Four weeks ago, I visited the Harry Potter studios for the third time, yes third time. I just love the place. This time, however, I went to the Hogwarts in the Snow event, and I saw (for the first time) the Hogwarts Express. And let me tell you, it’s amazing.
The Hogwarts in the Snow New Features
Having visited the studios before, many of the sets were familiar to me. What was different was the Christmas decorations.
Starting in the Studio Tour Lobby, you were greeted by a giant beautifully decorated Christmas tree (see photo). After the normal studio tour introduction, we then saw the Great Hall, which too was decorated
To really appreciate the room, you had to look closer at the tables and the walls for the smaller details: on the Christmas trees you had a flying witch instead of an angel, the Christmas cakes had snowmen wearing the Hogwarts uniform, and each Hogwarts School House had crackers in their School House colours. We also saw the Christmas puddings being lit (They were fake Christmas puddings).
Not only was the Great Hall decorated differently, but some of the studio sets, such as the Gryffindor common room, were also decorated. Again, if you looked closer, you could see little details like the made Christmas cards on the fireplace in the Gryffindor common room. The Weasley’s kitchen also had a snowing scene outside of the window. It really was impressive.
As well as the extra decorations, there were some new features added to the tour. You had the Goblet of Fire Stand and during the talk, you were able to see the Goblet of Fire rise out of the stand and throw out a piece of paper. As you can see from the photo, the stand is different from the film; this is due to the stand being altered via CGI.
There was also a snow and fire display where you could feel the different materials that they used for snow, and you could feel the fake fire, which actually felt warm. It’s amazing how they create the different types of snow. If you plan to visit the Studio Tour during the Hogwarts in the Snow event, make sure you do go to the snow area and feel the different types of snow for yourself.
The Hogwarts Express
Now let’s get to the main attraction: The Hogwarts Express. Before you see the train, you walk down a corridor that has photos of the Hogwarts Express, etc. At the bottom of the corridor is a luggage set, which is an ideal photo opportunity. Then when you turn the corner, you see The Hogwarts Express. However, before you head to the train, you should have a go at the guess-whose-luggage-it-is game. You should also take advantage of the ‘Trolley through the wall’ set, which looks like you are pushing your luggage through the wall.
Once you have explored those areas, you can explore the Hogwarts Express, and not only can you take photos by the Hogwarts Express, but you can also get on board the train. Yes, you can actually get on the train; I never expected to be able to do that. When I first heard about the Hogwarts Express coming to the Studio Tours, I thought you could only take your photo by it, so I was surprised that we could get on board the train; however, we couldn’t get inside the carriages.
There is also another photo opportunity: the interior carriage set. We got a printed copy of that photo. There’s also a Railway gift shop in this area of the Studio Tour. I bought a charm bracelet and a 9 ¾ charm.
The Backlot Café
Another new part of the studios is The Backlot Café. I’m not sure how long the café has been there for, but the last time I visited (October 2014) there was only the Backlot area with the food stand and a cover for the seating area. Now there’s a new café, and not only can you buy Butterbeer, you can also buy Butterbeer ice cream. I never tried the ice cream (it was too cold for that), but I did enjoy some Butterbeer.
Once we left The Backlot Café and went outside, we were surprised to see that it was snowing. What was even stranger was walking further along and noticing that it was only snowing in one spot. That was when we noticed that a snow machine, which was positioned on top of the Backlot Café’s roof, was creating the snow.
Now after seeing the Hogwarts Express I didn’t think anything could beat it in the wow factor, but I was wrong. When it came to seeing the Hogwarts castle, I couldn’t help but feel amazed. Even after seeing the castle two times before, it was still a breath-taking sight. The amount of detail that is added to the castle is astonishing, and the added snow makes it look even better. The castle is a great way to end the tour.
The Gift Shop
To end my visit, I went to the main gift shop and bought a snitch charm and Scabbers (Ron’s rat – The naughty Peter Pettigrew). Everyone thinks Scabbers is creepy looking, but I think he’s cute, even though he did betray Harry’s parents. Note: you can quite easily spend hours in this shop, so allow plenty of time at the end of your tour to visit the gift shop.
So there you have it, my magical Harry Potter studio tour adventure. Again, I left the studios with a warm fluffy feeling, and I also had the urge to write because visiting the studios reminds me that the whole Harry Potter world came from a writer who had an idea on a train. It’s amazing what we writers can create. I’m now reading the Harry Potter books again, and I’m falling in love with them all over again.
I would encourage everyone to go to the Harry Potter Studio tour. It’s a delight for any Harry Potter fan.
“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” ― J.K. Rowling