Hogwarts for Muggles: How YOU can fly on a broomstick, ride the Knight Bus and see all the behind-the-scenes magic of the Harry Potter movies
07:58 GMT, 16 March 2012
The joy of Harry Potter has always
been the idea of entering a world of magic, wizards and ghosts; being
able to turn your horrible cousins into pigs; and battling dragons,
goblins and giants. And now you really, truly – well, almost – can.
J. K. Rowling may have written her
last Harry Potter book. The film franchise may also be over. But
disconsolate muggles who miss the wizarding world can rejoice as The
Making Of Harry Potter studios will open in just a couple of weeks.
using a bit of magic of my own, I managed to get a sneak preview.
First, my attire. I did not need to go under the sorting hat to decide I
would be a Gryffindor girl for my trip into Harry’s world, just like
the lightning-scarred wizard and his friends Hermione and Ron. Who would
want to be anything else
Magical mystery tour: Nicole Lampert flies above Hogwarts
With my cape, scarf, a lead-weighted
copy of Hermione’s ornate wand and a special-edition Firebolt (the
Rolls-Royce of the broomstick world) costing 249.99, I was ready for
action. The Firebolt was extremely heavy – just like the ones they used
in the movie. How on earth did diddy Harry actor Daniel Radcliffe make
it look so easy
The magic starts in the entrance
hall; the flying Ford Anglia used by the Weasleys nestles nonchalantly
in a corner, and you can also peer into Harry’s childhood bedroom under
the stairs of the Dursley house.
It is 18 months since Radcliffe, Emma
Watson and Rupert Grint (Harry, Hermione and Ron) left Leavesden, near
Watford, Herts – their home from home for more than a decade. But they
are back in a video to welcome you to the tour.
Then the doors open into the Great
Hall at Hogwarts, decked out for a fabulous dinner, where you can
imagine Harry receiving an evil look from his enemy Draco Malfoy.
Scroll down for a video tour of Hogwarts
Grand opening: The attraction is due to open its doors on March 31 – just in time for the Easter Holidays
Great Hall: Inside Hogwarts Castle at the studios near Watford, north London. The film set opens to the public for the first time on March 31 – but tickets will cost 83 for a family of four
Details: Original costumes from the films line the walls of the refectory and (left) and (right) Nicole boards the Knight Bus
Dumbledore’s office: Built for Harry Potter And The Chamber Of Secrets the room is home to the Sorting Hat, The Sword of Gryffindor and Dumbledore’s desk
Daniel once admitted he was close to
tears when the hall was partially destroyed for the final scenes of the
last movie. But now it has been lovingly rebuilt, brick by brick.
Before it was a film studio,
Leavesden was an aircraft factory, so there’s plenty of space to prove
that the real geniuses on the films worked behind the scenes.
There’s the Gryffindor dormitory,
Dumbledore’s office and Hagrid’s hut, which is tiny – a simple trick to
make actor Robbie Coltrane truly look like a giant.
At the Weasley house I got to try my
hand at some real magic, pointing a wand to make an iron start moving,
before invisible hands started knitting. Incredible!
Harry Potter High Street: Visitors can enjoy a spot of window shopping in the brilliant stores along magical Diagon Alley
Retail wizardry: Visitors can read a few
spellbooks at Flourish & Blotts book shop or perhaps choose new wand
at Wiseacres Wizarding Equipment
Tickets for the 150,000 square foot attraction will cost 83 for a family of four. Bought individually, they are priced at a staggering 28 for adults and 21 for children
Attractions: Another view of Diagon Alley (left) and the purple triple decker bus used in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Attraction: The 150,000 square foot Warner Bros studios are due to open their doors to the public on March 31 – just in time for the Easter holidays. A family ticket will cost 83
Then I got to fly my broomstick.
Sitting in front of a green screen with a fan blowing the wind in my
hair, I could really feel what it was like for the actors as I flew over
the sights of London and into Hogwarts.
In the backlot, you can step onto the
Knight Bus, created from three vintage London double-deckers, and see
Privet Drive, home of the awful Dursleys.
Then I found myself in Diagon Alley (almost), pressing my face against the window of Ollivander’s wand shop.
And I’m sure I’m not the only Potter
fan who will feel the trickle of a tear when they first see the huge
model of Hogwarts. Standing at a 1:24 ratio, with a diameter of 50ft, it
contains elements of Durham Cathedral and Alnwick Castle, where some
scenes where shot, but it’s more ornate than any real building.
The tour opens with a film about the Harry Potter phenomenon. Visitors then enter a separate auditorium to see footage of stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson
Harry's hang out: Gryffindor common room is recreated to the finest detail
Film set: The Weasley family kitchen – set ready for dinner – with a bowl of fruit on the table. the studios open their doors on March 31 and tickets can be pre-booked
Magical: Professor Umbridge's office inside the Ministry of Magic at the Harry Potter film studios
There are tiny, hand-crafted sculptures and 300 fibre-optic lights that simulate lanterns and even give the illusion of students moving through the hallways.
For Harry fans the exhibition is a must-see, but parents should note this is not a theme park – there are no rides and very little to touch. And with tickets costing 28 for adults and 21 for children, this is not a cheap day out.
But it’s a wondrous experience and though it hasn’t even opened yet, the exhibition – which will take 5,000 visitors a day – is practically sold out until September.
Harry Potter has always been a goldmine. And it appears his magical money-spinning is set to continue.
Warner Bros Studio Tour London – The Making Of Harry Potter opens at Leavesden, Herts, on March 31. Visit wbstudiotour.co.uk
Now you can see it: Original costumes from the film including Harry's cloak of invisibility
In the classroom: The potions room at Hogwarts school with textbooks laid out on the table, left, and some of the animatronics which were used in the films
Proud: Jose Granell, model supervisor, is
pictured with the model of Hogwarts Castle. It has been used for every
one of the Harry Potter films
Impressive: The model as it appears in the film Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Chance for all to see: The castle will go on
display as part of The Making Of Harry Potter studio tour at Leavesden
Incredible: This extraordinary model of the
Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is due to go on display for
the first time