diamond geezer

 Monday, April 02, 2012

As unlikely as it might seems, Watford now boasts a world class visitor attraction - the Harry Potter Studio Tour, On Saturday Warner Brothers opened up part of their Leavesden studios in tribute to JK Rowling's boy wizard, and in the hope of making a shedload of money. They hope that families (and international tourists) will be tempted out of the capital to look round all the old film sets, as used by Daniel Radcliffe and friends for the best part of ten years. You must have seen the poster adverts plastered around town, they're everywhere, paid for out of a bottomless marketing budget. You won't have been yet, obviously. But I nearly have, if you're interested.

Most families will drive to get to Leavesden, obviously, because the M1 and M25 are only a very short distance away. But if you come by train via Watford Junction, a slightly special bus service has been laid on. Alas it's not the purple triple-decker which awaits in the bus station (that particular prop's at the studios), but a specially-dolled up black double-decker with scenes from Diagon Alley emblazoned across the outside [photo]. It's damned good value too, a mere £2 return up to Leavesden and back, even if it's fairly pointless taking a ride aboard if you haven't already shelled out the £28 for admission at the other end.

The bus gets querulous stares from the population of Watford as it passes, or maybe that's just a first weekend thing. It was all very exciting on board too, at least for a pair of Japanese tourists snapping away at the streets of North Watford as we sailed by. Proper terraces at first (they became quite animated on spotting "Shakespeare Road"), then outer suburban more reminiscent of Privet Drive. Only after humping across the A41 do the studios come into view - a long row of sheds across what used to be Leavesden Aerodrome. They've dressed them up very slightly by plastering five stills from the films across the front, but otherwise you could well believe Rolls Royce were still building aircraft engines inside.

The new road off the roundabout has been called "Studio Tour Drive", and is marked by an especially lame street sign pushed apologetically into a fresh flowerbed. Through the gate, past security, the bus pulls up on the edge of the car park pretty much outside the main entrance. I suspect there won't normally be four black buses parked up in a line, that was probably a special for the world's press who were swarming all over [photo]. They also made rather a nice backdrop for the Japanese folk to take more photos ("ha, this is me outside Ollivanders"), before wandering off in the general direction of the entrance doors.

But no ticket, no further progress. Especially not when the paying public are queueing along the red carpet for the official opening, blessed by whichever bunch of minor HP actors the management could persuade to attend [photo]. News crews and internet entertainment outlets swanned around, filming (and re-filming) snippets to camera ready for chopping up and editing later. And security kept their eyes on proceedings, wandering across the empty car park and milling around by the main entrance [photo]. Nothing to do but take the black bus back to Watford Junction, this time with a recorded "thank you for coming" message from Warwick Davis (seriously? Warwick Davis?) and a blaring showreel of Warner Brothers' upcoming releases.



So anyway, the message is, if you haven't bought a ticket in advance there really is no point in turning up to enjoy the cafe and the gift shop and the backlot, because there's nothing to see here but two big sheds. If you'd like to buy a ticket, be aware that the Easter holidays are fully booked and the next available timeslot is on Tuesday 24th April. And if you're playing the long game, Warner Brothers have hinted that their studio tour won't stay Potter-themed forever, and that the Dark Knight or Sherlock Holmes might get a look-in on site eventually. On the outskirts of Watford. Who'd ever have thought.

Ten Harry Potter Studio Tour bits and pieces
» All the film stages at Leavesden are lettered. The Harry Potter Tour is housed in Stages J and K, which is extremely appropriate.
» Mosquitos and Halifax Bombers were manufactured here during World War II, back when this was de Havilland Engine Company Limited.
» Warner Brothers recommend three hours inside from start to finish, although it's a self-guided tour so you might walk it rather quicker.
» It's £21 for a child's ticket, if you were wondering. You could buy half the Harry Potter novels for less than that.
» The bus to the studio is officially route 311, as a nod to the service that used to run out to Leavesden when it was still an aircraft factory.
» All the bus drivers on the special Watford Junction service were invited to tour the attraction last week. "The attention to detail is amazing," so I'm told.
» In the first film, Privet Drive was a cul-de-sac in Bracknell. For subsequent films, they recreated ten houses from the street on the backlot.
» Watford's no Orlando, so there are no rides.
» The Studio Tour isn't actually in Watford, it's a few hundred metres over the border into Three Rivers, although everyone keeps quiet about that.
» If £28 isn't enough, you can pay £55 for a combined entrance ticket plus coach travel from Victoria. For heaven's sake take the train and bus, it's much cheaper and much quicker. Or stay at home and read a good book.


