costumes from Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight trilogy, before conducting Leavesden's royal opening.[16][17]

TourEdit

 
Yule Ball ice sculpture prop, as seen in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
 
Dumbledore's Office, as seen in the films from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and forward
 
Model of Gringotts Bank

Each tour session typically lasts three and a half hours,[18] and the tour has the capacity to handle 6,000 visitors daily.[19] Despite Warner Bros. being the studio behind Harry Potter, the tour is not styled as a theme park due to the fact that Warner Bros. sold the license to do so to Universal Studios.[19] Instead, visitors get a chance to see up close the detail and effort that goes into a major feature film at the scale of the Harry Potter series.

Though the standard tour is self guided, allowing visitors to enjoy the tour at their own preferred pace, various guided tours are available at an additional cost. Visitors with some disabilities may find, however, that certain guided tours are available to them at no extra cost if they contact the tour in advance.[20]

Diagon Alley is available to explore virtually on Google Maps Street View.[21]

 
The 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts on display

ExpansionsEdit

Warner Bros. has continued to put on special features for the school holidays, such as Dark Arts[22] and Animal Actors,[23] at no extra cost to visitors. Some installations like the Wand Choreography Interactive and the inside of the No. 4 Privet Drive Exterior set have been so popular that they have remained after their respective features have closed.[24]

Platform 9¾Edit

In January 2015, the attraction's first expansion was announced - a brand new Platform 9¾ section, where visitors are able to board the original carriages behind the Hogwarts Express steam engine used in the films. As with the rest of the attraction, the set was constructed and dressed by the original crew members who worked on the film - including Stuart Craig himself, who designed the new set exclusively for the tour (since these scenes in the films were actually shot on location in Kings Cross). The setup includes the steam locomotive used in the films GWR 4900 Hall class no 5972 Olton Hall (wearing Hogwarts Castle nameplates) and the British Rail Mark 1 carriage that appeared in the films, brought to life by John Richardson's special effects team. Finally a new green screen experience illustrates what working on the films is like from an actor's point of view. This section opened in late March 2015.[25]

Forbidden ForestEdit

The attraction's Forbidden Forrest expansion opened in March 2017.[26][27]

Gringotts Wizarding BankEdit

In April 2019 the Gringotts Wizarding Bank expansion opened.[28] It is the largest expansion to date, at 16,500 ft².[29]

ReceptionEdit

The tour was warmly received by the press in the run up to its launch. Anita Singh of The Daily Telegraph described the model of Hogwarts Castle as "the highlight" of the tour.[30]

AwardsEdit

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter has won several awards since its opening, including:

  • 2013 Thea Award for Outstanding Achievement[31]
  • 2013 Telly Award for Editing[32]
  • 2013 Trip Advisor Certificate of Excellence[33]
  • 2013 UKinbound Award for Individual Attraction of the Year[34]
  • 2012 Event Technology Silver Award for Best Use of Handheld Technology[35]
  • 2012 UK Customer Experience Award for Best Leisure & Retail Experience[36]
  • 2012 Group Leisure Award for Best UK Attraction[37]

The Studio Tour has also been presented with awards for its lighting design, including the 2013 IES Illumination Award of Merit[38] and 2013 Lighting Design Award for Lighting for Leisure.[39]

In addition, the Studio Tour was named one of the Top 10 Most Innovative Entertainment Design Projects of 2012 by EntertainmentDesigner.com.[40]

