Being reliant on a wheelchair when I leave the house means there is always factors to consider whenever I go anywhere. Will there be ramps? Will the flooring be smooth? Will doorways be wide enough to maneuver? and a dozen other things to ask. Visiting the Studio Tour was no different. After the excitement and adrenaline had subsided, I was faced with the anxiety of its’ accessibility. The website was really helpful and even had a video of a wheelchair user explaining all the facilities they had to offer for disabled or physically impaired visitors.
The majority of the site is wheelchair accessible with ramps and wide doorways throughout. Some of the ramps are a little more difficult to manoeuvre, particularly the ramp leading to the castle and the one along Diagon alley. Diagon Alley is cobblestoned so it is a little uncomfortable but it is the characteristics of the set. As mentioned there’s a bit of a slope to it so my advice for self-propellers, scooters or careers is to try not to stop as you could get stuck in one of the gaps of the cobbles: as well as the fact that where it’s sloped it can be a little more tricky to get out of.
There are a few things that aren’t accessible such as the Hogwarts Express and the Castle Bridge. I didn’t go on the Castle Bridge but I did go on the Hogwarts Express. It was a very narrow carriageway but had handrails the whole way through which was so helpful -I also had a handy little helper to let me lean on (Thanks, Anna!). When on the train you start at one end and come out the other, so it was inevitable that once out I would have to trek to the other end to get back into my wheelchair. Lucky for me there was a really helpful worker manning the train entrance and when I came out the other end, there she was waiting for me to hop back in. I know it doesn’t sound much but little things like that made the whole day more enjoyable.
In terms of sound and light sensitivities, at times I found it a little overwhelming but again it’s the characteristics of the studio tour and the Harry Potter films. The Hogwarts Express hoots loudly every now and then and the soundtrack of the movies is played throughout. The whole attraction itself is fully booked for the majority of the time so naturally, it’s constantly busy. It’s not extremely bright inside though having said this the artefacts, sets and costumes throughout are all lit by spotlight so every so often you may be hit in the eye but in general it weren’t so bad.
If you are light sensitive, I would recommend that if stopping in the cafe/picnic area sit with your back facing the glass wall as it lets in a lot of natural light and after being in such dimly lit rooms it can be quite intense (almost like coming out of a dark cinema!).
Another thing I was really impressed with was the photo opportunities. Going into the tour I knew I didn’t want to have a go at any of the green screen photo ops, though when by the Hogwarts Express we decided to have a group photo. I thought I had to get out my chair but when we got into the carriage I saw there was a huge gap for wheelchair users: and not by the side where the camera could see but by the window. I personally was really impressed by this as it meant that wheelchair users who can’t physically use their legs could be a part of the magic also.
When you first go in your taken into a cinema where you’re shown a few short clips. I personally found these to be very loud and bright so if you are sensitive to light or sound in any way I recommend keeping some earplugs on you and your sunnies too.
I think that is all, but I may have missed some things. If you have ever been and can think of anything I may have missed please put it in a comments below!
Have you ever been to the Studio Tour? What did you think of the Accessibility?
Cheerio for now!