Fans of Harry Potter visiting Warner Bros Studio Tour London are now in for a huge treat because Gringotts Bank is officially open and it’s BREATHTAKING!
We visited Warner Bros Studio Tour for a special preview evening ahead of the official opening and had our best visit to the studios yet. We last visited for the Goblet of Fire event when it was clear that major works were underway as we had to enter via a makeshift entrance. The new main entrance is now complete and impressive from the front door.
A Grand Entrance
Once you have passed through security and got booked in you will enter a huge entrance hall. The new foyer is home to the Ukrainian Ironbelly Dragon who has broken free from Gringotts Bank. The model you will see suspended in the air was built specifically for Warner Bros Studio Tour and is built to half scale. The original dragon seen in the Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 was created by CGI.
Fuel yourself before you start
If you look a little further around the new entrance hall to the walls high above you will see that they are very clever images of the characters with special effects in the background. At the far end you will see a large cafe area with the enchanted ceiling from The Great Hall and a quaint coffee shop designed to represent the boxes of the Chocolate Frog, they also have the best chocolate fountain I have ever seen!
With the excitement building, we were invited to begin the first part of our tour, through a series of rooms featuring stills from the movie sets and artwork as well as the odd photo opportunity thrown in for good measure. Finally, you will find yourself in the original holding room before you enter the cinema but even this has changed. The walls feature a wraparound screen with moving artwork (just like in the films) to explain more about the Studio Tour and how best to make the most of your time there.
Gringotts Bank and the Gallery of Goblins
After visiting the Back Lot you enter the special effects department the same as before but rather than rounding the corner to Diagon Alley, you now take a left turn and find yourself in the Gallery of Goblins. This is a fascinating section to spend time in although I was a little creeped out by the boxes of fingernails.
After the Goblins you will discover the artwork and set mockups for Gringotts Bank in its’ various stages. Nothing, however, will prepare you for the feeling as you come face to face with the set of the grand banking hall of Gringotts Bank. Despite seeing snippets of it online over the past few months, I still let out an audible ‘oh wow’ as I took in the imposing marble columns and gigantic crystal chandeliers. I was so taken aback, I actually walked back out and entered for a second time.
Attention to Detail
As with the rest of the WB Studio Tour, the attention to detail on the set is outstanding. The bank records, papers, weighing scales and quills were all in place. There were even a few of the Goblin Bank Tellers ready and waiting to serve you, albeit with rather creepy hollow eyes.
I loved seeing the small carts which carried the gold bullion, a reminder of the behind the scenes footage showing Warwick Davis’ children dressed as Goblins pushing them through the bank.
The LeStrange Vault
The LeStrange Vault is stacked to the ceiling with all manner of treasures including the Sword of Gryffindor and Helga Hufflepuff’s cup, one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. As soon as the children saw the vault they began excitedly telling us about when the treasures began to multiply. It’s as though you have been transported right into the movie. Just after the vault, you will have an opportunity to take a selfie in a mock-up of the set as you hang on to the Sword of Gryffindor raising the Hufflepuff cup in victory.
A special surprise
Before you rejoin the tour in the familiar surroundings of Diagon Alley there is one more surprise in store for you. Obviously, I am not going to be a spoilsport and tell you what it is, you’ll have to go along and see for yourself but it’s well worth waiting and watching. Do not be tempted to move on too quickly to Diagon Alley.
Top Tip – Ask Questions
At the start of the tour in the wraparound screen room, the talking artwork encourages you to ask questions of the staff who you will encounter throughout the tour. As we were walking through the art department Albie was asking me questions about Dobby when I spotted a member of staff. I suggested he ask the Tour Guide, so he did.
Not only did the guide answer Albie’s rather obscure question, but he also climbed over the barriers and opened the drawers of the desk to show the children some of the original storyboards and set mockups which they wouldn’t have seen otherwise. There is so much still to discover, I don’t think we will ever tire of visiting WB Studio Tour London.
Updated Shopping Experience
As you step out of Olivander’s Wand shop you will find yourself in the WB Studio Tour gift shop which has also undergone a facelift. Believe me, when I say you’ll need time to fully explore this section of the tour too, we entered the shop at 8.25pm and didn’t leave until 9.30pm!! There is a huge choice of souvenirs ranging from pencils at £1 through to clothing, jewellery and memorabilia for those with a much bigger budget.
Full Photo Gallery
Anyone who knows me will tell you that I love to take photographs, LOTS of photographs. If you would like to see all of the photographs I took of our Harry Potter experience then pop over to the Mummy Matters Facebook page and grab a cuppa whilst you work your way through.