Hi all, before my trip to Warner Bros Making of Harry Potter I was looking on this board for some insights, and found none. Now I've visited, I thought I'd post some insights for you all. First off, what I did find here on the board was some issue of whether or not it was "worth making" the trip out to Watford or not from London. I would consider us "solid" HP fans, and we've done a lot of the HP sights, including The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, the London sights, the Yorkshire sights and the Edinburgh sights. The Warner Bros Making of Harry Potter is NOTHING like any of these. It is super interesting. Our kids (9 and 11) loved it. EVERYTHING here was used in the movies or in the making of the movies. In sum, if you're a Harry Potter fan, this is definately, definately worth a visit. I have heard if you come by train, you take it to Watford, and there is a very efficient shuttle bus from their. We were driving, stayed the night at the local, and very nice, Premier Inn (GBP 40 per night), did their all you can eat breakfast (kids eat free), and arrived at WBMHP at 9:15 am. We got front row parking, grabbed our tickets (you MUST make reservations), and waited in a small line for the doors to open at 9:30 am. From there, as others checked out the lobby (you can do this on the way out), we made ourselves FIRST in line for the tour. Our tickets were for 10:30 am, but there seems to be no problem going early. We chatted with the WBMHP staff, who had met many of the cast in person. They were great. They gave the kids a little book so they could find golden snitches and get stamps. It was a nice little keepsake for the kids.
(part 2) We were first in, and went to the middle door of the "waiting area". After a few minutes, there was an intro talk here, and then they let you into the movie theater for an intro movie. Since they like to fill the theater up, we had to go all the way in. Also, there is some benefit to being on the front row of the movie theater, so it would be better to go in the left door from the waiting area, and allow about 8 people to be in front of you. After the movie, the screen lifts, and you are at the doors to the actual great hall movie set. If you'd like photos of the entire set without anyone in it, this is where being at the front with your camera ready would help. There was only maybe 80 people in our group, but you only get about 15 mins in the Great Hall, but still, if you take photos away from where the tour gude is talking, you have lots of very clear shots. Then you move onto the first of two stages (which are converted aircraft hangars). Once you leave one hangar you cannot return, so make sure you complete the one you're in before proceeding. It took us about 1.5 hours per hangar. We took lots of photos.
Part 3 The first hangar has the "green screen with the Ford Anglia" and the "green screen on the broomsticks". Although we did not go straight there, when we got to it, we saw there was no line and went straight in! Since I've heard of people waiting 45 mins, and the "disneyland line" has signs showing "the wait from here is 1 hour", I can see why going at 9:30 was a really smart move. After the first hangar, you go outside, and we grabbed some butterbear. Despite what the folks there at WBMHP say about this being the same as at the Wizarding World of HP in Orlando, it is not. Also, they do not have the blended (frapped) version of Butter Beer. Again, being early meant lots of time for pictures in the Ford Anglia, on Hagrid's Motorbike and such, without anyone else around. Our kids spent quite some time on Hagrid's bike. The second hangar was just as interesting as the first, and you finish in the gift shop. If you're here from the USA, you can get almost all (but not all...you should ask) the stuff from the Universal Studios website, and pay less even with shipping. For instance, the wands are GBP25, and they are $32 from the online store (http://www.universalorlando.com/Merchandise/Shop/Owl_Post.html). You can touch and feel everything here, and then just order it to be shipped home instead. All in all, we were there from 9:15 am until 1:15 pm. Totally worth the money and time!!
I envy you! Sounds like great fun.
It was a lot better than we imagined it would be!! I can see why non-HP fans would like this "tour", as there is lots to learn if you're just interested in films / movie.
David, thanks for taking the time to do this post! Not sure if we will get the chance to go, but wonderful to hear your firsthand experiences. My kids (now 18 and 21) and I are great HP fans, too. Would like to know if you could only do one, Making of HP or WWof HP, which would you choose and why?
(Part 1) Kathy, That's a reall
y good question, and really tricky to answer. I'd have to say WWHP, and I just checked, and my wife agrees. Even though it's not the actual stuff from the movies, it is so well done (JKR helped them), that it feels amazing to be "in" Hogsmeade, and actually walking through the castle. I thought the main ride, in Hogwarts, was amazing. I think we optimized our trip, which helped tremendously with the enjoyment of WWHP, as follows: We booked in to the cheapest of the parnter hotels - we were at the hotel purely to sleep, after all. This allows you into WWHP 1 hour before everyone else. Imagine being in Honeydukes practically on your own! We had milk and zonebars, and had those for breakfast in the short line that builds up for that early opening. We bought the "fast pass". This allows you to jump to the front of the line once. Now, you can't actually use it in WWHP, but you've already managed to hit the main Hogwarts ride three times before the rest of the crowds arrive, so now you leave WWHP and check out the rest of the Universal Studios park, walking to the front of the line for all the rides.
(part 2) We did buy the "eat in the park" option - bad idea. Better to buy what you want, when you want. We actually left the park during the crazy busy 1 pm - 4 pm time slot. We usually went to the onsite Universal movie theater. We bought lots of butterbeer, and enjoyed it out on the deck looking at Hogwarts. If you buy it at the Three Broomsticks, most people don't know there is a deck outside at the back. Great way to enjoy the view. We did one day at Discovery Cove. Expensive and worth it. The dolphin experience was the least interesting part of the whole day, amazingly enough. That gives you a free entry to Sea World, which is a nice change of pace from WWHP and Universal Studios, but you can also do some more extreme parks instead, for free. Cheers!
We just did the trip as well - June 2012. It was truly a great day! My kids are hp fans - but I had never seen the movies. I LOVED it! It was so interesting and really amazing to see the creativity and the actual props, houses, wardrobe, make-up, the hall...there was hours of stuff to look at!