<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>


click to return to the main page


...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
life viewed from london e3

email    twitter    G+

my flickr photostream

twenty blogs
853
arseblog
ian visits
londonist
scaryduck
blue witch
the great wen
onionbagblog
edith's streets
spitalfields life
linkmachinego
tired of london
in the aquarium
round the island
christopher fowler
thamesfacingeast
one bus at a time
ruth's coastal walk
london reconnections
uk general election 2015

read the archive
Dec14  Nov14  Oct14  Sep14
Aug14  Jul14  Jun14  May14
Apr14  Mar14  Feb14  Jan14
Dec13  Nov13  Oct13  Sep13
Aug13  Jul13  Jun13  May13
Apr13  Mar13  Feb13  Jan13
Dec12  Nov12  Oct12  Sep12
Aug12  Jul12  Jun12  May12
Apr12  Mar12  Feb12  Jan12
Dec11  Nov11  Oct11  Sep11
Aug11  Jul11  Jun11  May11
Apr11  Mar11  Feb11  Jan11
Dec10  Nov10  Oct10  Sep10
Aug10  Jul10  Jun10  May10
Apr10  Mar10  Feb10  Jan10
Dec09  Nov09  Oct09  Sep09
Aug09  Jul09  Jun09  May09
Apr09  Mar09  Feb09  Jan09
Dec08  Nov08  Oct08  Sep08
Aug08  Jul08  Jun08  May08
Apr08  Mar08  Feb08  Jan08
Dec07  Nov07  Oct07  Sep07
Aug07  Jul07  Jun07  May07
Apr07  Mar07  Feb07  Jan07
Dec06  Nov06  Oct06  Sep06
Aug06  Jul06  Jun06  May06
Apr06  Mar06  Feb06  Jan06
Dec05  Nov05  Oct05  Sep05
Aug05  Jul05  Jun05  May05
Apr05  Mar05  Feb05  Jan05
Dec04  Nov04  Oct04  Sep04
Aug04  Jul04  Jun04  May04
Apr04  Mar04  Feb04  Jan04
Dec03  Nov03  Oct03  Sep03
Aug03  Jul03  Jun03  May03
Apr03  Mar03  Feb03  Jan03
Dec02  Nov02  Oct02  Sep02
back to main page

diamond geezer 2013 index
diamond geezer 2012 index
diamond geezer 2011 index
diamond geezer 2010 index
diamond geezer 2009 index
diamond geezer 2008 index
diamond geezer 2007 index
diamond geezer 2006 index
diamond geezer 2005 index
diamond geezer 2004 index
diamond geezer 2003 index
diamond geezer 2002 index

my special London features
a-z of london museums
E3 - local history month
greenwich meridian (N)
greenwich meridian (S)
the real eastenders
london's lost rivers
olympic park 2007
great british roads
oranges & lemons
random boroughs
bow road station
high street 2012
river westbourne
trafalgar square
capital numbers
east london line
lea valley walk
olympics 2005
regent's canal
square routes
silver jubilee
cube routes
metro-land
capital ring
river fleet
piccadilly
bakerloo

ten of my favourite posts
the seven ages of blog
my new Z470xi mobile
five equations of blog
the dome of doom
chemical attraction
quality & risk
london 2102
single life
boredom
april fool

ten sets of lovely photos
my "most interesting" photos
london 2012 olympic zone
harris and the hebrides
betjeman's metro-land
marking the meridian
tracing the river fleet
london's lost rivers
inside the gherkin
seven sisters
iceland

just surfed in?
here's where to find...
diamond geezers
flash mob #1  #2  #3  #4
ben schott's miscellany
london underground
watch with mother
cigarette warnings
digital time delay
wheelie suitcases
war of the worlds
transit of venus
top of the pops
old buckenham
ladybird books
acorn antiques
digital watches
outer hebrides
olympics 2012
school dinners
pet shop boys
west wycombe
bletchley park
george orwell
big breakfast
clapton pond
san francisco
thunderbirds
routemaster
children's tv
east enders
trunk roads
amsterdam
little britain
credit cards
jury service
big brother
jubilee line
number 1s
titan arum
typewriters
doctor who
coronation
comments
blue peter
matchgirls
hurricanes
buzzwords
brookside
monopoly
peter pan
starbucks
feng shui
leap year
manbags
penelope
bbc three
vision on
piccadilly
meridian
concorde
wembley
islington
ID cards
bedtime
freeview
beckton
blogads
eclipses
letraset
arsenal
sitcoms
gherkin
calories
everest
muffins
sudoku
camilla
london
ceefax
robbie
becks
dome
BBC2
paris
lotto
118
itv