First of all, I’m going to apologise for the lack of blog posts. I’ve been short on ideas and time to write, what with college and friend drama and the like. So, I’m sorry about that one.
Part of the reason why I’ve been so busy is the stream of birthdays October brings. Mine was last weekend, and as a part of my birthday present from my parents, me and Mum went down to Watford on the train to see the Harry Potter Studio Tour.
The Harry Potter Studio Tour.
We took two trains and a connecting shuttle bus, a several hour journey partially in first class. They had WiFi and free food, it was amazing!
When we got there, we were actually an hour early for our tour, but due to it not being so busy they let us in. That extra hour came in very handy, we weren’t expecting to spend quite so long in there! The first part of the tour was a short film, featuring Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. They basically introduced the tour and gave us some idea as to what was going to be in it. Some. In the same way that I don’t want to spoiler it, they didn’t either.
What I will do is outline the experience, hint at some of the attractions. What I won’t do is fangirl and gush and give you every little insignificant detail of the day, right down to the Butterbeer barrel bins. No matter how much I want to…
The tour featured sets, props, costumes, prosthetics… all of the behind-the-scenes stuff you never would have thought lives in a yellow warehouse. We saw the likes of the Great Hall, Hagrid’s hut, Gryffindor Common Room. There were interactive activities, like wand demonstrations and walk-through sets.
Due to it being close to Halloween, there was a Dark Arts event taking place. What did that mean? It meant that Hogwarts was channeling Spooky World in that Death Eaters were wandering around the place in full dress, masks and all. I’m quite easily scared – being a measly 5′ tall I find most things intimidating – so a silent, slowly and purposefully moving Death Eater making his way towards me sent me speed walking in the other direction. Did get a picture though…
Along with the sets and Death Eaters was a wide array of props, and the mechanics being their magic. Outside on the backlot were the vehicles from the films. Back inside were the models and prosthetics used to create the CGI characters, to dress the goblins, to make Dobby. Along with the prosthetics were life-size models of some of the cast (and yes, Dobby was there. I love Dobby).
With my height in mind, Mum thought it would be hilarious to photograph me next to some of the taller features of the tour. Like the Knight Bus, and the model of Hagrid. That made for some funny photos!
By the end of the tour, we’d spent around three and a half hours wandering round, mouths agape and eyes opened to the real magic of Hogwarts. But we were far from done.
A veritable Diagon Alley in a single yet enormous room, the gift shop housed everything from memorabilia to collectables, confectionery to clothing. A vast array of sweets to make even Fred and George envious; more t-shirts and scarves than the Gryffindor laundry room; more books than the restricted section; more wands than Olivander’s.
I bought one.
Due to the nature of Harry Potter, its huge range in audience, there was something for everyone in that gift shop. Provided you had the cash, or a hefty bank loan.
There was only one flaw I found in the whole event, and it didn’t even effect the tour. No, the flaw lay with the small coffee shop at the end. It was run by Starbucks. I have a Starbucks card. They wouldn’t accept my Starbucks card. I was cheated out of two stars.
On the way back, I was dead on my feet. The excitement of the day and the physical strain of walking around for innumerable hours had taken its toll on my body. I almost fell asleep on the shuttle bus, on the phone to my friend. I did fall asleep on the second train. For a whole hour.
The day was amazing. I would highly recommend it, even if you’re only a small fan of the franchise. Even if you aren’t, actually. The sheer revelations of how they make the magic happen are spell-bounding in themselves.