Tuesday, 7 May 2013

The Harry Potter Studio Tour

It is well-known that I love nothing more than reading. In fact, my passion for books led me to become a librarian as I was growing up. It's hard to imagine a chatterbox like me in such a quiet environment, but I loved it.

As I worked in libraries, my favourite job of all would be to help children discover new books, to open them to the wonders of reading. During quiet periods, I would snuggle with them on a squishy bean bag, and delve into the magical, mysterious worlds of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or the Famous Five.

Then, one day, one of the children thrust a book in my hands. "Read this, read us this!" he shouted. I flicked through it, noticing that it was about a boy wizard called Harry Potter.

Positive that it couldn't replace Roald Dahl in my affections, I agreed and started to read. I never looked back...

And while I could never adore the films as much as the books (do films ever compare when books are so beloved?), I have loved seeing the magic of J. K. Rowling's imagination captured on the big screen.

So, as a bona fide Harry Potter geek, I was pretty excited to finally visit the Warner Bros. Harry Potter studio tour in Leavesden this weekend. So excited, in fact, that I barely slept the night before.

Looking very happy in the Great Hall...

Wandering around, I was in a bit of a daze. There was the Great Hall, and Privet Drive! There was Diagon Alley, and the Potions Room! Oh, and there was the cupboard under the stairs and HOGWARTS!! I was like a child at Disney, dancing around each set in glee.


Privet Drive
I got to ride a broomstick across the Thames, sit inside the flying Ford Anglia and climb aboard the Knight Bus. I checked out the Gryffindor common room, visited Hagrid in his hut and marvelled at the magic of Dumbledore's office.

Dumbledore's office
The Gryffindor Common Room

I gaped at the costumes, wondering just how teeny tiny Emma Watson must be, then admired the impressive display of wands. Over 3,000 wands were made for the films (amazing, right?!) and each one was incredibly detailed, from the curved ivory wand of Voldemort to Harry's smooth wand.

Some of the wands...
But for me, the best part of all was the Butterbeer! Served up in a tankard (I made hubby spend the extra £3, much to his disgust), it tasted of liquid butterscotch mixed with cream soda and was absolutely delicious. Just a shame I picked Tom Riddle's grave to drink it in front of...


Anyway, is the Harry Potter tour worth the money? Yes, most definitely!

The sets were absolutely incredible and will delight any Potter fans, and I really started to appreciate just how much work each movie must involve. Some of the sets were so intricate - in Ollivander's wander shop, over 17,000 wand boxes were stacked on shelves, each one decorated with hand-written labels.
The Potions room
Meanwhile, the potions lab was stacked with jars and bottles of various ingredients. One of the prop makers even went as far as visiting a local butcher to buy animal bones, which were then cooked up and jarred to make gruesome ingredients.

My favourite set, Dolores Umbridge's office
Gadget geeks will love the impressive displays of animatronics and other mechanisms, such as the biting Monster Book of Monsters, werewolves, trolls and the terrifying Aragog spider. There's also a huge display of goblin masks, which Warwick Davies guides you through (not in person, obviously).

All in all, it was a brilliant day out - just be sure to save up! I had to literally restrain myself so I didn't spend £40 on Gryffindor PJs, or buy a sorting hat and broom. Oops...

Are you planning on visiting, or have you been already? Let us know, and send a box of Chocolate Frogs our way!

Sam x