I’m ashamed at myself in fact that it has taken me this long to visit the Harry Potter Studios but SPOILER ALERT, it was so worth the wait.
Let me warn you now. This post is going to contain A LOT of photos.
I have absolutely no shame in telling you I’m a Harry Potter fanatic. Me and my mate Cat spent our teenage years talking about our predictions for the next books well into the early hours of the morning.
From the minute we arrived, I was giddy. I was transported back to being 11 years old, sitting in the cinema and hearing the “do de doo doooo do dooooo doooooo” music starting and marvelling as the whole magical world that I’d been transported to by J.K Rowling came to life on screen.
So for this post, I’m going to let Little Rachel loose and indulge her in some full on HP fandom. It is important to remember the things that were truly character forming for us in our earlier year. Harry Potter was definitely one of those things for me. After all.. Age is foolish and forgetful when it underestimates youth.
You might belong in Gryffindor where dwell the brave at heart. Their daring nerve and chivalry set Gryffindors apart.
“Oh, you may not think I’m pretty,
But don’t judge on what you see,
I’ll eat myself if you can find
A smarter hat than me.”
“Happiness can be found in the darkest of time, if one only remembers to turn on the light”
“The house of Godric Gryffindor has commanded the respect of the wizarding world for nearly ten centuries. I will not have you, in one night, besmirching that name by behaving like a babbling, bumbling band of baboons!”
“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live, remember that.”
“It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.”
“Mysterious thing, Time. Powerful, and when meddled with, dangerous.”
“To Harry James Potter, I leave the Snitch he caught in his first Quidditch match at Hogwarts, as a reminder of the rewards of perseverance and skill.“
“I can teach you how to bewitch the mind and ensnare the senses. I can tell you how to bottle fame, brew glory, and even put a stopper in death.”
“I am what I am, an’ I’m not ashamed. ‘Never be ashamed,’ my ol’ dad used ter say, ‘there’s some who’ll hold it against you, but they’re not worth botherin’ with.”
The intricacy, time and effort that had clearly been put into every prop and piece of scenery was just outstanding. They never sacrificed the integrity of Rowling’s wizarding world.
“Hearing voices no one else can hear isn’t a good sign, even in the wizarding world.”
My inability to take a non-blurry selfie is just testament to how excited I was.
What Harry found most unusual about life at Ron’s, however, wasn’t the talking mirror or the clanking ghoul: It was the fact that everybody there seemed to like him.
“There is no good and evil. There is only power, and those too weak to seek it.”
During this section of the tour they also tug on the heart strings of every budding Quidditch player that wanders through. You get robed up and with the magic of green screen you fly through London. I would definitely have made a the house team for sure.
“But, Hagrid, there must be a mistake. This says Platform 9 3/4, there’s no such thing. Is there?”
He smiled and popped the golden-brown bean into his mouth.
“Alas! Ear wax!”
Part way round the studios, there is a pit stop where you can have a rest and refuel and even try Butterbeer. From those that had visited the studios before me, I’d not heard resoundingly positive reviews on their interpretation on the drink that is supposed to warm your soul. I let Cat take one for the team and give it the first try…
“Its not as bad as I thought it would be.” Well that was good enough for me, I gave it a whirl. It tasted like Irn-Bru topped with thick vanilla cream. It wasn’t bad but it was incredibly sweet, so much so that between us we couldn’t even finish a cup.
With our new sugar rush, we headed outside to be greeted by the one and only Nightbus.
“Yeah, take it away, Ernie! Fasten your safety belts, clench your buttocks! It’s going be a bumpy ride!”
Mr. and Mrs. Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much.
“Right you are Harry, no post on Sundays… no blasted letters today!”
“Fawkes is a phoenix, Harry. Phoenixes burst into flame when it is time for them to die and are reborn from the ashes.”
“Just stroke its spine o’ course!”
‘My sons and daughters do not harm Hagrid, on my command. But I cannot deny them fresh meat, when it wanders so willingly into our midst. Goodbye, friend of Hagrid.’
“Yeh always wait fer the Hippogriff ter make the first move,’ Hagrid continued. ‘It’s polite, see? Yeh walk towards him, and yeh bow, an’ yeh wait. If he bows back, yeh’re allowed to touch him. If he doesn’ bow, then get away from him sharpish, ’cause those talons hurt.”
“Welcome,” Hagrid said, “To Diagon Alley”
One of my favourite parts of the whole studio tour was seeing the phenomenal concept artwork that was produced. I could not believe so much time and energy had been spent on producing these unbelievable canvases purely to give those working on the animation and special effects a feel for the creatures and characters they were expected to create. I’m just so glad that they are now on display and can have the audience that they so clearly deserve.
Then, as if my jaw hadn’t dropped enough over the past couple of hours, you turn a final corner and are met with the most outstanding site. A full scale model of the entirety of Hogwarts Castle. I don’t believe that any photos can capture the amazement that I felt seeing such an impressive structure.
It became ever clearer the sheer number of people it had taken to create such an immersive wizarding world that ignited the imaginations of children and adults alike for 8 films. As a tribute to all of those who had played a part, as you leave the studios you do so past walls lined with wand boxes, each labelled with an individuals name that worked on the films. A fitting thank you.
And are given a final farewell from J.K. Rowling herself…
Just when you’re starting to get disappointed that its all done and you’ve seen everything there is to see you enter THE SHOP. This was a wonderland in its own right but if you want to take some pieces home be prepared to part with a pretty penny or two… or twenty.
I would never have bought it but when I saw a full size replica of the sorting hat looking at me, I couldn’t resist…
“Not Slytherin, not Slytherin”
If you’ve not been to the Harry Potter Studios yet, what are you waiting for?? My top tips for your visit would be:
- Go in the evening on a Sunday. That’s when we went and it was starting to empty out which meant we had plenty of space to really appreciate everything up close. PLUS there was no queue for riding the brooms!
- TAKE YOUR TIME. They cram a hell of a lot into the tour and it works in a one way system so once you’ve gone through one section you can’t go back. Slow down, take your time and take it all in.
- Don’t be shy. Everyone there is a Potter enthusiast and is just as existed about everything as you are. Don’t let acting all grown up and sensible stop you from taking full advantage of all the cheesy photo opportunities. You’ll be the one that looks riddikulus for not joining in the fun!
So from one Potter fan to another, if you’ve not made the trip (or you have but you pretended to be too cool for school and took no geeky photos) then get your butt to (or back to) Watford!