So. Last weekend I got to do something pretty exciting. Which you may well have guessed from the title of this post! But – the story starts a little further back than that.
You may remember a post I wrote a couple of months ago, about how, post-Olympics, we were steadily working our way through the Harry Potter box set. Turns out that was something of a scam… my ridiculously long-suffering boyfriend (I have a ream of Harry Potter related “Did You Knows” that I continually forgot he already, err, knows) wanted to make sure we finished them all before my birthday – because he’d secretly booked tickets to the Harry Potter Studio Tour at the Warner Brothers studios in Leavesden!!
Now, I had an inkling. Particularly when, on my birthday, he told me he couldn’t tell me what my present was yet, or when I would find out. A bit of a bummer (it’s not the best to be told on your birthday that you can’t have your present!) but kind of standard procedure when it comes to us and birthdays. I would say our approach is something along the lines of go hard or go home… We like birthdays, and most of all birthday surprises! But I tried to pre-empt him, thinking maybe the Harry Potter thing was a little too obvious… I’d actually come to the conclusion he was double-bluffing (and also starting to worry he’d got me tickets to see Dara O’Briain, which I’d actually got him for our anniversary) when– I, err, got a letter from Hogwarts.
The 10 year old in me would like to interrupt here – I GOT A LETTER FROM HOGWARTS!!!
I don’t think I’ve been that genuinely, joyously excited about something for a LONG time. I was SO excited. Even more excited than I thought I’d be! I love films, and wanted to go into the filmmaking biz for many a year – I just love knowing how they did it all. Chuck in a bit of Harry Potter and this was basically made for me.
I can one hundred percent, one thousand percent say – this tour is amazing. It did not – and how could it!? – disappoint. Even if you aren’t that into Harry Potter (I’m resisting the urge to say “what’s wrong with you?” and will simply refer you to my earlier post) there is just so much to it, and it’s fascinating.
It’s laid out over two enormous soundstages and includes all the sets, costumes, hundreds of props, models, animatronics, artwork, interviews… all the good stuffs. It has the cupboard under the stairs. It has 4 actual Privet Drive – and it really doesn’t feel like a house made of cardboard – it’s like someone picked it up out of the films, out of the books, out of my imagination, and plonked it down in front of me. Yeah. Seeing the house was pretty exciting.
There’s SO much there – stuff you had no idea people spent time and talent putting together just to be in the background of a tiny little scene – stuff you wouldn’t even notice unless someone points it out to you, but all adds together to make the world as real as it looks on the films.
(In my humble opinion, by the way, they’re good films. You may not agree, but just so we’re clear on that.)
Some photos of the best bits:
The Great Hall:
The Hogwarts model:
Tried very hard to pinch one of these (there were loads!):
I could have spent hours wandering around – we were in there for 3 hours and heard someone had been in there for 9 – and I’m sure there was loads we didn’t see. I think my favourite sections were the Privet Drive house, Diagon Alley, and the scale model of Hogwarts, as it really let my film-geeky side come out. I spent hours lapping up the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions back in the day, and always loved the incredibly detailed models they create for those swooping exterior shots. And seeing the “real” Hogwarts castle was… and I don’t really care how lame this is… my 10-year-old-me’s dream come true. <3.
I was a bit worried seeing behind the scenes of it all would ruin the magic, but it doesn’t. If anything it made it more special to me, seeing how they made that magic real. Best birthday present ever. I didn’t want to leave.