21 August 2016

Harry Potter // Warner Bros. Studio Tour


I was thinking about what to get my sister for her 21st birthday for absolutely ageeees and finally decided to take her to the Harry Potter Studios for the day. I'm really glad that I did as we're both massive Harry Potter fans and it was a really fun day that made me want to re-watch all the Harry Potter films and re-read all the books as soon as I got home!

The studio tour is at Leveson studios in London (by the way - make sure you pre-book and pay for your tickets as you can't buy them when you get there) so we had to get a train to the nearest station - Watford Junction. You can then get a return bus directly to the studios for around £2.50 - trust me you can't miss this bus - it's literally bright purple (sort've like the Knight bus) with Harry Potter Studio stickers all over it. Once we got there we had to wait in ma-hu-siveee queue to get in - it was worth every minute though...

We watched a short video with Daniel Radcliffe (Harry), Emma Watson (Hermione) & Rupert Grint (Ron) in which ended with an image of the entrance to the great hall. The screen then whipped up to reveal the wooden doors which opened into the great hall set - talk about magical! It literally looked exactly how I'd imagined it to be when watching the films and it was amazing to see all the little details I never noticed before - right down to the cutlery and boar headed pumpkin juice jugs. Dotted around the hall were mannequins showing the robes worn by the four different houses, including the first robes Dan wore on set as Harry when he was just 11 (they were so small!).

Once you've passed through the Hall you get the chance to see some of the iconic sets of Hogwarts and the wider Harry Potter world, including the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore's Office, the Potions classroom, Hagrid's hut, The burrow, Umbridge's Ministry of Magic office, as well as loads of amazing props and costumes - there's literally so much to look at that it's hard to know where to begin!

Every minute detail has been thought out and it really amazes me how much time and effort went into making everything absolutely perfect - for example the hundred of vials housed in Dumbledore's memory cabinet each had a handwritten label scribed on immaculately - so beautiful to look at. I loved looking at some of the smaller props such as the Philosophers stone from the first film, Hermione's time-turner, the Golden snitch, Neville's Remembrall, the Triwizard cup and of course everyone's wands! So much though has gone into it everything and these are things you don't get to look at in as much detail when you're watching them in the films.

After we'd finished gawking at everything on offer in the main room we moved through to another room where we found none other than the Hogwarts Express! It looked exactly like it did in the films and it was so cool to be able to get on it and peer in to the different compartments, each depicting a scene from one of the eight films. We also got a cheeky picture of us pushing the Hogwarts luggage trolley through the wall onto platform nine and three quarters!

The next part of the tour is called the backlot where you can try the legendary butterbeer and get your photo taken outside number 4 Privet Drive. They also have the legendary bridge created for the third film as well as the Knight bus and Harry's parents house in Godrics Hollow. It was amazing to see some of the bigger sets created for the films and walking through the bridge (imagining I was at Hogwarts) was a pretty epic moment.

The second part of the tour shows you behind the scenes of developing some of the famous creatures  (Buckbeak, Aragog, the dragons, the basilisk, Fawkes the phoenix... to name but a few) from the Harry Potter series and the processes that went int making them appear real. It's something I hadn't really given much thought to before, thinking it was mostly CGI, but the time it takes to bring these concepts to life is phenomenal. We also got to see loads of the concept art and ideas that went into every aspect of the castle and the wider Harry Potter universe - seriously the architecture is amazing!

We also got to walk down the diagonal alley set (dreams do come true) and see all the famous shops including Wiseacre's Wizarding Equipment, Ollivanders, Florean Fortescue's Ice Cream Parlour and of course Weasleys Wizarding Wheezes! I just wish I could've gone inside and made a few purchases!

Last, but certainly not least was my absolute favourite part of the tour - a 50 foot wide, scale model of the Hogwarts castle and grounds. The craftsmanship and time that went into creating this is unbelievable, every tiny detail has been thought out so precisely and it was really beautiful to look at.

After we'd finished the tour we had some time to kill before getting the train home. There isn't really much to do around Watford Junction but there is a Nando's - what more could you ask for really? Just turn left when you come out the station and walk until you get to the main high street, or alternatively just use Google maps - technology eh? Have you ever been to the Harry Potter studios? Let me know your favourite bit of the tour - I'd love to know!
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