Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Magic Happened Here

A little while ago, my darling Jenny put a little call out on Twitter to see if any of us blogging ladies would be keen on a trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. And I think my reaction was something along the lines of "If you dare go without me I'll disown you and never speak to you again".

Which is nearly the reaction J had when he found out I was going and he wasn't. Fortunately, he hasn't totally disowned me, but he still won't let me talk about our trip- but I can tell you, right? And overshare in the pictures- because I really did take a lot.

Jenny worked some magic (heh. Terrible pun fully intended) and as a result a couple of weekends ago ten bloggers made their way to the Leavesden Studios which hosted the filming of the Harry Potter series of films, and now host the Harry Potter Studio Tour.

It kind of explains my excitement at going when I explain that I left home at 7:30am on a Sunday morning and drove for four hours, including on the M25 by myself just to get there. I picked up Bess and Charlotte at Watford Junction and piled them into Henri (my car, for newer readers, not the Frenchman I drag around with me) to zoom off to the studios and meet Jenny, Emma, Sara, Sarah, Beth, Hazel, and Sophie.

My attempt at a team picture in the Mirror of Erised. I failed. Sorry girls!
On our arrival, Jenny played mum and dished out our tickets, and sent us up to the information desk where we collected some lovely, lovely goody bags. Each contained a cuddly toy, a wand, a chocolate frog, and a box of peppermint toads. I was pretty damn thrilled to get Fang and Voldemort's wand because, let's be honest, Voldemort is a much cooler character than Harry (not person. Character. There's way more to him, don't you think?!)

Anyway. Our time arrived, and we were ushered through a (pretty substantial, actually) queue to a pair of rooms where you heard all about how the books became films, and what it was like to work on the films, before entering the set of the Great Hall.

This is the only bit of the tour you are ushered through- a guide explains the fine detail of the hall, the friezes, the crest carved into the fireplace, the real flagstone floor- then lets you loose to explore for yourself, and head through to the main hanger where sets, costumes, props, and animal actors were stationed.

I know a couple of people felt that seeing the detail kind of ruined the magic for them, but personally, it just made me appreciate the films even more. I mean the attention to detail was just mindblowing- for instance, did you notice that the more powerful Umbridge got, the pinker her wardrobe (and office) became?

The set of the Potions classroom was particularly magical for me- there was something about all the jars and bottles, self stirring cauldrons and Snape's ominous costume in the corner that really screamed magic to me. But then, just across the way was Dumbledore's office- which, quite frankly, is the one room in Hogwarts I always wanted to peek inside. Just look at it!

It surprised me how teeny tiny some of the sets were. The beds in Harry's dormitory, for instance, were so tiny that I think even I, at the grand height of 5' 3.5", would have struggled to lie in the comfortably (and that's coming from a girl who once spent a week trying to sleep widthways in her bed. Yeah.). And Hagrid's hut was so little- though I think this was partly to make Hagrid look extra huge. Though considering Robbie Coltrane's body double was 6' 10", I'm not convinced that you'd need to do a lot of work to make other people look small next to him.

I was also completely blown away by the level of detail that went into props which only appeared in one film- I mean just look at that door. Beautiful, right?

And the Magic is Might statue was suitably creepy. There was always something that reminded me of Nazism in the way Voldemort/ the Death Eaters conducted themselves. Just me? 

After we'd made our way (slowly) through the first hangar, we headed blinking into the sunshine to see a bright purple triple decker bus parked outside 4 Privet Drive. As you do.

I think my ridiculous beam says it all, doesn't it!?
Seriously. I was like a cat that had the cream.
But first, we had to stop for a butterbeer. Honestly- it was okay. To me, it just tasted like Starbucks' caramel drizzle, which is great on top of a coffee, but not so great as a whole drink. Charlotte, Emma, Bess and I decided it was just a liiiiittle bit too sweet for us, but Jenny was all for it and probably would have drank six if we'd let her. Also- I'd always imagined butterbeer as a warming, wintery drink- but this was cold. What is this!?
Charlotte is just adorable, isn't she!?
But we were soon cheered up after the disappointing butterbeer when we spotted that outside 3 Privet Drive was Hedwig. An actual owl which had actually been in the films playing Hedwig. Excuse my awkward hand and chubby face and let's just focus on the beautiful snowy owl on my shoulder, shall we?

Snapping away, we continued into the next hangar, where we were greeted with incredible masks, mannequins, and the animatronics used for some of the weirder creatures and unusual shots- like the mandrakes, Fenrir Greyback, or the mannequin-Emma-Watson used in The Goblet of Fire

But to be honest, I hurried through, just far far too excited to see Diagon Alley. And I wasn't disappointed in the slightest. Diagon Alley is just the coolest street- it really feels bustling, busy, and exciting, just as it probably would if it was a real place. Again- the focus on the small details just blew me away.

SaraEmma, and Charlotte

But the real treat was right at the end where, having passed through all the incredible sets, you finish with the most beautiful, beautiful scaled-down model of Hogwarts. Honestly- I think we all felt slightly emotional looking at it. It is just so pretty, and with the light in the room changing from night to day, it just looked so magical. I can't think of a better way to end the tour (other than with the absolutely mental gift shop). I could have spent hours there.

So thank you SO much to the people of the Warner Bros Studio Tour- I had the most incredible day, and would highly, highly recommend the tour to anyone. Even if you're only a little bit of a Harry Potter fan, or are just really interested in film production- it's a really fantastic experience. I would be more than happy to go again, too- which J is pretty happy about- because I still feel like there is so much I didn't see.

Have you been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour?


  1. Wow, this looks amazing! I'm so jealous, I've always wanted to go to the studio tour but never got round to it! I think it'll definitely be on my summer to do list :) Isn't it just incredible how pretty much a whole new world has come out of a series of children's books for our generation?!

    Imogen // imogenscribbles

  2. I am so incredibly jealous I can't even express it in words! I will make it one day but living so far North it would be a very expensive trip :(
    Thoroughly enjoyed seeing your photos though, you got some fab ones!!

    Best wishes, Danielle x

  3. Wow I really really want to go here! It looks like such an amazing place and there is so much detail! Really want to go now! Looks like you had an amazing time! XxxX

  4. This looks so so amazing! Also, I love your writing. And you look gorgeous in all these photos! Mega gorgeous! x

  5. Ahh I loved our visit here last year, so amazing. Love your pics :) I spot Charlotte too, we met at the Pinterst event. She's so lovely x

  6. It's bloody amazing isn't it! I visited on my birthday in December and it was honestly the most magical (suitable pun!) experience I've ever had. I felt all emotional when we got to the room of Hogwarts too, it's beautiful and breathtaking and it just makes me sad that it's all over. I feel like I need to reread all the books and re-watch all of the films, so I can transport myself back to that magical place. I can remember when all of the books were yet to be released, and I'd get my hands on the next book and I'd not put it down until I was finished. Ahhh! It looks like you had a wonderful time, Diagon Alley is amazing isn't it?! The attention to detail on each and every prop etc. was just incredible. I kind of imagined in my head that a lot of it would be digitally mastered - I was so thrilled and shocked to see the door from The Chamber of Secrets was a real, working thing! I managed to convert my boyfriend into a Harry Potter fan, he booked tickets for me to go because I'm such a huge fan, but he'd never read the books or even watched the films. I sat him through each of the films and by the end he was hooked! xxx


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