This festive season, film fans are invited to discover how special effects experts make snow that never melts, how set dressers transform locations for Christmas scenes, and how flames are created without fire, as Warner Bros. Studio Tour London opens the doors on its most magical makeover yet.
Launching on Friday 13th November and running for a limited time only, Hogwarts in the Snow will offer visitors the opportunity to see the Harry Potter film series’ most iconic sets decorated for festive scenes. Eight Christmas trees will line the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room will be dressed for the season and a blanket of filmmaking snow will be meticulously applied to the majestic Hogwarts castle model.
In the Hogwarts Great Hall, visitors will spot wreaths and garlands, trees decked with golden baubles and topped with witches on miniature broomsticks, as well as a replica feast. One side of the Great Hall will be dedicated to savoury props, featuring roast turkeys, hams studded with cherries and bowls of potatoes, while the other will be devoted to sweet treats including flaming Christmas puddings and iced cakes.
For the first time this year, the Goblet of Fire will emerge from its original jewelled casket, rigged by special effects experts, and will be ‘lit’ with flames that change from blue to red. Featured in the fourth film, the impressive goblet was used as a way to select champions for the Triwizard Tournament. During production, the picture-perfect hero version was sculpted from a single piece of wood by the Prop Making Department, while a special effects replica was moulded in fibreglass and painted to look identical to its wooden counterpart.
The Hogwarts castle model will be transformed for the occasion by a team led by Model Effects Supervisor José Granell, who worked on the Harry Potter film series. The snow is hand-sprinkled onto the incredibly-detailed model and is made from a combination of granulated paper and grains of salt – chosen because it clumps like real snowflakes and catches the light like ice. Visitors will be able to touch samples of the different types of ‘snow’ used during production, each selected for its ability to float like falling snow, crunch under foot or glisten in the light.
The scale model was first built for Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, with a team of 80 model makers working for almost seven months to create the original version. The crew updated it over the years when the story required it (the bridge was added for Prisoner of Azkaban, the Owlery forGoblet of Fire, and the Astronomy Tower for Half-Blood Prince), and the model was used for nearly every exterior shot of Hogwarts seen in the first six Harry Potter films. The specialist work was so detailed that it would have taken one person more than 74 years to complete!
Fireplaces throughout the attraction (including those in the Leaky Cauldron and Great Hall) will be ‘lit’ with special effects fire, created by filmmakers using a combination of water vapour and lighting effects. The Gryffindor common room and Weasley kitchen will also be dressed for the occasion with streamers, Christmas crackers and oranges.
^0^ The food featured in the feasts throughout the early films was real; however, the Set Decoration Department later used artificial food created from powder and resin.
^0^ While the film series’ Christmas scenes feel very festive, many of them were actually filmed at unexpected times of year (even during summer) depending on the production schedule.
^0^ Christmas puddings were rigged with real flames for the Great Hall’s Christmas feast, with gas pipes hidden along the floor and running up into the tables. This special effect will be recreated at the Studio Tour this year, especially for the attraction’s festive feature.
Hogwarts in the Snow will run from Friday 13th November – Sunday 31st January 2016. Tickets must be pre-booked and all extra activities are included in the ticket price.