Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Harry Potter Studio - Touring Tuesday

*there are a lot of photos in this post - be sure to click on the small pictures and you'll see a larger size*

Oldest Kiddo loves Harry Potter.  She started off listening to me read the stories to her when she was around six or seven years old.  Once her love of reading took off she devoured all seven books.  She even rereads her favorites from time to time.

She was thrilled (and so was I!) to learn that the actual sound stages used to film the Harry Potter movies were not very far from us, and they were open for touring!  We bought her a ticket (and Hermione Granger's wand) to the Harry Potter Studios for Christmas.  It took us until April to go because, as I've said before, the Brits plan ahead, and the weekend dates were all taken until April.  So it was also a bonus after her birthday as well.

Matt and Youngest Kiddo stayed home as neither one of them have any knowledge or interest of Harry Potter.  I hope to change that with Youngest Kiddo quite soon.  

Anyway, there are some logistical things one needs to know before visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour.  The first thing is that there is no way I can accurately describe this incredible place.  The photos will tell the story, but it's only a small portion of the photos taken.   

  • If you don't want to drive to the studio, it's an easy train ride out to Watford Junction where an official tour bus takes you to the studio for a mere £2 round trip.
  • You must purchase your tickets in advance.  There are no walk up sales available.
  • Your ticket is for a timed entry, and I can almost bet that the rule-following Brits will not make an exception if you are late.
  • There is a small cafe on site, and many families brought picnics for an outside meal.  We grabbed a sweet snack and a beverage before taking the bus back to the train station.  

Once we got off the bus, the magic started!  In the vestibule, Youngest Kiddo matched her hands with the impressions of Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Rupert Grint.

Whilst queueing for our time into the tour, we could see Harry's cupboard under the stairs.  

Our tour group was taken to a small theatre where we watched clips from the movies and a little history of the studio.  The most magical moment of the whole tour happened after the movie clips.  The screen retracted into the ceiling to reveal a set of huge wooden doors.  The tour host had the crowd join her down at the doors and asked if anyone was celebrating a birthday.  I pushed Oldest Kiddo to the front as her big day was just the day before.  One other girl joined her at the front and they got to push the actual doors open to the actual Hogwarts Great Hall!  I still get goosebumps when I think about that moment.  

As I said we went into the actual Hogwarts Great Hall.  Yes, the actual one.  It was surreal to know that the movies were made in this spot.  The floor in the Great Hall was made of actual stone to accommodate the trolls, duels, and general hijinks of the movies.   

After leaving the Great Hall, we followed the tour path through the sound stages.  In the first building my girl and I saw many sets including: the Gryffindor Common Room, the boy's dormitory, Dumbledore's office, Snape's classroom, and the Weasley's magical kitchen.

The next part of the tour was an opportunity to see some of outside sets.  You'll notice Oldest Kiddo in front of what looks like the Dursley's house.  It's actually the house next door at Number 3 Privet Drive.  My girl is practical in that she didn't want to wait in the queue for Number 4 Privet Drive.  After all they are identical houses.  

The final part of our tour focused on the technical aspect of the movies and Diagon Alley!  We viewed many animatronics, goblins, and the amazing scale model of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry.

As with every good themed-location, we ended in the gift shop.  This is a quality gift shop with anything you could ever want.  My girl wanted an iron-on patch for her school bag that, sadly, was out of stock.  So she felt a book about the studios was a suitable replacement.  

The two of us had an amazing day.  If you are not a Harry Potter fan, you will still enjoy this tour.  The creativity and thought behind the sets is beyond anything I could ever create.

It was worth every pound.   

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