So this week I did something very cool, on Monday, me and two of my friends (and future housemates) from uni went to the Harry Potter Studios for my friend Nicola’s 19th Birthday. How was it you ask? Well I’ll tell you. It was awesome! I have been wanting to go to the Harry Potter Studios for years and it was so great to get to go with my uni friends (who I haven’t seen all summer because they live in Northern Ireland and Scotland respectively) and celebrate Nicola’s birthday together.
We had come down to London on Sunday and stayed in a youth hostel the previous night as our tour was pretty early on Monday and Nicola and Rebecca were both coming from further away than I was. We got up early on Monday morning (which none of us were particularly happy about because we had to share a room with a man who snored very loudly but I digress) and gave Nicola her birthday presents. I got her two books from YALC, A Monster Calls (which was signed by Patrick Ness) and This Savage Song (which was signed and personalised as I knew Nicola liked Victoria Schwab) and Rebecca got her a Captain Hook Funko Pop, a lipstick that changes colour to match your skin tone and a pretty rose gold bracelet with an N on it.
Once we had given Nicola her presents we got dressed and ready to leave. I realised I couldn’t find my earrings and we scoured the room for them trying to find them but we couldn’t (I did find them later, they’d just got stuck at the bottom of my bag) so we left, figuring we’d find them later (which we did). We then went to a McDonalds around the corner to have breakfast, I had pancakes and hot chocolate, Nicola and Rebecca had hash browns and coffee. We missed our train at Euston because I had to get something at Kings Cross first (sorry guys!) but we ended up getting one ten minutes later, so it wasn’t too much of a disaster.
When we arrived at Watford Junction, we ran to get the special Shuttle Bus to the Harry Potter Studios. We did get it and it didn’t take very long before we’d arrived at the studios. The queue outside was quite long but it moved quickly and soon we were inside (after having been checked by security). Once inside, Rebecca went to stand in the queue, Nicola went to check our coats in the cloakroom. We all met up back in the queue, which was also long, but we managed to entertain ourselves by looking at the photos of the actors around the room and the flying Ford Anglia (attached to strings) in the lobby. We also took pictures of the interior of Harry’s cupboard. Then we finally got to the front of the queue and were led into a dark room filled with posters from the movies in different languages. A woman called Alice gave us a quick introduction to the tour and told us some things to look out for as we were going round and then we were led into a cinema. We watched a short movie where Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson gave us an introduction to the tour and then it was time for the tour to start.
Because it was Nicola’s birthday, she and another girl (whose birthday was also on Monday) got to open the doors to the Great Hall which was really cool (sadly neither Rebecca or I got a picture). We then got to walk through the Great Hall and see all sorts of cool things, the House tables, the fireplace, the House Cup counters (apparently they caused a bead shortage in the Czech Republic because they needed so many), the teachers table and we also got to see some of the cast’s outfits which was cool.
After going through the Great Hall, we were lead into another big room. In this there were lots of other cool set pieces. We got to see Harry, Ron, Hermione, Cho and Krum’s outfits from the Yule Ball. We also got to see the really cool centrepiece from the Yule Ball and all of the deserts (sadly none real). We also got to see the floating candles which I assume were used to create the ceiling of the Great Hall. Then we walked further round the room and got to see some of the outfits and wigs used in the movie (my favourites were Luna’s and Bellatrix’s, they were so long!).
Further into the second big room and there were more set pieces. First we saw the outer gates of Hogwarts and then we saw the Gryffindor Boy’s dormitory. They had a big case with a selection of the wands used in the films which was really cool. After that we saw the Mirror of Erised and the Fat Lady portrait. We also got to see the Gryffindor Common Room which was one of my favourite set pieces (though honestly, I loved them all). We were told by Alice at the beginning to make sure that we kept looking up throughout the tour as lot of things were hidden up high and in the Gryffindor common room, if you looked up at the high ledge, there were a few of the Golden Trio’s costumes. Past the Gryffindor Common Room we got to see more outfits, the Golden Trio’s outfits and Harry’s Invisibility Cloak as well as outfits that belonged to Tonks, Lupin and Sirius. We also saw the big clock from Prisoner of Azkaban and the Triwizard Cup and Golden Egg from Goblet of Fire as well as more of the Golden Trio’s outfits.
