It was my birthday last June and my lovely husband bought me tickets to the Harry Potter studio tour in Watford. To say I was happy would probably be the understatement of the year!
Tim got the tickets last year, so I have been patiently (read: annoying Tim every few days by telling him how excited I am) waiting for the day to arrive, as I was going on my actual birthday. I couldn’t think of anything better than spending the day looking at awesome Potterstuffs.
I awoke early and donned my outfit as previously planned, including my new Qwertee Harry Potter t-shirt.
We arrived around midday and stopped for a coffee (and a quick check to see if my hands were the same size as Radders, which they are!) before joining the queue, although it doesn’t feel much like a queue, they have little bits and bobs for you to look at while you’re waiting including the cupboard under the stairs and a few family portraits waiting on the walls for you to nosey at. They stagger it out quite well so that there aren’t too many people in the queue at any one time.
You are then shown into a small room with screens on the walls displaying posters from across the world for all of the films (which was pretty cool) and they then show you a little film on those screens about the series of films and how they came about to be make. Then the lady asked if it was anyone’s birthday….
So I shot my hand up straight into the air.
“me, me, it’s my birthday!”
“well happy birthday, and what’s your name?”
“and how old are you Stacey?”
“32! I am 32 TODAY”!
“…….oh, and is there anyone else?”
“It’s Amy’s birthday today”
Lady looks in Amy’s direction
“Well, I won’t ask how old you are….”
“I’m only 26!”
Sorry to say, that did brighten my day a little!
We were then shown through to a cinema where Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint were shown talking about their experiences of the films, the sets and the studios this ended with the doors of the great hall being shown on screen, and then the screen went up and the doors to the Great Hall were right behind them.
At this point another lady said “I believe it’s two people’s birthdays today”. At which point me and Amy made ourselves known. The lady then asked us to join her at the front and said as it was our birthdays we got to open to doors of the Great Hall for everyone. So up I strode and took my place, me and Amy exchanged glances, then we gave the doors a push and were confronted with the Great Hall in all of its glory. We both looked at each other and said “WOW”. It’s an awesome memory that I don’t think I’ll ever forget in my life time.
Harry Potter or not, when do you ever get the chance to go and stand in a spot and push the doors that have been made famous on film the world over?! It was tremendously cool.
The Great Hall is beautiful inside and we were treated to a little talk about it, and a wander about. It was really amazing and beautiful and great to see the costumes alongside the setting.
Then it was off into one of the main studio parts where they had hundreds of props, various sets and the chance to get your picture taken on a broom or in the Ford Anglia all via greenscreen, well we queued up for an hour to get our car photo taken (decided against the broom as I was in a rather tight skirt and it wouldn’t have been very ladylike getting on or off and there was no option for side saddle). The queue wasn’t that bad, and only what you’d expect from an attraction such as this, plus we wee entertained by seeing everyone else do their bit on the screens. We made sure we gave it our all when we went up there, face licking, Tim miming being sick in my lap etc
After this we wandered about the bits we hadn’t had a chance to look at and wholly admired the Magic is Might statue that they had in the end section of the room.
We went to the outside section with No. 4 Privet Drive, the Potter house in Godrick’s Hollow, the Knight Bus and chess pieces and we settled down for a glass of butterbeer, which is scrummy. It tastes like cream soda with butterscotch topping, it was extremely sweet and I don’t think I could have managed more than one but it was just what was needed after our wait for the green screen stuff and it was nice to have a little rest before moving onto the second part of the tour.
We then went to the prosthetics and mechanics part of the tour which shows you all sorts of wonders including a bookcase full of goblin heads, the animatronics behind the big book of monsters, buckbeak, the dementors, the incredibly lifelike dummies made for the underwater scenes and more.
Then it was round the corner to Diagon Alley which thankfully was quite quiet when we got there meaning we could have a proper look and take a few photos. This was another one of the things I won’t forget in a long time, that first glimpse of the street and seeing it up close, it’s just as detailed as you’d imagine. I even fitted in a little time mooning over Lockheart in the window of Flourish & Blotts.
We then went on to the original art work section which is completely breathtaking, all of the concept design was awe inspiring and had come straight from the pages of the books. We then went through a section with the white card models of which I especially liked the prefects bathroom.
Through the next doors we found the model of Hogwarts.
Imagine the best miniature village you’ve ever seen times that by a million and you’d be a little close to how impressive it is. The set up means that it turns from day to night in front of your eyes and the model comes to life with lights in the windows and doors and there are screens where you can zoom in to see the detail in the model. It’s completely outstanding and I spent quite a bit of time in there watching it change through the day.
In the next room were rows upon rows of wand boxes each containing the name of a cast or crew member of the film, which was completely crazy when you added up how many boxes there were.
Then it was to the gift shop where I purchased a time turner necklace and a chocolate frog and some every flavour beans for the following days’ Potter film watching at our gaff.
Then it was the long drive home, which didn’t actually take us so long. It really was the best birthday I have ever had in my life!