Visiting Harry Potter world was always going to be on my list of things to do on a visit to England. But it became an absolute bucket list item when we visited New Zealand last year. One of the people in our group hadn’t been all that interested in visiting Hobbiton, since she wasn’t a Tolkien fan. But she loved it and said if I ever got a chance to visit HP World – grab it, do that. So that item was there on the ‘to do’ list as soon as we decided to do our Christmas visit – which was a good ten months before it happened.
I admit I thoroughly enjoyed reading JK Rowling’s incredibly popular Harry Potter book series about a magical world that coexists with our own, starting with a kid’s book for 11 year olds and becoming, as Harry ages, progressively darker and more dangerous. I enjoyed the movies – though the books are better. Warner Bros studios has preserved many of the sets for the 7 Harry Potter movies and produced displays showing how the special effects were created. I’ve always loved ‘the making of’ stuff and I was eager to go.
The thing is, like the books themselves, HP World is very popular. We tried to book for December way back in late September – and all dates in December were sold out.
But Linda was not deterred. She haunted the internet, looking for cancellations or maybe a tour group with tickets. Eventually, after much effort, she obtained tickets. The price was exorbitant, but beggars and all that. So, on our last full day in England, off we went.
Harry Potter World is a very different experience to Hobbiton. Hobbiton was a film set but visiting it is more of a glimpse at the world of the Hobbits. HP World is all about how movie magic is created.
Being such a popular venue, it’s important that it’s very well organised and controlled so that there aren’t a million people all milling around at once. There are set entry times. The group for our time slot was shown a short movie introducing the show, then went into the set for the Great Hall. From there, we could move at our own pace through the exhibitions. Some were hands on, some gave presentations on how and why. That included how the quidditch scenes and the dragon scenes from the tri-wizard cup competition were filmed (all using green screen, but also CGI). We saw how the masks were made for actors playing goblins. We saw the set for Diagon Alley and the enormous model of Hogwarts castle. And creatures like dragons, underwater critters, giant spiders, the hippogriff etc etc. There is so much to see and learn.
I passed on the butter beer. I’ve been told it’s not very nice.
Check out the website here. And here’s a glimpse of what we saw.
This is the old, blind dragon breaking out of Gringott’s bank.
This section showed how Dobby the house elf was animated.
We had a thoroughly marvellous time. It’s the sort of place you can stay in for days, learning about different processes. Highly recommended. Just make sure you book early.
By the way, if you’ve happened upon this page by accident and you’d like to read more about the tour, go to the tour page where you’ll find the rest of our adventures.