On Thursday 4th April, we were lucky enough to be invited into the wizarding world of Harry Potter to attend the opening of the Gringotts Bank expansion at Warner Brother’s Studios, before it officially opened to the public on Saturday 6th April.
After handing in our tickets, we walked into the brand-new lobby and were immediately stunned to see a magnificent Ukrainian Ironbelly (or a dragon to any of you mortals) from Deathly Hallows Part One hanging from the roof – I was already impressed, and the tour hadn’t even started yet!
Then it was time to enter the tour! The entrance has also had a significant makeover, with quotes from J.K Rowling, a timeline of the Harry Potter films and official artwork masking the walls – including a life size Harry, Ron and Hermione from The Philosopher’s Stone – perfect for a selfie. The tour, as always, started in the Great Hall. After a short video the screen lifted to unveil the giant, familiar doors, once opened you’re left speechless, staring at the magnificent Great Hall:
“Ooh, this is where the sorting hat was!” my colleague exclaimed on entry, excited to have remembered the hall from a scene in The Philosopher’s Stone.
We then explored the Gryffindor Common Room, Dumbledore’s Office, the Potions Classroom, The Burrow, Hagrid’s Hut and The Forbidden Forest before stopping to sample a Butterbeer in the Backlot Café. Afterwards, you walk out onto Privet Drive and Godric’s Hollow before entering the Magical Creature Department and eventually find yourself at the start of Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
The Gringotts Wizarding Bank expansion begins by taking you through the hair, make-up, prosthetics and special effects required to create the notorious Gringotts Goblins (including models of Warwick Davis as Griphook). You are then met by an immeasurable, elegant and awe-inspiring set, the sheer scale of Gringotts is simply indescribable. At 16,500sqft it is the biggest expansion to date at Warner Brother’s Studios Tour London and it is absolutely gorgeous, it definitely took me breath away.
Once we managed to tear ourselves away from the banking hall we continued down to the depths of the Lestrange Vault. Used to store the treasures of Bellatrix Lestrange, it was overflowing (as you’d expect) with sparkling treasures and Hufflepuff Cups. There was even enough time for a photo opportunity ‘inside’ the vault.
The final part of the Gringotts experience is a real showstopper – I’d go as far as saying that it’s the best part of the tour…
Turn a corner and step into a ruined set, Gringotts Wizarding Bank has been destroyed. Surrounded by wreckage of desks and pillars, there’s a broken chandelier barely hanging and an eerie atmosphere (thanks to a smoke machine). After a few seconds you begin to hear thumbs coming from the behind the wreckage, and suddenly the clinking of the glass chandelier as it begins to shake. In the distance, you can see a huge creature emerge – none other than the Ukrainian Ironbelly (which escaped in Deathly Hallows Part One) The dragon gives a tremendous roar, before covering the set in flames! You can easily watch this several times and be impressed each time you see it!
To see our range of Harry Potter tour dates please visit our wesbite: http://www.skills.co.uk/search/results?s=harry%20potter
Written by our designer Louise Smith who attended the opening of Gringotts Bank at the Harry Potter Studios.