The Harry Potter StudiosMonday, March 03, 2014
Sometime before Christmas Jenny asked the twittersphere if anyone wanted to go to The Harry Potter Studios with her. Within minutes she'd received a number of replies that cemented her as the official organiser of a bloggers trip to Hogwarts. And jolly excited we all were too!
Jenny did an amazing job of getting us all organised and before I could blink the day had arrived and we were packed into Jenny's car heading south to Leavesden. We met the rest of the gang at the studios and the queuing began. We didn't have to wait long and after a quick introduction from Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, not in person sadly, but exactly where we're used to seeing them - on the big screen - the screen went up to reveal the doors to the Great Hall and our tour began.
The only piece of advice I will give you here is to take your time and look up and down and all around. I'm sure I missed so much as I meandered around aimlessly oohing and ahhing and saying 'oh look at that'. I loved the way that the mannequins were positioned in the same stance the actors used in the films. There was plenty of room for everyone to move around although there was always a queue for the green screen.
We went along during the Animal Actors event and got to meet some of the animal breeds that appeared in the films. A lot of the animals used during filming where rescues and in most cases there was more than one for each character.
Half way through you come to a courtyard, where you're pretty much obligated to try a Butterbeer (no hardship as I rather liked it) but as a group we were somewhat divided. It's here that you see Harry's house on Privet Drive, Hagrid's motorbike and the night bus among other things, and this is where Hedwig made his appearance, although sadly I missed him. He will be returning in April for the Feathers and Flight feature and I am seriously tempted to book my ticket!
Once back in the warm John Cleese peers down at you from a shelf in the Creature Effects area, but he wasn't looking very well, bless him. I loved this part, it's utterly fascinating.
I asked my boyfriend if he wanted me to bring him anything back, to which he replied 'Hagrid'. Not the answer I was expecting and this picture of his model head was the best I could do. It sat on the shoulders of the 6ft 10" rugby player who helped bring the enormous character to life on screen.
Turning the next corner we found ourselves in a very familiar place - Diagon Alley. Seeing Crookshanks here was a real treat for me - Diagon Alley was a part I'd been particularly looking forward too, and then they added a cat - I was basically in heaven. Being a typical feline, this chap spent most of the time turned away from the crowd having a wash, only occasionally turning around long enough to allow us to take a blurred photo or two. I was smitten never-the-less.
I really wanted to go inside all of the shops (spoken like a true shop-a-holic) especially Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes and Ollivanders but we had to make do with peering in through the windows. It's typical of me to want to go into areas that are off limits when there is so much other stuff to see!
Moving forward we wandered through the Art Department and the Model Room, it was here that we saw the Hogwarts model. It's amazing! The lights going up and down really added to the experience by allowing you to see Hogwarts 'at night'. It's the sort of thing that you can just look at for ages, the detail of it is simply stunning.
The tour ends in the gift shop and once you're there, you can't go back. I wish I'd known this as I would definitely have gone back to see Daigon Alley again and have a last poke around the Creature Effects and gaze at Hogwarts for a while longer. You're encouraged to take things at your own pace and after leaving the Great Hall it's a self guided tour so you're left to your own devices. My advice would be to take your time and enjoy it, drink it all in.
The gift shop was standard stuff. I think that it would have been so nice to theme it and make it look like sections of the film set, I would have been far more likely to buy some of Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans if I felt that Fred and George would pop up at any minute.
Truth be told, I didn't feel the need to buy anything as Warner Bros had kindly organised some generous goodie bags for us all. Crookshanks, Scabbers and Hermione's wand were among my treats, along with a chocolate frog and some peppermint toads. It's nice to have something to remember my day by, but most of all I'll take away the feeling of magic and wonder that I felt walking around and seeing behind the scenes of the films. I'll be watching them all again now with a whole new reason to enjoy them.
Huge thanks to Jenny for organising out trip and thanks to Warner Brother Studios for our complimentary visit and our generous goody bags. The Harry Potter Studio really did live up to and exceed my expectations and I can't wait to return again soon...
Some other posts of the day - Jenny, Charlotte, Sara, Emma, and Sophie. Also, have a little watch of Jenny's video of our day.