Although it officially opens for the public on March 31st, I was very lucky to be invited along with many others, to an exclusive preview of the Forbidden Forest! This marked my eighth visit to the studios, and probably the best visit so far!
As soon as you entered the Forbidden Forest, the atmosphere became darker and it felt real, the studios were incredibly successful in making the forest feel as daunting as it looks in the films! The trees were HUGE, no picture I took could honestly do justice to how amazingly daunting they looked – although artificial, the studios did an amazing job at making them look as real as the films (although, I expected nothing less!) Everything about it seemed so real, and I had goose bumps walking through the forest but I was lucky enough that unlike Harry, I didn’t have any unexpected encounters…
When you first enter the Forbidden Forest, you are greeted by “none other than our own, Rubeus Hagrid!” Now I knew he was tall, but WOW. Until you greet Hagrid at the forest, you do not appreciate just how tall he is! As you walk along, you really begin to notice the detail that has been put into the forest, especially with the mushrooms that had been added to the bottom of the trees to give you an extra feeling for the forest – the attention to detail was out of this world, and it truly makes you appreciate the amount of work, effort and time that gets put into this in film-making! Once you’ve spent ages admiring the details of the tree, you come across one of my favourite creatures in the entire film series – Buckbeak the Hippogriff! To those that have visited the studios before, you will know that Buckbeak is sat just before Diagon Alley – however, the Buckbeak you encounter in the Forbidden Forest is much more interactive! The one in the forest is animatronic, which means he bows to visitors – luckily, my encounter was more like Harry’s as I received a bow back, rather than being hit like Draco! For me, this was one of the best parts of the tour and the photo/video opportunities make it a day to remember! In this part of the tour, you can choose whether you want ‘day’ or ‘night’ mode, and it is magnificent to see Buckbeak in the different lights!
The next part of the tour is one for the braver witches and wizards (Gryffindor’s, this ones for you!) As you walk through a dark (ish) tunnel guided by a lovely member of staff, you begin to see cobwebs above you – which, when explained by a member of staff, you soon find out that it is made out of fish wire! Once this part has been explained and walked through, you are soon greeted by the one and only, Aragog! There is a button on the other side of where Aragog is and once pressed, he rises up from the depths of the forest and when you look above – just like the classic ‘Harry!’ scene that Ron shouts, his children surround you (but don’t worry, they do not come close enough to be scary!) However, if you don’t think you could manage this bit (which is totally fine!) there is a less scary, spider free path to walk through!
Before you hit the end of the Forbidden Forest, there is a perfect opportunity to learn how the Expecto Patronum spell was created! Unfortunately I didn’t own a wand until after I finished my eighth visit where I bought one, however if you do own a wand, this is the perfect place to stop and pose for a picture with it as it looks like you’re casting your own patronus! On that topic, what’s yours? Mine is a Manx Cat!
All in all, this was an incredible experience and I cannot thank those at the studio tour enough for inviting me! It really does feel like you’re walking through a real forest, the atmosphere is just how you see it in the films! I also love the fact that if you’re afraid of spiders, you can cut that bit out and avoid seeing any spiders – because it would be ashame if someone had to cut the forest bit out of their tour out of fear of seeing them! The Forbidden Forest officially opens on March 31st and you can purchase tickets here.
If you want more pictures of the Forbidden Forest and the tour in general, head over to my Instagram, ‘nevillescardigan’ for more! I’d love to hear your thoughts, have you been before? Are you going to see the Forbidden Forest? Favourite part of the tour or part you’re most looking forward to?