JK Rowling had a disagreement with Steven Speilberg! And are we all glad she did! Harry Potter was always destined to have a British cast, with British filming, which meant one thing – a chance to have a true Harry Potter experience, a Muggle tour of the filming locations around London (don’t worry there are no spoilers in this review).
After looking around the internet we found an offering, an ‘award-winning’ tour, which promised to uncover the filming locations and to give behind the scenes stories named Tour for Muggles. The website looked great, fun and displayed the prices clearly. We booked on line and chose a date and starting time.
We had booked online and made our way to the start of the muggle tour, the instructions we were sent after booking and were easy to follow. We used a bus and got off on London Bridge, making our way to the South bank and towards the London Bridge tube station. As we got to a busy road, with a central crossing island in the middle under a bridge, there stood in a bright blue coat, wearing the colours of Slytherin, was a man stood with Harry Potter glasses on and a red folder under his arm.
This was obviously our guide and we went to say hello. He was happy, welcoming and introduced himself as Luke Lestrange it was obvious straight from the off he was full of Harry Potter passion as his introduction was loud, funny and engaging.
Once checked in we waited for the remaining few muggles, who promptly came along (after a spell was cast). There we stood, with a grown man, in the middle of London with him shouting Harry Potter facts at us. We were all smiling and the whole group were engaged. We were asked for our house and told that points would be awarded, this was going to be an interactive tour, not just a stand and follow. Once all the tour guide rules had been complete we were off.
Now we are not going to spoil the tour in this review but what we can say was there was walking, a tube journey (make sure you have your payment/Oyster card sorted) more walking, lot of smiles, lots of trivia and many ‘Ohhhh’ moments.
We started right on London Bridge making our way to JK Rowlings inspirational places, where we could see the descriptions of her Diagon Alley in our muggle world and even the buildings used, such as the Leaky Cauldron right in front of us. The tour carried on with trivia about the night bus and the use of the local names of buildings and streets all forming part of the story line.
A loop around by the river, where stories of the filming in St Pauls Cathedral made us realise just how massive this film really was. More wandering, with trivia, with more sights and stories about the use of bridges, derelict buildings and even ships put into the stories made this part of the tour fascinating and fun. The use of house points, giving them to the different houses to get people involved in the trivia was impressive (go Gryffindor!) and it sorted out the geeks from the Potterheads (make sure you know your spells – there was some serious competition.)
After a short tube trip, with more trivia to keep people engaged on the journey, the reasoning behind the names used and the characters, we arrived at Westminster. Where we again had our guide Luke telling us about how big a deal Potter was when they closed down stations and the film was discussed in the Houses of Parliament.
Our tour continued, looping around toward Westminster Bridge along the river and back toward Downing Street, where the minstry of magic, entrances and iconic footage was pointed out.
The filming and changing of the buildings, the use of fake bridges, the complete remodeling of historic brickwork, the removal of lamp posts and additions of street furniture to make the filming a success and in fitting with the book were shown. Our Muggle guide, Luke used his red folder, showing us the scenes from the film, where we were stood so we could see what had been done.
Our Muggle tour took us around impressive buildings, back alleys and even into hidden gaps, where more inspiration for the books could clearly be seen. The more we wondered the more we found out, the depth of knowledge and the level of enthusiasm kept us all wanting to know more and not wanting the tour to finish.
We ended two and a bit hours later in Cecil Court, just off Charing Cross Road where we were treated with the final facts and history of the books, publishing and some JK Rowling facts before we were let loose.
The tour was brilliant, our muggle guide Luke was fantastic and everyone clearly enjoyed the tour. From the ease of booking, the choice of meeting spot, the small size of the group and the knowledge passed, this whole tour was well worth the cost and it is a must for any Potter fan.
After the tour
Being that we had all just been given a behind the scenes tour, our heads filling with all the trivia we did not want to just end it there. Luke pointed out a few stops to do just so that we could visit a gift shop or two, all within walking distance from the end of the tour.
Our first stop was to The Noble Collection, Neal Street where the sword of Gryffindor could be purchased and all sorts of mystical magic figures and wands could be bought.
Another short walk, taking us around the theater where the play Harry Potter and the cursed child was playing took us to another stop recommended by our guide. It was House of MinaLima, Greek Street. This is well worth a visit as this is where all the prints and paperwork are on display. From the Daily Prophet and the Quibbler to all the famous wanted posters – again copies can be bought. This is a tiny shop, but there is a tour that takes small number of guests over 3 floors to learn how much work was put into the art and print used in the films. Again well worth the effort.
If you plan your day you really will be able to get your Harry Potter fix and discover a new love for the books, the films and of course London.