I went to London this past weekend, and I had the best time I have ever had in London, so I just have to tell you guys all about it.
My weekend started with a trip to the Harry Potter set at the Warner Brothers studios in Leavesden. To get there from the centre of London, you need to take a Tube (that’s what British people call the London Underground/subway system, because the tunnels are round like tubes) to Euston Train Station. Then take a train to Watford Junction, where you can take a Knight Bus (it’s actually just a normal bus, covered in Harry Potter decorations) straight to the studio.
I have been thinking a lot about how much to tell you guys, because I don’t want to ruin it for those of you who haven’t been there, but want to go and see it all for themselves. So, I am not going to give away too much, so that you can discover the secrets for yourself. However, if you want me to tell you more just contact me (anyway you like on the ‘Connect’ Page) and I will do so without spoiling it for anyone else.
Here are a couple of photos of the outside of the studios. The chess pieces are the actual ones used in Harry Potter and the Philosophers Stone, and are made out of plastic. They are one of the very few things you can actually touch. The studios are still used to make films, and they have stages A-K (stages are what they call each separate area used for filming), so the Harry Potter studio tour is situated in the last two stages, so that the rest of the studios can still be used to make other films. So if you haven’t figured it out already, that means the Harry Potter studio tour is in stages J and K. Apparently that is purely coincidence, but a good one.
As you go in there is a café that sells some really nice food, I was starving when I got there so had a nice sausage sandwich. And the queue wasn’t very long, so I didn’t have to wait long to get in. The first thing that happens is that you watch a short video about how it all started, then you go into a cinema to watch another film staring Dan, Rupert, and Emma. I won’t say what happens at the end of the film, but it is truly amazing! It was one of the highlights for me.
The first part of the set you come to is the Great Hall, which has a real stone floor; built to endure all the hundreds of cast and crew, and now the thousands of fans, who walk over it every day. The detail that has gone into it is amazing; just remember to look at the back of the door, and the huge lights all around the walls. I won’t say why, but you’ll love it, just keep an eye out for anything to do with your house.
After you have left the Great Hall, you come into a large room that is full of various pieces of set and props that were use in the films. This includes Dumbledore’s office, the Gryffindor Common Room and the Boys Dormitory, the Potions Class Room, The Burrow, Hagrid’s Hut, and several more. There is also a green screen area, where you can have a photo of yourself flying in Mr. Weasley’s car, and flying a broom. You even get to wear wizard robes, and they have the colours for each house to choose from (they will give you a random house, but if you ask for a specific one they will change it for you). They also make a DVD of you flying so it looks like you are flying over Hogwarts and the lake, and through London like in Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix.
The next part is The Hogwarts Express, and you can actually go into one of the carrias and see each compartment set up how it was in each film, and there’s another chance to get some photos and DVD’s of yourself crossing the barrier onto Platform 9 ¾ and riding the train to Hogwarts.
This is about half way through the tour, and you can stop for a break in a restaurant, that actually sells butterbeer, and butterbeer ice cream! You also get good views (and can sit outside in nice weather) of the ‘back lot’ (which means an outside space used for filming). Once you have had a little rest, you can go outside to see the set of Privet Drive, the Knight Bus, the Potter House where Voldemort tried to kill Harry, and part of the bridge from Hogwarts that the students destroyed in the last film to defend the castle.
Once back inside you get to see a lot of the behind the scenes stuff; like how the magical creatures were made, and some of the secrets you discover will surprise you. My favourite was the full size model of a Thestral, and another of Dobby. Then after that you walk around a corner onto the set of Diagon Alley. It was another highlight of the tour for me, because I have always want to walk down the street and look in all of the shops like Harry did with Hagrid in the first film. You can’t go inside them, as they are just the shop fronts, but it’s still really cool.
What happens next is the last part of the tour, but I am not going to tell you what it is, because it will take your breath away! All I will say is that everyone who has ever wished for a Hogwarts letter to arrive by Owl Post and go to study magic at Hogwarts, will never want to leave this room!
And don’t worry, before you leave there is a huge shop that sells EVERYTHING Harry Potter. So along with the photo opportunities and the butterbeer, and the shop, you’ll need to save your pocket money. I brought Ginny’s wand, a chocolate frog (which comes with a Chocolate Frog Card), and some Bertie Bot’s Every Flavour Beans. I know have Dumbledore card, a Gryffindor card, and a Quirill card.
I have wanted to go to the studios ever since they opened, and in the past month I have been twice. The first time was a few weeks ago, when I drove there, and I met up with Wren (one of my great friends from Ravenclaw), her daughter from Slytherin, and their friend Antelope from Hufflepuff. We had such a great time, and if I ever had to fight off a dementor with a Patronus Charm that day would be a happy memory I would use to summon my patronus, who I think would be a tortoise.
I also wanted to tell you a little about the rest of my weekend in London. On Saturday I went to the Tower of London. I’ve seen it a few times when I’ve been to London but this was the first time I have been inside. It is a building ingrained into the identity of the United Kingdom dating back almost 1000 years, built by William the Conqueror. I went on a guided tour given by a beefeater (the nickname for the Yeoman Guards who protect the castle and the English Crown Jewels stored there. Scotland has their own Crown Jewels from a time when they had their own royal family, which are kept in Edinburgh Castle and are older than the English Crown Jewels because the originals were destroyed during the English Civil War). He was very funny, and his tour was free (though you have to pay to get in), so I would recommend it if you go there.
For my friend Blackthorn, whom I know is reading Shakespeare at the moment; here is a photo of The Globe Theatre that I took from a cruise of the River Thames:
Saturday was also St. George’s Day, who is the patron saint of England, and there was party being held at Trafalgar Square. There was lots of great food and performances, and there was a really great atmosphere.
On Sunday, the London Marathon was held on the streets of London, which made London incredibly busy, even by London’s standards, and I stood on Tower Bridge with all of the crowds to watch the race and went to Buckingham Palace to watch some of the racers cross the finish line..
So that’s the end of my post, and I only hope that you enjoyed it. Don’t forget to ask if you want to know anything else about the Harry Potter studio tour.
“A loving heart is the beginning of all knowledge.” Thomas Carlyle.