The Gaurdian: As all good students of the Harry Potter saga know well, Muggles are not usually allowed at Hogwarts school of witchcraft of wizardry. However, a new exhibition will soon give those not gifted with magical powers the chance to see some of the famous Potter film sets, such as the Great Hall and Dumbledore's office, for themselves.
The Harry Potter tour is opening in spring 2012 at Leavesden studios near Watford, where the film series was shot between 2000 and last year. Over the course of three hours, visitors will view original sets, costumes, props and effects that were used in all eight movies, from 2001's Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to this year's Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
Highlights include a recreation of the giant spider Aragog suspended from the ceiling, and the opportunity to pose for photographs in one of the "flying" Ford Anglia cars used in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. Buckbeak the Hippogriff is also said to be making an appearance.
Potter fans in the US have been able to visit Universal Studios' The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park since June last year in Orlando, Florida, but the new tour offers the chance for British Muggles to take a look inside JK Rowling's world for the first time without getting on a plane.
Leavesden remains a working studio – in fact it will be one of Europe's largest production centres for film when it reopens as Warner Bros Studios, Leavesden next year. "We have an amazing resource in this country which is tens of thousands of incredibly talented film technicians, film-makers, writers and actors," Josh Berger, the head of Warner Brothers UK, told the BBC.
The studio announced its decision to buy the facility, which sits on the site of the former Rolls-Royce factory at Leavesden Aerodrome, last year. It will make Warner Bros the only Hollywood film studio with a permanent base in the UK, and the company's £100m ($154 million) investment will create a facility that is larger than Warner's lot in Burbank, California.
The new Potter tour has received the enthusiastic backing of some of Hogwarts' former pupils. "It was such a magical place to grow up," said Daniel Radcliffe, who played Potter in all eight films. "People will be amazed to see the incredible sets that we've worked in all these years."
"I had the time of my life making these films at Leavesden studios," said Emma Watson, who played Hermione. "It's so wonderful that it's still going to be around for years to come."
Tickets for the new tour must be ordered in advance and will go on sale on 13 October at the price of £21 ($32.50) per child, £28 ($43) per adult and £83 ($128) for a family of four. Warner says around 5,000 visitors will be able to visit the facility on any given day.