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Harry Potter Studio Tour


Yesterday I went to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It's expensive, but we got our money's worth, given that we took four hours to get round it all (they estimate it takes three). Although if we'd stopped and watched every video and looked at all the pictures on the audio guide we probably could have spent five hours there (but four was enough).

I took 163 photos (which flickr shows in reverse order and without any of the descriptions, unless you click on each one individually). I'd have taken more, but I got a bit sick of taking photos.

They start off by showing you a short video telling you how the films came to be, then another one introducing it all. Daniel Radcliffe says at the end that you'll never look at Quidditch the same way, so I made sure to pay attention to the Quidditch part of the tour. I ended up disappointed because they filmed it the way I thought they had.

A lot of it is standard stuff when you've seen/read a lot of 'making of' things. What made it stand out were the sets they had and the detail going on - and the descriptions of it all. The audio guide was well worth having, although it used an iPod which drove me up the wall - when I wanted it to do something I had to press it multiple times and when I didn't want it to do something I just accidentally brushed against it and it was suddenly on a different page. So I concluded Apple devices are not for me - they are so temperamental about whether they'll react or not. And it can't just be me because I don't have that problem with my ebook reader.

Anyway, back on the subject of Harry Potter. The first thing you come through is the Great Hall and it is the actual Great Hall. It was pretty big. Then there were some props and costumes and things and lots of people taking photos in front of the gates to Hogwarts. But they're so big it'll just look like they're in front of a gate, because you couldn't get far enough back to get it all in one photo!

Then there's the Gryffindor boy's dormitory, which is actually really small. Amusingly, the beds are 5'9", which was fine when the boys were 11, but by the later films they had to lie in them curled up because they didn't fit any more. Ron's bed has posters of his favourite Quidditch team next to it and a blanket from his mum on the bed.

The Gryffindor common room was very red. They said how it's got old furniture in it to make it look lived-in and old and homely, but they made the furniture sound really uncomfortable. I don't think anyone would like the room much in reality (plus if there are four boys and four girls in each of the seven years it's much too small).

The Potions classroom was quite amazing. They had bunsen burners in there and little gas taps! Around the outside were bottles of various things - in the real classroom they had 1000 of them. A lot of them didn't have names on the labels, some did that we couldn't read, there were only a few that we could. They were very fond of Bouncing Spider Juice, though! In reality they were full of dried herbs and things and when the actors needed to drink potions they were soup (carrot and coriander were favourites).

Dumbledore's office was full of gold scientific instruments in cabinets and then had his telescope at the back. It was just very gold really.

There was a whole thing about the animals in the films. There were four cats who played Crookshanks, and of those wanted to be carried all the time and would rather be carried than work. Another would only work when they wanted to, which sounds like cats in general to me. They found that an owl is too heavy for an 11 year old boy to hold on his arm, so they had to rig up a special harness. And they also found that the letters they made were too heavy for the owls to carry!

They only had one version of Hagrid's hut here, but in reality they had two - one to make him look normal size and everyone else small, and one to make him look big and everyone else normal size.

They had quite a few mechanical things. Like Lupin's luggage - you just pressed a button and all the drawers etc came out - then after a bit went back in again. And the door to the Chamber of Secrets (with the snakes moving back) was mechnical, not CGI.

The Weasley's house was all built to make it look like Arthur Weasley had made it himself. So they pushed and pulled everything to make it so it wasn't straight. The clock was originally an old grandfather clock - they took the mechanism out and used scissors for the hands representing the family members. They said that you couldn't be too detailed with props because they thought it wouldn't matter and just shoved in a ordinary cushion. Then in the film Arthur Weasley sat down and picked up a cream cushion that was the whitest thing in the room and didn't match with anything else in it at all.

Voldemort's Muggle-oppressing monument was good, as was the Ministry of Magic atrium. Umbrage's office was horribly pink, but for some reason my camera took a photo of it looking quite blue (which was much nicer!). Another good reason to have the audio guide was that it included photos of the kittens they used for the kitten plates - they were very sweet, and adopted afterwards by people who had no idea what their new kittens had been up to!

There was a display of things they'd created, like pages for The Daily Prophet and The Quibbler, the Marauder's Map (which you could buy in the shop for £30!) and the Black family tapestry.

After all that lot we had a short break in the back lot, where they had refreshements, including Butterbeer. We tasted some and it tasted like toffee/caramel. It was a bit much when you had a sip, but after a minute the aftertaste was really nice. I'm not sure what was in it (but there was some milk in the head) but it was just too sweet to have more than a couple of sips of. Out on the back lot they had the Ford Anglia, the Knight Bus, and houses on Privet Drive, among other things.

Back inside was The Creature Shop, where they built various creatures and masks etc and the Art Department with sketches and models. The models all being white made me think that these days they could be 3D printed.

There was also Diagon Alley, which was very cool to walk down, but impossible to take good photos of because it was dark and full of people.

Right near the end was an amazing, massive model of Hogwarts which definitely didn't fit all in one photo, but you could walk all round it. They said on the audio guide that there would be a surprise waiting at the next stop and I was definitely not expecting that!

Somehow I managed to only spend £30 in the shop. I was very tempted to buy a wand (Hermione's was my favourite), but they were expensive and would just sit in a box collecting dust. I did buy some peppermint toads on the basis that they didn't have milk in and a t-shirt. Since the children's t-shirts were £2 cheaper than the adult's I tried a couple on and found that according to their size chart I fitted an age 8-9 t-shirt. The average 8-9 year old must be tall and fat these days if that's true - I'm small, but I'm not that small.

Mirrored from my blog.


( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 20th, 2013 08:26 am (UTC)
Now this has me a bit jealous - that all sounds quite nice. Shall have to look through the pictures once I get through with Ithilwen's vacation.
Dec. 19th, 2013 09:13 am (UTC)
I've been meaning to come back to this post for months - and WOW. Those pictures are incredibly cool! It sounds like such an amazing experience - I hope I get to go there someday!
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )