I’ve visited the Warner Bros Studio Tour twice in the past, but with its ever-expanding exhibitions I know it’s somewhere I’ll keep coming back to. Since my last visit in October 2016 it has had two new areas added, the Forbidden Forest and more recently, Gringotts Bank, we well as a whole new entrance area. So when Golden Tours reached out to me to offer me a trip I knew I would say yes, and this was before I’d even hear it’s biggest draw. This wasn’t a normal trip on offer, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet two of the stars from the film; Fred and George Weasley, also known as James and Oliver Phelps in a special after-hours Warner Bros Studio tour experience.
I invted my Potter-loving friend Hayley along with me and our adventure began when we were picked up on our Golden Tours coach at Victoria station, it was a surprisingly quick journey and we soon found ourselves pulling up outside the now-iconic studio building. Heading inside I was surprised at how much had changed since my last visit to the Warner Bros Studio, the entrance area is now much bigger, with more space to relax before your tour starts, a bigger coffee shop, a life-size dragon and a new cafe aptly named the Chocolate Frog Cafe. I loved the theming of this cafe, it’s seriously Instagram-worthy!
At our allocated time we started our journey into the tour, the beginning is also new from since my last visit and the famous cupboard under the stairs set is now at the start of the tour itself, rather than being in the entranceway as it was previously. There are now additional rooms before the start of the guided tour section which makes for a smoother transition. The preshow areas are much the same and of course, that infamous reveal is still as perfect as ever (I don’t want to give too much away here for anyone who hasn’t been) We soon we found ourselves inside the famous Great Hall set and onto the self-guided portion of our tour.
Winding through the various sets, costumes and special effects areas there were new additions in the form of the ‘Dark Arts’ stations which have arrived for Halloween season which focuses on the more spooky side of the Harry Potter films! These are places throughout the tour and all have a different focus, from the Death Eaters Costumes to villainous special effects design and so many more. I particularly loved the members of the Harry Potter Art Department who were on hand to explain how they made the Death Eater masks, as well as the station showing how they make some of the grosser practical effects like snot and unicorn blood.
Another new edition is the wand combat interactive class, where you get to practice your moves against actual Death Eaters. I was unsurprisingly clumsy at this, but it was seriously fun. Then it was time to explore the Forbidden Forest where you met all its most creepy creatures. I loved the lightning and fog effects which make the giant spiders even more terrifying, as well as seeing some of the other animatronics up close.
As we headed to platform nine and three quarters it was time to meet the twins themselves. Both were very sweet and gracious and a true joy for any fan to meet, they happily stood there hours signing and having their photos taken. They are a true credit to the Harry Potter franchise.
By now it was time to rest up with some Butterbeer, our admission gave us the option of a free Butterbeer drink or Butterbeer ice cream, both of which come in a souvenir cup or bowl. Now if you’ve read my post on UK vs US Butterbeer you will know it is a subject very close to my heart, so after a lot of deliberation I chose the drink variety. I was very happy to see that they had changed their souvenir cup to match the one in the US which I much prefer, and you get more as a result, a win in my book!
As we had to wait quite a while to meet the twins we were now some of the only people left in the studios. We had over an hour and a half left to do the second half of the tour and there were only around 10 people left with us, which made for an incredible experience. Getting to explore with no one around gave us the real VIP experience!
Another new area is Gringotts bank, and I am not kidding when I say this truly blew me away! The sets are all full scale so you feel totally immersed. The behind the scenes information was really fascinating, especially how they did the prosthetics for the Goblins. My favourite part of the whole tour came when entering the area where the dragon attacks the bank, I won’t give too much away but the special effects are all really impressive and make this feel totally real! The mixture of AV and practical effects really bring the area to life.
We ended our tour by visiting Diagon Alley and Hogwarts castle sets, which we now had totally to ourselves, wel just us and a couple of Death Eaters! By now it was midnight and we’d spent a full five hours exploring the tour and loved every minute so it was time to grab out Golden Tours bus back to London. I can honestly say this is one of the best things I’ve experienced all year.
As the event was a special evening event which came complete with the meet and greet and complimentary Butterbeer. There aren’t any more of these advertised currently but keep an eye on the Golden Tours website to find out when the next one is. In the meantime, check out their regular Warner Bros Studio tour which comes with return transfers and entrance tickets. Prices start from £85.
Have you ever met any Harry Potter stars? If you are a Harry Potter fan make sure you check out my posts on A History of Magic at The British Library, Battle of the Butterbeer, Magical Cocktail Concoctions, my previous post on the Warner Bros Studio Tour and the London Harry Potter Walking Tour.
Tickets were provided by Golden Tours in exchange for a review, all words and opinions are my own.