Last week Myles Sketchley our Projects Development Officer piloted a trip to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour to see just how accessible is was.
“Last week I arranged a trip to Warner Brothers Studio Tour, The Making of Harry Potter for a trial visit with four of my friends to see how wheelchair accessible they really are. So, here is how it went.
When we arrived at Harry Potter, we had to show our confirmation booking to get in the car park, we were then instructed where to pack, the disabled parking is great, its really close to the attraction, so if it was raining you would not get soaked, however, when we went it was really sunny, so we nipped straight across to Harry Potter and stood under the canopy to wait for the other families to arrive.
We collected our tickets and made our way inside. Getting inside was fine, we had our bags searched, went through the security process and was soon out the other side and straight into the attraction. Before we went any further, we decided to check out the Changing Place by using our Radar key. This was nice and clean with all the equipment working perfectly.
Then we progressed onto the food court, we all sat together on large tables and had some dinner. I had fish and chips which was very nice. Once we were all finished, we went to the entrance of the tour. On entry you go through two rooms where you cannot take photographs or videos, then the screen raises and you go through the large doors straight into the great hall. Now, I’m not going to tell you much more about the tour as its so magical, I don’t want to ruin it for you! I will say I loved it, all of the props, costumes and scenes are amazing to look and read about.
My favourite bit of Harry Potter tour was being there with my friends, having photographs took in front of the green screens and of course, having Butterbeer! My worst part of the tour was trying to get into the blue car for a photograph, I got in fine but when I was getting out my leg got stuck as it wasn’t really made for wheelchair users, but you know me, I give everything a try! I think if I could improve one thing at the studio tour, it would be to have more wheelchair accessible photo opportunities. Even though I could access most of them in some way, like being positioned in front of the prop, it would have been much better if I could have got ‘on’ the prop, for example the bus, I could be positioned in front of the doorway, if they had a ramp, I could have got on the bus same as non-wheelchair users.
When the tour was over, the walkway goes through the gift shop, even though the git shop is huge, it was so busy it felt quite claustrophobic and closed in, even though I had my mask on, I didn’t feel as safe as I did for the rest of the tour.
In addition to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, I booked a hotel for all of my triallers. I booked different rooms to see which would be the best for my wheelchair user friends and their families. We had a room with an adjoining room for carers and a room with two beds that slept three people. Both the room types we great, they were spacious and comfortable all close by to the lifts so we didn’t have to walk down miles of corridors. There were a few great things about the hotel, the food was really nice, the hotel was accessible and the bed was really bouncy and comfortable. The down side of this hotel was the lifts, there were three lifts, however only the middle lift went to the restaurant and bar area and unfortunately, one of our families got stuck in this lift and pressed the alarm but the reception didn’t even hear the alarm going off and the family were put through to a central phone operator who did their best to help but were just on the other end of the phone line. I think there are two things that need improving in this hotel –
- They need an internal ramp to get up the three steps to the restaurant and bar area from reception.
- Make sure their disabled parking is accessible. When we were in the hotel, there was a huge skip put in one of the three disabled spaces. Parking in the hotel was bad enough, they don’t have their own car park, just these three disabled spaces around the back of the hotel, one of which wasn’t even available to park in. All other guests had to park in the Citi Parks Car Park two streets away, it wasn’t a massive inconvenience as the hotel offer reduced parking charge, which is great, but the car park has a height barrier of 1.9m, which our WAV cannot fit into.
Overall, I was happy with both parts of our trial visit, however, there are still things that could be changed and adapted to make it more wheelchair accessible.”
Myles Sketchley, Project Development Officer