So it’s official! I have been to Hogwarts!
As I’m sure a lot of people (or most of the population) can understand, Harry Potter is a big deal. Especially in my household, growing up with both the books and the films, waiting for each instalment was the only thing that kept my young and over-imaginative self going as I not so patiently waited for my own letter. So you can imagine the excitement when on Valentines Day, I found out that I was finally going to get a chance to see Hogwarts for myself!
That’s right, I was going all the way to Watford for the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour. Now, I won’t lie, I’ve been dreaming of going ever since it was opened, so my expectations, they were HIGH. I was so excited, I woke up so early (now this was actually about 8am, which all you students will agree is basically the middle of the night) and spent the whole train journey wondering what my day would entail.
What makes this tour so unique and special, both for Potterheads like myself and those mere muggles (who just don’t get it) is that everything you see has been used or made for the movies themselves. That means literally everything, you get to see parts of the sets, loads and loads of props and even the costumes and wigs that were worn by the cast. So really, when you think about it, you actually are in actual Hogwarts…
Obviously, this post wouldn’t be complete without a photo of the castle itself, the place all us future wizards and witches are destined to visit. The detail on the model is absolutely amazing, as it just looks so real. It was amazing to see how a model was made to look like an actual castle for the films.
Of course, you actually need to get to Hogwarts, so running through to Platform 9 3/4 to my none Southern looking (and on time) train was an absolute must. Again, the whole tour is full of authentic sets and props but having these little interactive parts for everyone to enjoy really tops off the wizarding experience! Of course, running through to the Hogwarts Express wasn’t the only interactive activity, as you also get the opportunity to ride a broomstick (WARNING: bad hair days are consequence!) take lessons in casting spells and you can even take a ride on the train. Unfortunately these are a little expensive if you’d like to keep them, but there isn’t a rule saying you have to buy them, so you can still try it out for the fun! Plus, they have this little cart so you can take your own picture for free (you just don’t get a school house scarf and a wind machine to take the picture with).
The tour also wouldn’t be complete without seeing where it all began in the first place. This was amazing to see as they recreated that famous letter scene inside the living room, where you were able to explore the Dursley residence and see that dreaded cupboard under the stairs.
We were also led into the Great Hall, where they filmed some of the most famous school scenes. I loved how they had the original costumes displayed as characters so you could get a feel of what they would have looked like actually being there. Of course, as you make your way around the tour there are lots of boards and videos with tonnes and tonnes of information on how the sets were built, how much time they took and what happened during filming. If you get fed up of videos or that tall guy always getting in the way, there were so many different people to talk to all the way round, and everyone really seemed to know their stuff as they really are genuine fans of both the books and the films.
One of the most special parts for me, was not only being able to see the genuine sets used in the films, but also the costumes. The costumes were part of the characters and the fact that they were all genuine and displayed with such pride was a really lovely touch! My favourite costumes have to be the wooly jumpers given to Harry and Ron by Mrs Weasley (I remember begging my mom to knit me one with a big S in the middle) and Hermione’s ball gown from The Goblet of Fire- hello, I’ve never seen someone pull of so many pink frills as well as Emma Watson did in this dress (except maybe Ron, with his frilly hand-me-down suit of course!)
Another special part that I’m sure is close to many hearts, is the model of Dobby. Now, I am a crier. Always have been and always will be. It doesn’t take a lot to make me cry, but never in my entire life, had I ever cried at a book, until I read The Deathly Hallows. I had waited so long to read the book, as we had only bought one copy and I had promised to let my mom read it first, then my dad, until it was finally my turn. I will always remember being on holiday, on that Spanish beach, running in the sea with my eyes open so it wouldn’t be obvious that I had cried. Of course, seeing the model of Dobby, covered in blood brought back some painful memories, but my 21 year old self managed to keep it together!
The last part of the tour took you to the great Diagon Alley and a look in Olivander’s wand shop. This also felt special, as when I was a little girl I always wanted to go into the fireplace and get my own wand. The best part about Olivander’s was that each and every wand had a name on the box, and each and every name was someone who took part in the making of the films. That was directors, producers, casting, design, building, paintwork, graphics, every single person that was involved (as you can see there are a LOT of wands here!) I even managed to find the name of the actor who played one of my favourite characters, Alan Rickman. I was so sad when it came to finding his name and realising that it really was all over and such a great actor is no longer with us.
Overall, I had an absolutely fab experience, and would recommend it to anyone who wants and even doesn’t really want to go. It shows such an insight into how the most popular film franchise was made and shows how much hard work was put into making some really fantastic books a reality for so many kids. It made me smile looking around and seeing that there really was no average age of people there, even though I feel like I grew up with Harry Potter, so many more kids are still growing up with Hogwarts now, and even adults have such a strong connection to what was essentially a children’s novel. I have a lot of admiration for J.K Rowling and the many lives she has touched, and for creating a world that so many people feel a part of!
(I had to include this picture of my little friend, especially as it shows how truly little and cute Dobby was- this is me at a measly 5ft 3)