The Day of Spazzing, Tears, and Butterbeer: Harry Potter Studio Tours

Hello internet people! It’s been a busy few days, despite the fact that classes are over and I’m just waiting around to take the dreaded British Studies final. But I have something very special and exciting to tell you about today.

I went to the Harry Potter studio tour. To see the actual props and things from the actual movies. That the actual actors actually touched. If you couldn’t tell, the whole experience has left me a little bit speechless, but I’m still going to do my best to give you all a taste of the glory that was the Harry Potter studio tour.

If you’re not a Harry Potter fan, it might be difficult to understand why looking at a bunch of stuff that was used on set (most of which we were decidedly NOT allowed to touch) but if you are I’m sure you’ll understand. What’s even more special for my generation is that we quite literally grew up with Harry Potter. For a great deal of my life, I was roughly the same age as Harry and his friends. I was one of those kids who always had a thick book tucked under her arm and I became one of those teenagers dressed up as a wizard for the midnight premieres of the books and movies.

And then I saw the tour bus and I became a five year old. It was decorated brilliantly in Harry Potter glory, and as we rode to the studio, which was a bit outside London, people on the streets were pointing and taking pictures. I felt like a celebrity. Only a celebrity who spends her rides hyperventilating from uncontainable excitement.

When we got there and I saw the giant building with the letters shining brightly, broadcasting their Harry Potter glory, things got worse before they got better. I actually jumped up and down with joy. It was like I was in third grade again, untying my arm from the bedpost where it was suspended due to major injuries and running down the hall to proclaim that I needed the third Harry Potter book because I had just finished the second. Only with much more Amanda and much more excitement (and no full arm cast).

We got our tickets, complete with vouchers for our souvenir books and audio tours because of COURSE we bought the full package. Then we went inside, where we were greeted by pictures of the cast over the years and a lovely suspended Ford Anglia. The windows of the gift shop took my breath away and I spent a few more minutes in complete freak out mode before I eventually calmed down to be vaugely human and get really impatient that we had to wait until 3, when our tour was supposed to start, to get the show on the road.

Eventually, it was time. We got in line, complete with our bright green lanyards to which our audio guides were attached. The line passed by the one and only cupboard under the stairs, and of course it took a while to get past that point, with all the taking pictures. On the way in they had cast molds of Rupert, Emma, and Daniel’s hands. So of course I ran right up to Rupert’s and stuck my hands in, smiling like the horrifying fangirl I had become for the day (yes, worse than usual). From there, we watched an intro, talking about why the movies got so famous (during which I cried) and then went through into a very fancy little movie theater to watch an intro to the tour itself (which also made me cry). The movie screen rolled up to reveal the doors to the GREAT HALL. There they were, right in front of me.

And then we were inside it. Looking at the tables, looking at costumes, looking at the house point markers. I got out my camera and got to work taking tons of slightly blurry pictures.

From there, we entered into a world of props unlike any other. Costumes from various movies, props including the moving staircases and the remainder of sets like the Gryffindor boys’ dormitory (where I, naturally, posed with Ron’s bed) and the Burrow (where I, naturally, also posed).

I would describe it all to you if I could. Suffice to say, we saw EVERYTHING you could ever imagine. The mirror of Erised. The door to the Chamber of Secrets. The motorbike. Broomsticks and wands galore. The potions classroom. It was all there, up close and in person. And it was, for lack of a better word, absolutely magical.

After a trip through the ministry and Umbridge’s office, we stopped at a glorious prop case that included the Howler and Harry’s original Hogwarts letters (well, some of them) and then we burst out into the “back lot.” Which is where we saw the Ford Anglia, the Knight Bus, and Number 4 Privet Drive. These things you WERE allowed to touch. And touch we did.

We also had a brief stop here to try some Butterbeer, which was non alcoholic and gloriously delicious. From there, we headed into the “creature shop” where we saw various creations, such as dozens of goblin heads, Dobby, Buckbeak, the basilisk, a mermaid, and Aragog. From there, we headed to the one and only DIAGON ALLEY.

The lighting in there was, apparently, exactly as it had been during filming. So basically, dark. Very, very dark. However, we still managed to get a picture in front of Ollivander’s, thanks to the incredibly friendly members of staff who didn’t mind at all obliging the crazed fans by taking their pictures.

Grudgingly, we left Diagon Alley and proceeded to see some gorgeous concept art and models of various sets. And THEN. We burst upon something that nothing in the world could have prepared me for.

We burst upon the massive model of Hogwarts. I had no idea that Hogwarts actually existed on that kind of scale. But there it was, right before my very eyes. Which were, as you may have guessed, exceptionally damp.

Maybe it’s silly. But walking through Diagon Alley and standing in front of HOGWARTS felt in many ways like taking a walk back through my childhood. I could remember who I had been with when I first learned about this or that, who I was sitting next to when I saw that scene from that movie, and so much more. I realized all over again why I will always love Harry Potter. Because it’s MAGIC. Pure magic.

I can never hope to match what JK Rowling has done in writing those books. But I hope that I can be even one little bit of the writer that she is. Because then I’ll really, really be something.

I suppose it has to be mentioned that, after Hogwarts, we found ourselves in the gift shop. My wallet sort of jumped out of my pocket and leapt up on the counter. And this happened.

The perfect ending to a perfect day


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