Everyone has heard of the game ‘Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon’ haven’t they?
The game is based on the belief that any individual involved in the movie industry can be linked to the actor Kevin Bacon within six steps…. Well I think that Walt Disney World fans have the same ability to link any everyday situation to Disney in a very small number of steps too!
And here is my example…. I visited the Warner Bros. Studio tour on Saturday to look at the Harry Potter exhibition, it reminded me of being at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios Orlando, being at Universal reminds me of being at Walt Disney World…
So there you have it; in three simple steps I have connected Harry Potter to WDW and have completely justified why this blog post is appearing on my Disney blog!!!!
I also wanted to share this experience with you, and write about the amazing amount of magic and talent that I saw as I walked around the studios. It’s the same feeling that I get when Disney announces something new coming to the parks or when I read an interview with an Imagineer and yet again I am amazed by their achievements.
I will try to give you an outline of the exhibition without giving away too much detail, so that I do not spoil it for any readers who are lucky enough to be visiting themselves. If you are overseas and won’t have the opportunity to visit in person then search Google for more details, I’m sure you will not be shocked to see how many people have written and posted photos of this place. The official website is a good place to start.
The Warner Bros. Studios are located in Leavesden, Watford (just outside London) and for over ten years these studios were used for the filming of the Harry Potter movies. In fact filming started here for the first film on 29th September 2000.
After the filming ended Warner Bros. invested over £100 million into the Leavesden Studios to create ‘Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden‘, a permanent UK film production base for the company. As part of the redevelopment the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London was set up, a permanent behind-the-scenes walking tour which currently holds props, costumes and sets from the Harry Potter collection.
The collection / tour opened to the public on 31 March 2012 and has been received with rave reviews. I had the opportunity to organise a group visit for the staff association at my workplace; the tickets were so difficult to come by that I bought them in November 2011 for a visit date that wasn’t until June 2012!
The tour is self guided and the official notes advise that it takes about three hours to get round everything. We were walking round for about three and a half hours but it felt a lot longer, and we certainly did not rush through anything!!
The first thing that made me think of WDW was the queue. Once you had entered the main building your ticket was scanned and you could join the queue for the next group of guests to be let into the exhibition space. The queue snaked backwards and forwards allowing a lot of guests to queue in quite a small area, just like queuing up for an attraction in the parks.
Groups of guests were then led into a room for a welcome video….again reminding me of a Disney attraction. After the introduction the tour leads into the first sound stage holding The Great Hall (this is the ACTUAL hall which features in the films and is AMAZING), costumes, sets (such as Dumbledore’s office and Hagrid’s Hut) and so many amazing props, designed and built by such talented people.
There are videos playing on screens and boards next to most exhibits, giving you as much information as you want to take in.
After the first sound stage the tour moves to an outside area. Here you find the larger items; such as the triple-decker Knight bus, the Chess Pieces and Number 4 Privet Drive.
This is also the stop for a glass of Butterbeer…something which I missed out on when visiting Universal Studios so couldn’t wait to try…personally, I LOVED it!!!!
The tour then moves into the second sound stage and features the creative department. Lots of masks and creepy crawlies in here! You get to walk along the wonderfully designed Diagon Alley; the detail on these buildings is superb. There is also a display of White-Card Models which were built by the Art Department to assist the director and production designer look at size and scale before the actual set construction began.
And then…..the Hogwarts Castle model. I had seen it in photos and on tv but nothing prepared me for the sight in real life. I just wanted to capture every angle with my own camera. The actual model was used for aerial photography in the films and digitally scanned for CGI scenes. I just can’t get over the skill of the people involved in making this model.
After passing through the ‘wand room’, a room containing labelled wand boxes for more than 4,000 people who worked on the Harry Potter films, you end the tour in the gift shop. Well, it wouldn’t be an attraction if it didn’t end there!! Oh and in true ‘theme park’ tradition there are two souvenir photo opportunities along the tour, for an additional price of course
The exhibition doesn’t look anything fancy from the outside but when stepping through the doors of the Great Hall at the start of the tour you are immersed in magic and make-believe. It just gave me that same feeling which I get walking around the parks and it gave me the opportunity to daydream even though I was still in the ‘not so sunny’ UK!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this review and forgive me for a non-Disney post!!! For those of you in the UK I hope you also get to visit and see the amazing work that went into making these films. I’ve already bought tickets to go back in September….so I guess I’ll see you at Hogwarts