In a similar way to the Doctor Who Experience- albeit on a much, much larger scale- you start the tour with a guide who takes you through part of the tour and then you're free to explore and take your time (and as many photos as you like) with the rest of the exhibits.
One of the guided sections of the tour is the Hogwarts Great Hall:
(If you're wondering why there are Christmas trees and other decorations around, the site was still decorated for Hogwarts In The Snow)
Once through the Great Hall, you're at leisure to look around the exhibits, which not only include props and costumes and replica sets, but also feature interviews with the screenwriters, directors and effects staff who explain exactly how things were made. It's a fascinating glimpse behind the curtain, as it were.
|Gryffindor Common Room|
The second part of the tour is more behind-the-scenes again, where the creature designers and prosthetic make-up teams divulge a few secrets. If, like me, you're a bit afraid of spiders, I'll warn you now- they do have a large scale model of Aragog on display. They also have the Basilisk, several dragons and Buckbeak the Hippogriff.
After the creature shop, it's a headlong plunge into a faithfully recreated Diagon Alley which is simply breath-taking:
After Diagon Alley, you get to see some of the original concept designs for several sets and props which is just sublime and can listen to interviews with several members of the team responsible. The level of detail is just immense, and the tour ends with a major surprise which I certainly wouldn't want to spoil for anyone. Make sure you've got plenty of battery left on your camera and plenty of space because it's a real doozy.
If you do go, give yourself plenty of time to enjoy and soak in everything. It's a real cinephile's dream. Fans of the Harry Potter franchise will be in seventh heaven here- I certainly was- but even if you're not a massive fan but like to know how films are made, there's plenty to hold your attention.
I loved it; I would recommend it to anyone and I would love to go back again.
For information about the tour, click here.