Sprinkle some Harry Potter magic on your school trip

Date Posted: 12/03/2013

The hugely popular Warner Bros. Studio Tour - The Making of Harry Potter can help you boost the enthusiasm and engagement across a number of school subjects - and it's a whole load of fun of course. Rob Yandell went to see how the magic of the movies was created.

They’ve camped through the night outside book stores and sat through eight motion pictures. Some have even attended premiers dressed as wizards. Now fans of the Harry Potter stories can take the tour spread out over 150,000 square feet at the Leavesden Studios near Watford in Hertfordshire.

In addition to the obvious fun children can have, school groups can tie-in Art & Design, English, and Film & Media study. Education packages can include a free hour lesson, and planning is aided with pre and post visit resource packs.

I'm sure it wouldn't be a hard sell as most children love Harry and his Hogwarts chums. And you will be glad to know that school rates are cheaper than the standard prices. Primary school groups cost £12.50 per pupil, with one teacher going free for every five students; secondary school groups cost £15 per ticket with one teacher place complimentary for every ten students in the party.

The Harry Potter movie magic started right here

It may be thousands of miles away from the Hollywood Hills, but the magic of Harry Potter was transformed from book to screen at Leavesden, and the multi-million pound tour and behind-the-scenes experience is now one of the country’s biggest tourist attractions. Tours are divided into 30-minute timeslots throughout the day to try and keep a steady flow of people.

A short film introduces you to the tour, featuring the stars of the movies, Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter), Emma Watson (Hermione Granger) and Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley). Emphasising that we’re in the spiritual home of the Harry Potter film series, it sets the tone before you are let loose on stage sets, prop displays, interactive special effects; all revealing the secrets behind the magic. And it’s authentic; you’re standing in the real Great Hall from Hogwarts (where you walk on the actual solid York stone laid over 11 years ago), seeing the real office of Professor Dumbledore, and walking along the real Diagon Alley.

Whether you’re a fan or not, it’s all truly impressive, very well done, and should hold the interest of both adults and children. Audio tours are available, but whether you opt for this or not, there’s fun to be had as you pull on your wizard robes and fly through the London skyline, all thanks to the latest digital technology. And of course, you can buy the photo of your experience before washing some cake down with Butter Beer (some link to the film I am told), and trawling the impressively stocked (although highly expensive) gift shop at the end of the tour. We’ve had great fun in the office trying the myriad of flavours in a packet of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans – watch out for the dirt and rotten egg flavours.

Of course, you can take your own photos and there are plenty of opportunities inside the sound stages and within an outside refreshment area where you can sit and relax and take photos of the Knight Bus from the Prisoner of Azkaban film, or 4 Privet Drive, where young Harry was plucked from in the very first story. A mention has to go to the tour staff, who were always on hand to take a photo and to offer stories and help, always smiled and made the experience all the more pleasurable.

Exclusive videos and Creature Effects workshop

Pupils will be able to watch a number of never-before-seen videos featuring interviews with the crew and cast, revealing some of the secrets behind the film making process. Your group will also be able to appreciate the spectacular animatronics and make-up designs within the Creature Effects workshop, which features iconic Harry Potter film creatures. I found these areas fascinating, although perhaps this section of the tour may hold more interest for older visitors, rather than young Harry Potter fans who I found more interested in the sets themselves.

Kids can also be kept amused by collecting stamps within their Harry Potter passport after completing a range of activities, and can tick off each time they find a hidden Golden Snitch (essential for a game of Quidditch) at different sets and stages throughout the tour.

There’s been much hype, but hats off (pointy ones) to the people behind the films and this tour.

School Travel Organiser's Guide