Google's Street View cameras have gone to lots of amazing places around the world, from the depths of the Grand Canyon to the towering heights from inside the Burj Khalifa skyscraper in Dubai, but their latest destination may be their hottest yet—an up-close view inside the world of Harry Potter in London.
That's where the Street View cameras captured a portion of the inner sanctum of the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, where the sets and scenery from the beloved Harry Potter films are on display for visitors in real life, from the inside of The Great Hall to the oft-seen cobblestones of Diagon Alley, where Harry and his friends began their adventures.
Now instead of jetting off to London, Harry Potter fans can explore part of that Studio Tour—the infamous Diagon Alley marketplace—using the 360-degree views and full-color imagery provided by Street View for their virtual tour.
There visitors will find shops including Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment, Ollivanders wand shop, Slug & Jiggers Apothecary, Flourish and Blotts, the Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes, Gringotts Wizarding Bank and Eeylops Owl Emporium, all along the quaint and detailed set used in the films.
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour also includes many other sets and features from the films that are not available through the Street View images, including Dumbledore's office, the Great Hall, the Gryffindor common room, the boys' dormitory, Hagrid's hut, Potion's classroom and Professor Umbridge's office at the Ministry of Magic. Also on display on the real-life tour are many iconic props from the films such as Harry's Nimbus 2000 flying broom and Hagrid's motorcycle, according to the tour Website.
There's even a Google+ page where more images and information about the Studio Tour are available.
Google is always busy expanding its 6-year-old Street View collection of images from the world's most amazing places. In June, Google unveiled the collection's first-ever photographic contributions taken in the Arab world and from the top of the world's tallest skyscraper, Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The images at Burj Khalifa allow online visitors to get a taste of what it is like to stand on top of the tallest building in the world, according to Google. The images are the first time Google has captured a skyscraper images using Street View. In the new images, virtual visitors can experience the view from the highest occupied floor in the world on the building's 163rd floor, and they can also experience being in the fastest-moving elevators in the world, which operate at 22 mph. Visitors can even see the highest swimming pool in the world on the 76th floor.
Earlier in June, Google added images of 1,000 additional famous locations around the world with new images from Asia, Europe, Latin America, the United States and Canada. The images are being provided to offer more information to viewers as they plan vacations or simply explore the world from their Web browsers, according to Google.
Google's Street View image collection has been growing regularly since its debut in 2007.
In March, Street View added spectacular images of the world's tallest mountain peaks, including Everest and Kilimanjaro, to its ever-expanding collection of photos from destinations around the globe.
Also in March, a Street View crew collected and released a collection of haunting images of the Japanese town of Namie-machi. The photos were taken to document the evacuated town two years after radiation leaked from a nearby nuclear power plant following the March 11, 2011, earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan.
In September 2012, Street View added its first-ever underwater panoramic images, bringing in colorful and beautiful photographs of underwater reefs in Australia, Hawaii and the Philippines. The images came from the Catlin Seaview Survey, which is conducting scientific expeditions to the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea in Australia.
Meanwhile, the Street View program has come under scrutiny both in the United States and in Europe after it was learned that Google was gathering the information street-by-street between 2007 and 2010.
The company was hit with an $189,167 fine in Germany in April 2013 for collecting user data without fully disclosing the practice as Google Street View vehicles combed German streets collecting information for its maps back from 2007 to 2010.
Also in April, Google announced that its Street View imaging program is now operating in 50 nations around the world.