Opened in March 2017, the Forbidden Forest set has fast become a favourite exhibit for Harry Potter fans young and old, but you’ll need to screw your courage to the sticking place and have wands at the ready if you want to venture inside!
When it comes to a fully immersive, spooktacular experience that surrounds you in magic, mystery and gives you a few little shocks and scares for good measure, you can’t beat the Warner Bros Studio Tours Forbidden Forest.
Merlin’s beard! The second you walk up to the exhibit the magic starts to envelop you, just like the swirling mists that seem to pull you in through the auspiciously tall and overbearing metal gates. Hagrid greets you on the left, lantern in hand, but even he doesn’t dare to go in further, so you’re on your own!
With wands at the ready and ‘Lumos!’ on the tip of your tongue, you start the slow and cautious walk along the twisting-and-turning forest floor, while being constantly flanked by enormous trees. The question is, which magical beings are you likely to run into?
It’s no secret that the Forbidden Forest is home to a huge array of creatures, not all of them friendly. Don’t worry too much though, as you won’t have to deal with any mean Centaurs! We wouldn’t wish that on anybody after what they did to Dolores Umbridge, but arachnophobia sufferers might need to be prepared for a giant (18ft, in fact!) eight-legged shock. What’s that? You want to know why? Because Aragog lays in wait to pop out and scare passers-by! We won’t tell you where he is, but needless to say, he has nestled himself into a tree and is coming for you!
We know what you’re thinking: that there has to be some pretty unicorns to balance out the scary creatures, but you’d be wrong! Never forget that unicorns are not only super rare but also hunted for their magical blood, so they can’t be out on display for just anyone to meet, but there is someone exceptionally special to encounter. He might not be totally sweet and gentle, but if you show him the right amount of respect, he’ll let you ride him. Yes, we’re talking about Buckbeak!
Do you remember your Hippogriff etiquette? Don’t worry; we’ll refresh your memory, so you don’t come a cropper like Draco Malfoy did! He was silly and didn’t approach in a bowed position, to show esteem, but you won’t make that mistake, will you? If Buckbeak takes a liking to you, he might even bow back, to show that he has accepted your presence and likes you, so be sure to have a tour companion at the ready with their camera, to capture the special moment.
It’s fair to say that the Forbidden Forest will take you on a rollercoaster of emotions. From fear through to delight, you really won’t know if you’re coming or going, but what a great opportunity to reenact some favourite film scenes. Will you be courageous and determined like Hermione? Motivated by a personal mission a la Harry? Or perhaps your fear of spiders will have you running for cover, like Ron. Either way, the Forbidden Forest, the setting for so many pivotal moments in the stories, is a set that you absolutely need to enjoy a wander through, if for no other reason than to practise the following spells:
Expecto Patronum. The spell used to banish Dementors, it relies on harnessing the power of a happy memory, which could be a pleasant relief from the dark and scary spaces in the forest.
Lumos. A clever little spell, it transforms the tip of the bearer’s wand into a torch. It’s a bit like having a light on your phone, only magical and very handy in the forest!
Grab your friends and family members, convene at the Forbidden Forest gates and brace yourself before walking in with confidence. The monsters aren’t all in your mind in this instance, but if you have your defensive charms at the ready, we think you’ll be just fine, while having an unforgettable time to boot!