This weekend is Valentine's Day weekend, and I managed to book tickets to a special Valentine's Day dinner in the Great Hall from the Harry Potter set at Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London. The event was held on both evenings at the weekend and was capped at 100 people per evening. That's fifty couples. It sold out in minutes, so we were lucky to get a place.
The evening started with a drinks reception with small nibbles, which included prawns, rice balls, and vegetable tarts. The drinks on offer included normal Prosecco, a red raspberry Prosecco (which was slightly pink in colour) or a cocktail made with Vodka, cranberry juice, tonic water, and other ingredients which was dubbed by staff as "Love Potion". After having a few of these while we waited for about an hour in the lobby, we were let into the Great Hall.
Harry Potter's bedroom at Privet Drive set in the lobby
The Great Hall was decorated for Valentine's Day with pinkish-purple lighting cast onto the walls and seating on both sides and down the middle of the hall. We were sat toward the front of the hall in the middle row with the Gryffindor and Slytherin costumes on either side. The tables were decorated with lights and white flowers.
Door to Great Hall
Our meal included a white roll with butter, a starter each, a main course each, a trio of desserts to share, and wine and water that was topped up. The white wine was a good quality and easy-going wine, but I don't enjoy wine much anymore. The choice of meals were limited with a standard option and a vegetarian option. I had the vegetarian option, and the bloke had the standard option.
The standard starter was salmon mousse, and the vegetarian one was grilled artichoke hearts with beetroot carpaccio.
The main courses were lamb rack with potato fondant, grilled asparagus and red wine jus. The vegetarian option was goat cheese and potato gnocchi and baked squash with pumpkin seed oil. Throughout the meal, we were served red and white wine which was topped up when required.
For dessert, we shared the following: classic lemon tart, champagne and strawberry panacotta, and chocolate pave with pistachio crumb and Chantilly cream. I was not keen on the panacotta, but that was the bloke's favourite, and he didn't like the lemon tart, which I did enjoy. We shared the chocolate dessert, which was also nice.
We enjoyed our food, but I think they missed a trick with the desserts. They could have easily done some little touches for Valentine's Day and/or use 'Harry Potter' themes. It would have felt more special if they had.
The sorting hat
After we finished our meal, we went to the front of the Great Hall to look at the costumes and to see the sorting hat on display here. (The sorting hat was in the Dumbledore set last time we visited.) Then, we carried through to have a quick glance at the other sets, but I won't be posting many photographs here. (If you're interested, take a look at my blog post Off to Hogwarts...Harry Potter Studio Tour where you can see photographs.) A few areas toward the back of the exhibition had changed with the removal of Umbridge's office and the inclusion of an area about the Death Eaters and the long table used in the last films with Snape and Voldermort. The sets were all quiet, so it was great to walk around without so many people like on our visit in 2012.
Also new to the tour is the Platform 9 3/4 and a replica King's Cross with a working train. People could have their photo taken at Platform 9 3/4 and walk inside the train carriage sets that were used in the films. We spent some time here to have a look around and get some photographs taken. We also received a free drink in this area, which was the same that we had at dinner.
After this, we walked into the area where Butterbeer could be bought. Last time we visited, this was a small stand with a massive queue outside and open to the elements. They moved this around a bit and build a special larger area for guests to sit and eat. Our access included a freee glass of butterbeer and the cup it came in. We both agreed that the butterbeer tasted a little different this time and was not as nice as we remembered the first time we visited.
After this, we walked through the outside sets, through the creature area, and we had Diagon Alley virtually to ourselves. We got a few photographs before walking toward the large-scale model of the Hogwarts castle. On the way, we saw a golden snitch.
At the model of the castle, we were offered teas and coffees and chocolates. I think they should have had a selection of chocolates instead of just the white truffle ones for those who dislike white chocolate. Unfortunately, we had to rush through this as the time just flew. We had two hours after eating our meal in order to walk around. We rushed through the gift shop and then picked up our wands. Each guest had the option to pick out a wand from one of the main characters. I got Hermione's wand, and the bloke got Dumbledore's.
Dumbledore's and Hermione's wands
Overall, it was a good evening, and it was great to see the tour with so few people around, however, I would have appreciated a little more time at the tour and a little less time waiting in the lobby at the beginning. I am glad that we've been before so we only needed to look at the new areas.