Ever been to The Magical World of Harry Potter at Leavesden Studios? Whether you have or you haven’t, you’re in for a treat. Stroll around the corner from Borgin and Burke’s, past the Ministry of Magic statue in the Dark Arts exhibit, and there’s a shining new addition for you to meet.
The Hogwarts Express has finally pulled into Platform 9 3/4, and some very lucky competition winners and I are running through a magical wall to see it before the rest of the Muggle world.
There are audible gasps of excitement as the shutters roll away to reveal a mysterious corridor (The Department of Mysteries almost springs to mind) and the hissing sounds of a steam engine echo from a secret station that’s waiting just a little further down the line.
The sign for Platform 9 3/4 looms overhead and as we chug excitedly towards it there’s a tiny hint of Dementor-induced dread. When you’ve been waiting almost 20 years to hop aboard that magical train to Hogwarts your hopes are rather high.
Any speculative trepidation is well and truly sorted as we stroll through the arch and onto Harry Potter’s magical platform, where the original Hogwarts Express is shining, steaming and screaming in all its crimson glory.
And to make things even more magical, we’ve been given the first tickets to ride on a magical trip down movie memory lane.
Each of the little cabins are perfectly preserved, taking us – much like Kennilworthy Whisp’s iconic Quidditch title – through the ages, from Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone all the way to The Deathly Hallows.
From Lavender Brown’s iconic declaration of train window love for her “Won Won” to the tattered suitcases and empty sweet wrappers, everything is exactly as Harry, Ron and Hermione left it. You’d be forgiven for thinking they’d just nipped off to the loo.
A little further down the surprisingly narrow corridor there’s even an opportunity to have a sneak peek at the mouth-watering train trolley. From pumpkin pasties to chocolate frogs, it’s teeming with magical treats we’d love to eat.
Some of the delightful delicacies are on offer in the station shop, which sits beside a trio of magical wall-shattering trolleys. It’s impossible to resist giving one a good push – I’m finally catching up with my fellow flame-haired Weasley folk after all these years.
After taking a run at each trolley I’m feeling just a tad tired so a rather plush row of familiar looking seats in the far corner don’t take long to catch my eye.
Putting your feet up in the comfort of a Hogwarts Express cabin isn’t a bad way to take the weight off: the fact that you can watch the wizarding world fly by outside your window is an added bonus.
Everyone’s a little sad when it’s time to depart. Don’t get me wrong, walking through the Great Hall excites us all but the Hogwarts Express really succeeds in impressing, almost blowing Diagon Alley out of the wizarding water.
The Studio Tour, much like train travel, may not come cheap, but when the journey is this enchanting, it’s still worth considering making the leap.
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour Hogwarts Express expansion officially opens to the public at Leavesden Studios on Thursday March 19th.