We then got to see Dumbledore’s office which was really cool, my favourite part was getting to see the door to his office (the Griffin Door) but we also got to see the memory cabinet and the Pensieve.
As we walked further round we got to see more props, like the Harp from the first movie which put Fluffy to sleep. We got to see the Potions Classroom which was really cool, but unfortunately because it was so dark, the pictures I got of it weren’t very good. We also got to see a lot of the portraits from the movies which was really cool, I couldn’t believe how many they had that were hand painted! After that we saw Hagrid’s Hut which was another really cool set piece.
We saw other cool set pieces as we walked around the big studio, like the snake door entrance to the Chamber of Secrets, the door of a Gringotts Vault, the moving staircase, a Gringott’s Cart, Hagrid’s motorbike, a broomstick, trophies, Lupin’s case, Moody’s trunk, quidditch outfits, more brooms and The Goblet of Fire. It’s amazing how much stuff they have!
After that we saw my personal favourite set of the day, the Burrow. It was so cool and they even had buttons you could press so you could see the frying pan wash itself and the ironing do itself and the knife chop the carrots, it really did feel like magic! It was a really cool set to get to see because The Burrow has always been one of my favourite Harry Potter places (this is all in the same room by the way, the last few paragraphs, the room was absolutely gigantic).
Once we had seen that, we saw another case of props, this time it was the horcruxes. I particularly like the diadem of Ravenclaw, it’s really pretty up close. We got to see the set of the meeting of the Death Eaters from Deathly Hallows Part 1, which was really cool, they even had a model Nagini! They also had a collection of props from Borgin and Burkes, which was all really creepy. This was another place where we had to look up as high above the studio floor, they had Tom Riddle Sr’s gravestone from the graveyard scene in Goblet of Fire. We then got to see the Black family tapestry which was possible one of my favourite props, it’s amazing how much detail they put into it.
We then got to see the Ministry of Magic set, which was really cool, especially the horrible muggle statue that Hermione finds so distasteful in the film, it’s a lot easier to see why when you see it up close. Then we saw Umbridge’s office which was a cacophony of pink, and her outfits (same thing). One of the things I found especially cool was that there were tiny skulls on the bows of one of her dresses which obviously you wouldn’t see on screen but you could see up close.
After that we saw lots of other cool set pieces and props, Umbridge’s educational decrees, death eater masks, a model centaur and even a dementor. Once we had made it to the end of the large studio, we sat down for a break before moving on to the next room. There was this really pretty mural on the wall outside the toilets that I just had to take a picture of because it was so pretty. Whilst we were sitting down, we looked at each other’s pictures and I realised I had missed something as we were going around so I ran back to look at it. It was a case of really cool props from the movies and I’m glad I was able to go back and take a picture.
We then moved on to the next room, which was one of my favourites of the day (I know I keep saying that, but honestly, it’s true). This was the room with the Hogwarts Express! We got to go on the train and take pictures of the interior carriage sets. We also got to have our pictures professionally done in carriage sets (though not the ones in the actual train) and we were pretty terrible at acting to the green screen. We also finally got our Platform 9 3/4 picture (since the queues were ridiculous at Kings X and you had to pay!). After that, Nicola bought one of the better of our Hogwarts Express pictures, she picked up a birthday badge and we had a quick look around the 9 3/4 shop. One of the coolest things on the Hogwarts Express (because I like the little details) was that they had the heart that Lavender drew on the misted up train window in Half Blood Prince). We also got to see the sweet trolley and models of Harry, Ginny, Hermione and Ron from the 19 Years Later Epilogue.
