Leavesden Studios, a former aircraft manufacturing facility has been the base for one of the most popular fantasy film franchises of all time.
Now that production on the series has ended, the Warner Bros Studio Tour at Leavesden Studios has opened and is enjoying thousands of daily visitors.
It’s a walkthrough exhibition featuring sets, props, costumes, creatures and secrets used to make the movies.
You must book tickets in advance for a specific day and time.
Read more about the attraction here.
Many of the sets used in filming were set up permanently in the cavernous buildings around Leavesden Studios.
When the series started filming, no-one (including J.K.Rowling herself, possibly) knew how the Harry Potter series would develop. It was a very simple decision for the production team on the movies to keep ALL of the sets, props and costumes that were made, so that they could be re-used in future movies when necessary.
After the first film, a section of Privet Drive was built on the backlot, Dumbledore’s study, the Great Hall and many other sets were set up and left in place. Hagrid’s hut was also built on the backlot for ‘Order of the Phoenix’.
Although many parts of Harry Potter’s world are either digitally created, or are intricate models, the full-scale sets were the most cost-effective way to portray the locations J.K.Rowling had created. The footage of the models is shot either at Leavesden or at various special effects companies around the world. The actors are filmed against green-screen at Leavesden and then digitally composited with the model or other digital material to produce the final images we see in theaters.
There are also many real-world locations used by the Harry Potter series.
Privet Drive was originally filmed on location, but was recreated on the backlot at Leavesden so that complex special effects shots could be achieved easily.
Among the many other locations are:
- Alnwick Castle, Northumberland (Hogwarts in the first two movies)
- Australia House, London (Gringotts Bank in the first movie – recreated at Leavesden for the last film).
- Black Park, Oxfordshire (Hagrid’s hut location in first two movies, Hagrid & dragons in ‘Goblet of Fire’, Hogsmeade Station in ‘Order of the Phoenix’)
- Christchurch College, Oxford (Hogwarts dining hall, Hogwarts staircase, cloisters).
- Divinity College, Oxford (Hogwarts hospital)
- Glencoe, Scotland (Hogwarts grounds in ‘Prisoner of Azkaban’)
- Harrow School (Flitwick’s classroom in 2nd movie)
- Kings Cross Station (there’s a photo opportunity by a wall signposted Platform 9?).
- Lacock Abbey (Various sequences in the first two movies)
- Gloucester Cathedral (various sequences in the first two movies)
- Westminster tube station, London (visiting Ministry of Magic in Order of the Phoenix)
- London taxi tour of many of the above locations
- There’s a display of props and costumes from the Harry Potter world at the Warner Bros. VIP Studio Tour in Hollywood, California, and the amazing Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park at Universal Studios Orlando in Florida.
The Making of Harry Potter exhibition at Leavesden Studios is, however, the only place to see most of the authentic sets and props used in the films.