• Transform magazine
  • October 14, 2019

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Movie magic reimagined in world of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio Tour

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For Potterheads worldwide, there are few things more magical than visiting the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden. The brand experience is one of the only immersive attractions that brings JK Rowling’s world to life. Like the gold standard in brand experience, Disneyland, the studio tour attracts hordes of Harry Potter fans who make the pilgrimage to northwest London to tour the soundstages used in the making of the franchise’s eight films.

Making the experience even more magical is interiors consultancy Lumsden Design, which has introduced new retail and dining experiences to the attraction. The studio tour offers visitors the opportunity to imagine themselves in the world of Hogwarts, by offering food and drink from the series, and providing hands-on activities throughout the tour. But its retail and repast spaces were not built into the brand experience as much as they could be. The bigges offender was the entrance café that offered little more than the feeling of a busy cafeteria.

The new offers have been so carefully crafted because the studio tour itself provides more than simply an insight into the making of the films, it is Harry Potter in real life. That brand experience was important to retain across the entire attraction. James Dwyer, design director at Lumsden, says, “For a project like this, it’s important to understand that storytelling doesn’t start or stop with the tour. It starts the moment the visitor arrives and permeates all spaces from café to retail and beyond.”

Thus, Lumsden – which has worked with the tour since its opening – has developed and updated three cafés and expanded the retail space by a third. The new spaces further immerse visitors into the magic of Harry Potter. The Chocolate Frog Café, for example, is shaped like a giant, purple and gold, chocolate frog box – originally devised for the screen by the artists at MinaLima. The Food Hall has been transformed from a nondescript space into a vibrant replica of the Hogwarts Great Hall, complete with floating candles crafted by the original set builders.

As part of the updated retail experiences, a shockingly pale green sweet shop has been built into the main store, while Ollivanders wand shop has been introduced, along with a new design shop full of newsprint from the franchise’s Daily Prophet publication, in addition to other concessions further deepening the connection between the store itself and the brand experience.

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