My oldest friend’s sister is five years older than both of us, so she was the perfect age to read the Harry Potter books as soon as they came out. We were the perfect age to beg and plead with our parents about when we could read them because she made them sound so fantastic. My mum began reading them, and letting me read them once. By the time the Order of the Phoenix came out, I was reading them on my own, and adoring every last syllable of them. The final film was released the year before I turner 18, and nothing made me feel like I was growing up more. Harry Potter most definitely has not been left in my childhood though, in fact, for my twentieth birthday my parents took me to the WB Studios Tour in Watford, and last week, I went back!!
One of my flatmates, and now good friends, is from America. As a huge Harry Potter fan, she’s been dying to go to the WB Studios, and I was never going to say no. From Leicester, we had to get the train to Birmingham, then to Watford, then the shuttle bus to the studios. Even with everything running perfectly on time, four trains and two buses meant leaving our flat at 8:30am, and returning at 11:30pm – long ass day. BUT SO FRICKING WORTH IT.
Honestly, I know many may think that seeing all the behind the scenes stuff my ruin the magic of it all, but it really adds to it. You get to see all the effort and creativity that went into every last part of the films, and how many elements of it they actually built. Buckbeak is real people!!
They say to give yourselves around 3 hours for the tour, and I would agree that that’s pretty much exactly the time you need, plus maybe half an hour in the shop. Be warned, you will want to buy EVERYTHING.
The first place you get to see is the Great Hall:
(We went decked in all the Harry Potter paraphernalia we own, and were not the only ones)
Next, you get to meander through all of the props and sets that were built. It really is extraordianary how much detail was added to everything, us Harry Potter fans were spoiled by the incredible skills of those involved in the films’ making.
Here’s just one tiny area of this section, as I don’t want to give too much away! Towards the end of this part, you can have your photos taken on a broom by yourself, or in groups. When I went with my parents, the group photo was in the flying Ford Anglia, but when I went yesterday, it was on an ‘Undesirable No. 1’ poster – both fab! Then, comes a section I hadn’t seen before and almost brought me to tears:
THE HOGWARTS EXPRESS. IT’S REAL. You can walk through one of the carriages, and each of the booths have relevant items in from each of the films. I honestly can’t describe the feeling of seeing the train, it really made me emotional. From the train, you enter the Backlot Cafe where you can get Butterbeer (too sweet for me), and Butterbeer ice cream – absolutely delicious! It’s like really thick vanilla infused with toffee. From the Cafe, is the back lot which has the Knight Bus, chess pieces from the Philosopher’s Stone, Godric’s Hollow, Hogwarts Bridge, and Number 4 Privet Drive. Then back inside you go for one of the most iconic parts of the tour:
Diagon Alley is also real!! The designers and creators put an astounding amount of detail into this set. Every single window is packed full of appropriate items, and the Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes figure actually raises his top hat to you! Walking down here has you wear the exact same expression of awe that Harry does when Hagrid takes him to get his school supplies for the first time. The intricacies behind these set designs are shown in even more detail by the architectural drawings, and models in the following room. Then there is the finale, the piece de resistance;
Hogwarts itself. Absolutely stunning.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan and haven’t been to the studios, GET THERE. If you’re a fan of film and haven’t been to the studios, GET THERE. If you’re someone who appreciates beauty and haven’t been to the studios, GET THERE. The Harry Potter books, films, music, and all that went into them are beautifully stunning pieces of art that I could not be more grateful for. It’s a fantastic story that we can learn so much from, and bond with others over. It’s an invaluable phenomena that I hope the wonder of lasts for generations. I know I’ll be reading these stories to my children and grandchildren, in the hope that they do the same.