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ TripAdvisor. "Reviews Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, Leavesden, Hertfordshire".
  2. ^ Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust. "Leavesden".
  3. ^ "Leavesden Aerodrome - From Halifaxes to Hogwarts". www.allhs.org.uk. Retrieved 2016-05-03.
  4. ^ Goldsmith, Ben; O'Regan, Tom (26 September 2017). "The Film Studio: Film Production in the Global Economy". Rowman & Littlefield – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone - Leavesden Studios".
  6. ^ "Harry Potter becomes highest-grossing film franchise". The Guardian. UK. 11 November 2007. Retrieved 17 November 2007.
  7. ^ Jaafar, Ali (2010-01-27). "Warner to buy Leavesden Studios". Variety.
  8. ^ Sabbagh, Dan; Sweney, Mark (9 November 2010). "Warner Bros buys Harry Potter studios in £100m boost for UK films". The Guardian. London.
  9. ^ "Warner Bros. Acquires Leavesden Studios and Unveils Plans for Major UK Production Base". 6 December 2010. Archived from the original on 6 December 2010.CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  10. ^ "Warner Bros. unveils plans for Harry Potter attraction". Watford Observer.
  11. ^ "Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter - Thinkwell Group, Inc". Archived from the original on 2016-11-21. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  12. ^ "Harry Potter Message Boards :: SnitchSeeker.com - Powered by vBulletin". www.snitchseeker.com.
  13. ^ "Cast & crew attend Warner Bros Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter grand opening - SnitchSeeker.com". www.snitchseeker.com.
  14. ^ Tyko, Kelly. "Warner Bros. is now selling bottled Butterbeer. But Harry Potter fans in the US may be out of luck". USA TODAY. Retrieved 2021-03-29.
  15. ^ "Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit Harry Potter studios". BBC News. 2013-04-26.
  16. ^ "Royals enjoy a wizard time on Harry Potter studio tour". Watford Observer.
  17. ^ "Photos: Duke and Duchess at Inauguration of Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden". Denver Post.
  18. ^ "Tour Experience FAQs Warner Bros. Studio Tour London". Warner Bros. Studios, Leavesden.
  19. ^ a b Sabbagh, Dan (2012-06-10). "Josh Berger on Leavesden film studios: Harry Potter's new chamber of secrets". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  20. ^ "Warner Bros. Studio Tour London's accessibility guide to the tour".
  21. ^ Diagon Alley on Google Maps Street View https://www.google.co.uk/maps/@51.693039,-0.419751,3a,75y,25.91h,92.04t/data=!3m5!1e1!3m3!1s5KoMaToRAuKWnkk7O54LGQ!2e0!3e2
  22. ^ WBSTL. "WBSTL's Dark Arts feature page". Archived from the original on 2016-10-07. Retrieved 2016-07-25.
  23. ^ Watford Observer. "Story covering the Animal Actors feature".
  24. ^ Warner Bros. "Warner's list of upcoming special features at the tour".
  25. ^ "Harry Potter Tour introducing Platform 9 ¾". 26 January 2015.
  26. ^ "Step into the Forbidden Forest".
  27. ^ "The Forbidden Forest is coming to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London". 28 January 2017.
  28. ^ "Harry Potter's Warner Bros Studio Tour launches BIGGEST expansion ever with Gringotts Wizarding Bank update". 29 January 2019.
  29. ^ "REVIEW: Gringotts Wizarding Bank expansion at Warner Bros. Studio Tour London". 4 May 2019.
  30. ^ Singh, Anita (2012-03-14). "Harry Potter studio tour: first review". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 2012-07-25.
  31. ^ Rubin, Judith (21 December 2012). "Thea Awards & TEA Summit 2013: Warner Bros. Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter named for 2013 Thea Award by Themed Entertainment Association".
  32. ^ 34th Annual Telly Award Winners http://www.tellyawards.com/winners/list/entries/?l=thinkwell&event=&category=2&award=3
  33. ^ Trip Advisor - Warner Bros. Studio Tour London http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g2691242-d2147749-Reviews-Warner_Bros_Studio_Tour_London-Leavesden_Hertfordshire_England.html
  34. ^ [1] Archived May 21, 2012, at the Wayback Machine
  35. ^ http://www.eventmarketer.com/sites/default/files/EventTech%20Awards.pdf
  36. ^ "Winners - UK Customer Experience Awards UK Customer Experience Awards".
  37. ^ "Group Leisure Awards 2012 e-magazine".
  38. ^ 2013 IES Illumination Award of Merit Recipient List http://www.ies.org/pdf/Awards/ia/IES%20IA%20MERITS%202013.pdf Archived 2015-04-03 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ "Lighting Design Awards 2013". Archived from the original on 2013-05-10. Retrieved 2016-07-24.
  40. ^ "The Top 10 Most Innovative Entertainment Design Projects of 2012 – Entertainment Designer". 27 December 2012.

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 51°41′36″N 0°25′11″W / 51.69333°N 0.41972°W / 51.69333; -0.41972