One of the perks of writing a blog is that every now and then I get offered freebies to review. Most of them I turn down as I don’t write a blog to bore you all with reviews of things you don’t need. But I rarely turn down the chance to take the kids to see the latest thing at Harry Potter Studios, just 15 minutes down the road.
This time, that latest thing is the rather spooky and realistic Forbidden Forest, a walk through re-creation of the forest that Harry & pals were strictly forbidden from entering by Hogwart’s headteacher Dumbledore. Now a note of warning here: if you’re at all on the slightly scared of spiders spectrum, you might want to skip this post. But for the brave of heart, read on!Opening exactly 5 years since the Studio Tour first opened in 2012, this latest addition to the Studio Tour is faithfully recreated with little expense spared – in typical Warner Bros fashion. Everything from the gargantuan trees, springy floor, subdued lighting and spooky sound effects does the job of making you feel just a tiny bit scared of what lies round the corner. Actually, that’s a lie – I was more than a tiny bit scared.
Not being a spider lover, I’m hardly going to run with glee into a place known for inhabiting its most infamous of hairy creatures, Aragog. I remember the first time I saw that beast of a creature, hanging above the section connecting the Mask workshop and Diagon Alley. As I walked through, eyes fixed firmly away from the beast, I quipped to the security guard standing below him that she had to have the worst job in London!
But fear not, trembling arachnaphobes! We were told that for those who were a little bit chicken, there is a specially created ‘chicken run’ i.e. a short cut-through past the part of the Forbidden Forest where Aragog hides. As I’d been given free tickets to review the attraction, I felt I really couldn’t take the chicken run, so I clung onto my eldest as we made our way under overhanging branches and giant spiders webs.
This is how I reacted when the tour guide flicked the switch for Aragog and her spiderlings to do their thing: (click on the squure icon to watch it in full view)
Yep, yours truly was the one doing the squawking! And yes, that IS a giant pretend spider moving towards you at the beginning – her name’s Aragog. Here she is. And she’s not to be messed with…
And here are some of her spiderlings descending towards us at an alarming rate!
Other creatures you’ll find in the forest are a standing Buckbeak the Hippogriff (the seated one is still in its original place) who bows to you and a Patronus who glows when you pull a lever. We could also ‘change the weather’ by turning knobs for thunder and lighting, and a bit of wind.
And then it was over. It’s not exactly a long feature, something the kids felt was the least good thing about it. Considering they had gone especially to see this feature it’s not surprising it felt a bit short. We felt that as an addition to the rest of the tour it is excellent, but we didn’t feel you’d want to go especially, unless you’re a big spider fan or simply love getting scared by giant descending spiders…. like my son.
They both said they thought the atmosphere was very realistic and eerie. The dim blue lighting and giant spider’s webs gave a great sense of foreboding, my daughter said. And she also liked the way Buckbeak slowly bows to you. My son liked changing the weather and the glowing Petronas. But undoubtedly the best feature was laughing at their mum’s reaction to the descending spiders. “Definitely the best bit!”
So, if you haven’t been to Harry Potter Tour for some years, I’d say its worth another trip not only for this spine-tingling escapade, but also for the splendid red train on Platform 9 3/4, and for spotting those brilliant details you missed the first. Here’s a priceless thing I’d never seen that is in the hall of the Dursley’s house, no 4 Privet Drive:
It was also quite fun to see that my son is now the exact same height as Harry & Ron in their first year at Hogwarts….
Ticket prices are a little higher than they were 5 years ago, but are still not too extortionate considering you will spend all day there (just don’t even think about the shop or you probably will go bankrupt!) Click here for prices.
The Forbidden Forest is open to visitors today, Friday 31 March 2017.
NB We were given complimentary entry to the preview event and all opinions in this review are entirely our own.