“Happiness can be found in even the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light”
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but even more to stand up to our friends”
“Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry. But why on earth should that mean it is not real?”
If you can’t tell me who the owner of these great quotes is then my advice to you is to stop reading right here, right now, go back to whatever it was you were doing before opening this post (which clearly did not involve reading this fabulous book series!) and re-evaluate your day.
Okay, I feel mean now. Of course, I’d very much like you to carry on reading!
If you guessed correctly, well done! These have indeed come from the brilliant,
fictional character of Albus Dumbledore from the world-famous Harry Potter franchise, brought to us by none other than the genius that is J K Rowling.
My close friends and family have known for many years about my obsession with Harry Potter – reading the books repetitively, watching the films continuously, auditioning for the role of Lavender Brown, even racing it to Leicester Square with my friend to be there for the Half Blood Prince premiere from 5am until 10pm at night! If starting from all the way at the back (slowly making our way to the front) of the queue of a swarm of excited Potter fans from all around the world (including people that camped out there days in advance!), in torrential downpours isn’t dedication, I don’t know what is! It’s worth mentioning we did the same for the Deathly Hallows premiere too!
At Christmas, my present to my little cousin was to take her to the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Leavesden Studios. I say it was a present to her, but I can’t pretend this was an entirely selfless present idea!
If you haven’t been yet – GO! If you have been – GO AGAIN! Whether you’re fans of the franchise or not, it really is an incredible day. Unlike replicas such as “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” in Florida, what you’re seeing at these studios is the real deal. Every where you step is where the directors, actors, producers, costume designers, make-up artists etc all stepped themselves when filming this extraordinary series. The sets that you’re seeing are real. The boys dormitory you’re looking at? Yes. That is the real set that Daniel Radcliffe and his fellow Gryffindors filmed on. Dumbledore’s office? Yes. That too is the real set that Michael Gambon filmed on; complete with his large chair and desk, memories cabinet and of course, the pensieve.
You understand that everything is real now? Good. We’re finally on the same page!
Now get excited and realise how much of a big deal this is!!
The tour takes you through all of the different sets and props used during the filming of all 8 films. It takes approximately 3 hours to go through all that the tour has to offer, thankfully though, the staff don’t rush you around; you’re free to move at your own pace and take as many photos as you like, which is a real treat for those die-hard fans!
Here’s a few of my favourite snaps of the day!
Along your tour you will venture outside where you’ll see The Knight Bus, Harry’s (for want of a better word) “home” at Number 4 Privet Drive, Godric’s Hollow; the house where Harry’s parents were murdered by the evil hands of Lord Voldemort (ssh! Don’t say his name!), as well as the blue Ford Anglia that Harry and Ron used to get to Hogwarts and ended up crashing into the Whomping Willow in the Chamber of Secrets!
Hold your broomsticks!!
I know it’s hard to contain your excitement but before any of that, no trip to the Warners Bros Studios would be complete without embracing your inner witch/wizard and sampling Harry, Ron and Hermione’s favourite drink from The Leaky Cauldron in Hogsmeade. Yep! You’ve guessed it…
We enjoyed it a little bit too much…
Once you’ve had your fix, you’ll head back inside where you’ll be entering the final stages of the tour. This is where you’ll see all the animatronics (Hedwig, Buckbeak, the Mandrakes, Aragog, etc), full scale models of your favourite characters, prosthetics (Goblins etc) and all the drawings that the production design team spent hours, days, weeks and months on to make J K Rowling’s vision a reality. It really is incredible when you see for yourself all the hard work that has gone into these films.
You’ll then move on to Diagon Alley! I’m pretty sure I’m not the only Potter fan that wishes this was a real place hidden away in the streets of London! You’ll find all the shops that Harry, Ron and Hermione visit for all their Hogwarts essentials as well as Fred and George’s joke shop – Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes!
To finish off, you’ll find yourself at the most magical part of the tour. This really is a sight to remember and admire. You’ll finally see Hogwarts Castle in all it’s magnificent glory.
“Hogwarts is my home!” – Harry Potter to Dobby – Chamber of Secrets.
This is a quarter scale model of the castle. In the Goblet of Fire, for example, there’s a scene where Harry is flying away from the Hungarian Horntail dragon, speeding around the entire castle. The special effects team would use this model to film around and later add in the footage that Daniel Radcliffe would have shot earlier against a green screen. Any scenes like that is what this model was used for. Don’t be disheartened though, for scenes inside the castle’s grounds I believe they filmed in Oxford University (upon finding this out I really wanted to then go to Oxford!).
Just afterwards you’ll find yourself in a room filled from top to bottom with wand cases with every, single actor that’s been in any one of the films, individual names on each box. There’s usually a man in there so if you’re looking for someone in particular, feel free to ask him!
You can take away momentos of your day by entering the gift shop at the end of the tour! With so many prop replicas, toys, sweets, wands and clothes to choose from you really are feeling quite spoilt and overwhelmed by the experience. I came away with a Quidditch t-shirt (aka my new favourite PJ top) and some Bertie Botts’ Every Flavour Beans! They’re fantastic! It makes for a fun game with friends if you put them all in a bowl and choose 3 to give to the other person. They have to eat which ever ones you give them, no peeking and no cheating! With flavours such as earwax and vomit, it’ll be pretty interesting to see your friends’ reactions! Yes, I have played it myself… it was very entertaining!
If you’re interested in going to the Harry Potter Studio Tour after seeing this post then what are you waiting for?! Get booking your tickets! >> http://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/ <<
You’ll need to find your way to Watford Junction (best bet is from London Euston) where you’ll get a double decker, Harry Potter covered bus to the studios (£2 for a return ticket).
I’ll leave you with a farewell quote from the wonderful lady that brought these remarkable stories into our lives…
“No story lives unless someone wants to listen” J K Rowling.