Once we had finished in the Hogwarts Express room, we walked through a corridor, where there was a display case with lots of cool props, including the Marauders Map and then out to the Backlot Cafe. We bought Butterbeer and then went and sat down for a well deserved break. I have some very sad news for you all, Butterbeer, yeah it’s not that great. In fact it’s actually kind of gross. But at least I paid for the souvenir mug so I got something out of it.
After we had washed out our Butterbeer mugs, we went out to the backlot. We got to see the Knight Bus and Privet Drive. We actually got to go inside Privet Drive which was really awesome (especially all the letters in the living room). We also saw the Wizard’s Chess board and pieces, the Weasley’s Ford Anglia, The Potters’ House & the bridge where Lupin talks to Harry in Prisoner of Azkaban.
We then went into the Creatures Room. This room had all sorts of magical creatures from the movies in it. We saw Grawp, Dobby, Fawkes, Hedwig, Buckbeak, Thestrals etc. They also had Luna’s lion hat in there which I thought was really cool. They also had a model of Aragog in there, which completely freaked me out because I hate spiders, even stuffed ones, so I almost screamed and then Buckbeak moved which freaked me out even more and then I actually did squeal a little, which my friends thought was hilarious (me, not so much).
Our next stop was Diagon Alley, which was absolutely incredible! I loved getting to walk down it and see all of the shops, particularly Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. Diagon Alley was truly magical, I mean the rest of the tour was amazing too but there was something about Diagon Alley that made it just that little bit more special.
After we walked through Diagon Alley, we went into a room filled with small scale models of sets from the movie which was really cool because you got to see where all of the big sets that you had seen earlier originally came from. I couldn’t take as many pictures as I would have liked because my IPod battery was running out, but I’m glad I saved it because the next room was without a doubt the most incredible of the tour.
The next room was probably the best one of the tour. In it was a full scale model of Hogwarts. It was dark in the room but the model was lit up. It’s hard to describe for people who haven’t seen it but it was truly magical. I’ll have pictures of it later on in the post. We spent a while in that room just admiring the model because it was so beautiful and I took pictures of it from every angle!
The last room was kind of an anti-climax after the big Hogwarts model, I mean it was nice, but it was just the interior of Ollivander’s with lots of stacked boxes of wands. We also got to see the Philosopher’s stone up close which was really cool, especially since it glowed in the dark.
After we had finished the tour, we went into the gift shop. Rebecca and Nicola bought more than me, even getting their own wands each, but since it’s nearly the end of summer and I’m kind of broke, I tried to restrain myself (tried being the operative word, I still spent almost £44). I got a Hufflepuff Notebook (it’s black and leather bound with the Hufflepuff crest and it’s so pretty!), a Deathly Hallows necklace, a Deathly Hallows keyring, a chocolate wand and several postcards. I would have liked to have bought a house scarf or t-shirt or hoodie or cushion or something like that but everything was so expensive! I would have got a wand but they were £26.00!
Once we were done with our shopping spree, we went into the cafe to get lunch, which was really nice, I had a pretzel filled with ham and cheese and a chocolate orange trifle. Sadly once we’d finished lunch, our day was over and we had to leave (though not before promptly forgetting our coats in the cloakroom and having to rush back in to get them). Then we went to get the shuttle bus again and our amazing day was over.
We had an incredibly bookish weekend actually, as we went to Foyles, The House of Minimalia and The Cursed Child Theatre on Sunday, The Harry Potter Studios on Monday and Rebecca and I (as Nicola had an early train back on Tuesday) went to Baker Street and the Sherlock Holmes Musuem on Tuesday (I am now the proud owner of the Complete Sherlock Holmes, thanks Rebecca!) as well as The British Library. All in all, it was a pretty great few days!
Here is just a small sample of the pictures I took at the Studios:
(Honestly, this really is just a small snapshot of the photos I took, I have so many more!)
Okay so anyone else been to the Harry Potter Studios? Did you have just as amazing a time as I did? What was your favourite bit (if you’ve been?)? If you haven’t been, would you like to go? Let me know in the comments!
I will have a new discussion post for you guys, hopefully tomorrow and I think I might have another Thursday Quotables for you guys later on (maybe!).