The day before my birthday, we went to Leavesden Studios in London where all the Harry Potter films were made. It’s a good place to go because it’s not right in London, it’s really easy to find. As you queue to go in, you pass the cupboard under the stairs, and the entryway is full of huge pictures of all the cast. Then you watch a short video which tells you how the three main actors/actress pretty much lived here for 10 years. The film ends with a shot of the great hall, then the screen lifts up to reveal the actual great hall! When you walk into the great hall, all the teacher’s costumes are there, plus costumes from all 4 of the houses including Daniel Radcliffe’s first Hogwarts robes. From there, the tour is self-guided. They tell you to allow yourself 3 to 3 1/2 hours to go around the whole thing, but I took 6 hours so it depends how big of a fan you are.
There are loads of sets from the films including: The Gryffindor boys dormitory, everyone’s bed is personalized to their character, and the beds were made for the first film, so by the last film the actors had to curl up to fit in them.
The Gryffindor common room and Dumbledore’s office which is full of books, actually phone books with thick leather covers. Also Dumbledore’s telescope which is the most expensive prop ever made, yet is only ever seen in the background.
Professor Lupin’s defense against the dark arts classroom, and the potions classroom, it’s dark shelves crammed with over 500 jars of ingredients. There’s Hagrid’s hut, and the Weasley’s kitchen where the knitting knits itself, the pans scrub themselves, and there are cereals called cheeri-owls and pixie puffs.
You can even do some things yourself; I got to put on Hogwarts robes and ride a broom in front of a green screen. And I learned some wand movements from the battle at the end of Order of the Phoenix.
Then you go out to the backlot where there is the flying Ford Anglia, the Knight bus, and 4 Privet Drive!
Then on to the second stage where you’ll find the creature shop (which means lots of prosthetics and animatronics) and all the concept art and models. In the creature shop you can see Buckbeak, Aragog, Dobby, Fawkes, even, for some reason, Hagrid’s head.