Fantastic Beasts: A Fantastic Tour

Mike Delaney

After attending Pottermore’s event to celebrate the upcoming release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, another invitation beckoned. This time, to attend Warner Bros. Studio Tours London for a special event to mark the upcoming film, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Fantastic Beasts is the first film set in the Harry Potter universe to not feature the eponymous Wizard as its star. Set some 70 years before the main Harry Potter films, Fantastic Beasts is neither prequel nor sequel, but another story set in the Wizarding World. It follows the adventures of Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), a magizoologist who travels to America with a case full of magical creatures. The film is very loosely based on the companion book of the same name.

Fantastic Beasts station

The Tour

Arriving at the Studio Tour, guests are immediately greeted with an atrium decked out with pictures of the cast looking down on them from on high. Harry, Ron, and Hermione are all present at various ages, along with Dumbledore, Snape, Draco, and others. In one corner, the magical flying Ford Anglia is suspended. Near the tour entrance is Harry’s cupboard under the stairs.

A drinks reception kicked off the evening (sadly no wittily-named cocktails like last time) before we moved onto the tour itself. Laid out before us were the dreams of every Harry Potter fan: costumes and props from all eight films. Recreations of key locales like the Gryffindor Boys’ Dormitory, Dumbledore’s office and the Weasley’s kitchen in the Burrow were on display, as were racks of costumes for virtually every character and displays of important props like the Horcruxes and the Triwizard Cup.

Any Harry Potter fan who has been on the tour knows how magical it is. The sense of grandeur in some of the set designs, the feel of being in that world, is overwhelming. It’s one thing to see it on screen, or in books, but to be there in that environment makes you appreciate the hard work and care that goes into making the Wizarding World a reality. And this is reflected when you are confronted with the Hogwarts Express, sitting at the station waiting to whisk students off to Hogwarts. The occasional puffs of steam and the train’s whistle add to the illusion that you could climb aboard and leave the Muggle world behind.

The Trailer

With the tour portion concluded, we retired to a small cinema seating area where we were shown the new trailer for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. At this point, only the attendees in Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con had seen it. It was about as exclusive as exclusive gets without being at Comic-Con.

The reaction to the trailer was, as you would expect, universally loved. Cheers and applause for the trailer echoed around the small room as excited fans soon realized that they would once more step into the Wizarding World. But who are these new characters that will lead us off into a new adventure? And who were the actors behind the characters?

The Great Hall

From there, we entered the Great Hall, which had been arranged to allow for a studio audience type feel. Rows of benches were lined down the center and on each bench were free Newt Scamander wands for everyone. We were to be directly linked to San Diego Comic-Con where members of the cast and crew of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — Eddie Redmayne, Colin Farrell, Ezra Miller, Dan Fogler, Katherine Waterston, Alison Sudol, David Yates and David Heyman — conducted a short Q and A session with fans from both the US and the audience in London. The entire program was aired live on Facebook and was hosted by Edith Bowman in the UK, and Ben Lyons in the US.

Fandom would like to thank Pottermore for extending the invite to join them at the event, and to Warner Bros. Studio Tours London for an unforgettable experience.

Mike Delaney
Star Wars fan and general pop culture addict. Only two beverages worth drinking are tea and whisky.