I started reading the Harry Potter series in 2001 when the first four books were published. I read them so greedily, pouring myself into the pages and escaping into another world. I was captivated and truly enchanted. I never went as far as queuing up at midnight for the next book or dressing up for the upcoming film (which is totes fine btw), but I was and still am a huge fan of the universe.
So naturally, when Warner Bros at Pinewood opened the doors to how the magic was made on the big screen, I definitely wanted to visit and see for myself.
The Making of Harry Potter is located North West of London, a 15-minute bus journey from Watford Junction. Easily accessible by train and shuttle bus or a short drive from the M25 motorway. It is free parking right outside, and Golden Tours even do a shuttle bus from central London (at a cost).
Entry is ticketed with prices around £40 for an adult. Tickets must be purchased in advance and can be printed off or collected from the venue. Your card gives you an allocated entry time slot for entry into the attraction. Get there with plenty of time, you can always have a drink or bite to eat in the cafe or have a wee look around the shop. You do not want to be late and miss anything!
When you first enter you are taken into a prescreening room with some pleasant and overtly happy hosts (seriously had too much butterbeer!) to watch a short 5-minute clip on what the tour is really about.
I really want to tell you about the tour but also want to keep it a bit of a surprise for people who haven’t been before.
Walking into the Great Hall is pretty magical and the only part of the tour which is guided. The tables are laid, and the costumes and outfits are scattered around, including the teachers at the far end of the hall.
Pretty much everything from the films is here on tour. From the Gryffindor Common Room, Potions Classroom, Hagrid’s Hut, the Burrow’s kitchen and Dumbledore’s office. In a previous expansion, the Hogwarts Express train is now on site and even more recently the Forbidden Forest (hopefully minus the spiders!).
The average person spends about 3-4 hours at the tour, and about halfway through is a cafe where you can stop for a Butterbeer (be warned it is super sweet, I had to share a small one!) before stepping outside where the Knight Bus, Privet Drive and the Potter’s House at Godric Hollow is.
There are interactive sections and demonstrations where you can learn specific wand movement for duelling, you can play Quidditch in front of a green screen, and I have even visited when Death Eaters are lurking about (Hallowe’en special event).
Yes, the tour is quite pricey, even for London standards but you are getting a lengthy, immersive and interactive experience. It is magical for any Harry Potter fan, and also if you are not a huge fan (like two people I went with), it is still a really cool experience understanding how these blockbuster movies were made.