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  • Writer's pictureJon Bolitho-Jones

You Must Love Harry Potter...

A lot of you might know that I used to work in quite an interesting place. It was the place where I met my wonderful wife along with lots of other delightful people. A funny location where people turn up dressed as wizards waving wands above their heads. I am talking of course about none other than the Warner Brothers Studio Tour London: The Making of Harry Potter. I spent about 3 years working there, stopping only for holidays and to disappear off to do acting jobs. Like any other job I have hundreds of memories of the place – good, bad, and some that are downright bizarre. I going to share some of these with you here though I haven’t worked there for a couple of years now so things may well have changed. In fact I haven’t visited since my last shift. Still I thought I would take the time to reveal to you some interesting little secrets from my time there. Don’t worry there aren’t spoilers for those planning to go.

1. Despite being called the Warner Bros Studio Tour London, it isn’t actually found in London. Rather it is in Leavesden, a little place just beyond Watford in Hertfordshire. We always found that a bit weird but oh well.

2. The people you see standing around there are called Interactors. Please talk to them, that’s why they are there. They love to talk, makes the day go far quicker, especially if you’re nice.

3. There’s a short cinema section right at the beginning of the tour. Some of the staff members have seen it so many times they can recite it without thinking, or even in their sleep.

4. The tour was originally much smaller than it is now. There was no platform, forest, or bank. It was just sound stages J and K, named like that, well you know cos of the famous person who wrote the books. A little joke.

5. The Harry Potter passport things are intended for kids. However, if you do ask someone very nicely they will probably get you one. Just remember to say please and thank you. It also helps if only put the one page at a time into the stamp machines and then push down hard. You get a far, far better result.

6. Butterbeer, it’s not for everyone. I hate to use the comparison (as currently I am undecided) but it’s like Marmite. You either love it or you hate it. I originally really liked it, but then over the years I gradually changed my mind. The Butterbeer ice cream though is very good.

7. One of the most common questions I got from visitors was “You must have to love Harry Potter to work here?”. The answer being no. It’s like any other job really. It does help to be a fan of course but personally I much prefer the Lord of the Rings. My wife however is a huge Potterhead.

8. If the staff were to rate the expansions that have appeared over the years they would rate them the following, from best to worst. 1. The bank, 2. the forest, 3. the station, and 4. Privet Drive.

9. Yes all the things you see there were used in the films. Well almost, there have been some recreations added over the years. Also yes, the train at the station is a real locomotive and the one used for the films – exterior shots of course. And no, there are no rides here, you’re thinking about the one at the Universal Studios theme park.

10. Out of the features done over the years most staff members enjoyed Animal Actors week the most. There were kittens, owls, dogs, snakes, a toad, and my favourites, the ravens. They are a bit cheeky and like to steal treats when their trainers aren’t looking.

11. My favourite feature was Dark Arts cos I got to dress up as a Death Eater and interact, somewhat in character, with visitors. Staff members especially loved all the features where they got to dress up.

12. Funny thing, while I’m on Death Eaters we had a mannequin version called Derek. One day though, after rushing off defeated from a child, I accidentally knocked into him and his head fell off. I then had to spend around 10 minutes covering him up in character, whilst trying to get a nearby Interactor over to reattach his head. All of which I had to do without talking.

13. The silliest question I was ever asked was by a family who had just entered Diagon Alley. They turned to me and asked – “Where’s Diagon Alley?” to which I replied by gesturing madly around myself.

14. When you get to the Creature’s department, after the backlot, ask an Interactor about Luna’s foot. Luna’s foot…

15. The place you visit for the tour is actually a real film studios. Not the parts that you go through, but if you look in the near distance at the other buildings around them you’ll see the active parts of the studio. Sometimes you might even see a full blown outdoor set if you look hard enough. Thing is we never knew exactly what was being filmed…

16. Finally, not necessarily related to the tour, but Deadpool was a Huffelpuff.

Anyway that is all I can think of at the moment. I can’t put everything down, but if you would like to know more you can always send me a message on Twitter. I'm @JonBolithoJones. I may even do another entry like this in the future about a different well know attraction – the London Dungeons. It has some interesting secrets and stories too. And yes I do seem to work everywhere…

With that it's bye for now. I'll be back soon.


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