Posts Tagged With: harry potter

The Most Magical Place on Earth: WB’s Potter Studio Tour


Butterbeer mustaches = a must.

Forget Disney. I could visit the WB studio tour over and over and over and over and over… (First visit blog post here.)
Along with the theme parks, of course. My second visit to the studio tour was no less magical than my first. We got tickets that included the audio guides and souvenir guidebooks. I absolutely love the audio guides. Sitting on the overground to Watford Junction, we saw a few other families who were also on their way to the tour. And I was just as ecstatic as the first time around. Skipping. Giggling. The whole nine yards.

The experience itself was also just as brilliant the second time around. They estimate that visitors will spend an average of 2.5 hours inside the tour, but Kate and I were there for 4 whole hours. We didn’t get bored at all. 13522840_10206721511943588_4997574288365891661_o (1)

The newest exhibit I hadn’t seen yet was the Hogwarts Express. They had it set up
perfectly, with smoke billowing around the red train. You get to walk through the carriages, with each compartment set up as they had been in different scenes. They even have mood lighting! This section of the soundstage is why you definitely want to book an early entry time – the earlier you get in, the fewer people there will be. I wouldn’t want to be standing in a late afternoon line to get through the Hogwarts Express…. or to get on the brooms!

IMG_2864It might just be impossible (for me, anyway) to resist the green screen brooms. I had regretted not getting the mp4 of my broom flight the first time around… so this time I sprung for it, along with two other pictures. Don’t we look happy? Who wouldn’t? We were in a flying Ford Anglia!

Another new addition to the studio tour was BUTTERBEER ICE CREAM. Yes, you saw that correctly: butterbeer ice cream. It may just have been the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted, and if I hadn’t already downed so much sugar between that and my glass of butterbeer, I would have gone for a second cone. If you even remotely like ice cream and you are in the studio tour: get it. You won’t regret it. IMG_2866

The actual butterbeer is still great, of course. Even if I prefer the frozen version of the theme parks. (Some pumpkin juice for sale also wouldn’t be amiss. Something to think about, maybe, Leavesden?)

We also happened to get tickets for the last few days of the Privet Drive exhibit. We were able to walk through the entryway of that perfectly normal Number 4 house… And it looked as if the post had just arrived via fireplace. Dudley had his many awards hung on the walls, and it was very Dursley-ish. (But what else would you expect?)


No post on Sundays!

And, of course, the behind-the-scenes exhibits are always fascinating. The detailed paper models, full-scale sets, and costumes all show just how much effort it took to pull off an 8-movie franchise. But my favorite room is still the gigantic Hogwarts model, under dramatic lighting, with a ramp all the way around. Kate and I both got a little emotional on the long walk around the room.

My next goal is to travel to London over Christmas, so I can see Hogwarts in the snow.

I still say that the studio tour is a must-see for any Harry Potter fan who happens to travel to London. It’s definitely worth the cost of the ticket.


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The Elephant House


Since I never made it to The Elephant House the first time I was in Edinburgh, I definitely had to go this time. Especially after all my Potter sightseeing in London.


Potter wall art.

It just so happened that we were all hungry, so I insisted we eat at the cafe. Of course, they have a giant sign out front proclaiming themselves the “birthplace of Harry Potter.” While I know it is probably in their best interests to exaggerate that fact, I still actually really enjoyed eating there. You could see the school that supposedly “inspired” Hogwarts from the window… as well as the cemetery where Rowling apparently got some character names.

(Dad had to run back to our apartment after we ate to grab something, so mom and I ran down to the cemetery to find some names! We did indeed find the headstone of Thomas Riddell Esq., as well as a McGonagall and others.)

Within the cafe… the main Potter “attraction” was definitely the toilets… I went in mainly to take pictures. Countless people had signed the walls, written down quotes and references, and generally covered every available surface with words and drawings. It was hilarious when mom came running back to our table after she discovered it, and told me I needed to take my camera into the bathroom.

(The mirror told me, “You have dirt on your nose, did you know? Just there.” Complete with an arrow pointing at my face.)


So. Much. Writing.

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Warner Brothers Studio Tour (AKA, the Magical Harry Potter Studio Tour)

4 midnight movie premieres. (1 in costume.)
1 midnight book release.
6 books read in 2 weeks, and the 7th in 2 days. Plus multiple re-reads.
2 trips to the most magical place on earth, the Wizarding World in Florida.

And now… 3.5 magical hours at the Leavesden studios where the 8 Potter movies were filmed.


I asked the one intern left with me in the office (well, this Saturday was his last day, so now I am the only intern left) to go with me, because fangirling alone is just not as fun as fangirling with a friend, even if that friend isn’t quite as enthusiastic about Potter as you are. Vincent as my witness, I was skipping and bouncing on the way to the tour, and at several points during the tour. I checked my phone for the time at each Overground stop on the 40 minute ride to Watford Junction. I was telling myself to not hyperventilate. (Yes, much excitement.)

IMG_2074I have been waiting to go on this studio tour since I realized they were opening it up to the public. I knew I had to come as soon as I was accepted into my intern abroad program. And as you might be able to guess, it definitely lived up to expectations! Seeing original sets, costumes, props, models, designs, and effects was amazing. There was an intro video recorded by the trio, of course, and we entered the tour through the great hall set. (Unfortunately, we could not see the sky in the ceiling.)

Daniel’s first ever set of robes (and that pointy hat!), along with other tiny wardrobe pieces, was adorable. One of my favorite sections, of course, was the green screen section. I got to sit on a broom and fly through different scenes. (The employee made me mount the broom from the right side though. It felt really awkward, especially when trying not to trip on my huge Ravenclaw robe. Which I specifically asked for after they tried to hand me a Gryffindor one.) Once I have access to a decent scanner, those pictures WILL  be up. The other great interactive section of the tour was getting a chance to follow video instructions from the set’s wand combat
IMG_2098coordinator/coach. I had Hermione’s wand (since Ginny’s wasn’t available, and my favorite is a toss up between the two) and I’m pretty sure I could have taken the 12 year olds that went before me in a wizard’s duel. (That video is already up.)

I had to get some butterbeer, of course (though they didn’t offer it frozen, which is my favorite from the park). Their back lot had the outdoor sets, like the wooden bridge at Hogwarts, Number 4 Privet Drive (where everything was perfectly normal, thank you very much), the Knight Bus (which looked way better than taking a plain night bus), and Goderic’s Hollow. If I allow myself, I’ll just excitedly list everything. But I won’t. But all in all, it was seriously fantastic. The behind the scenes prop design 20140830_203217and makeup prep was fascinating, too. And seeing all the paper set models was amazing. There is a lot of talent on display at the studio. The absolute BEST model was the giant Hogwarts castle they used with green screen for exterior shots during the movies. Music was playing, there was dramatic lighting, and it was so incredibly detailed.

I was still (literally) skipping along with excitement when we left. (I was suddenly 12 again. For the entire day.)

The ONLY thing that disappointed me: You could not hear Moaning Myrtle in the bathroom, like you do at the theme park. (How hard is it to rig up a few extra speakers?)

Now – who is ready for a Potter movie marathon?! I’ve already been listening to the soundtrack nonstop.

“I solemnly swear I am up to no good.”



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