Back to Hogwarts - a day at the Harry Potter studio tour London
At precisely 11am each year on 1st September, the Hogwarts Express begins its journey for the start of the school year. So, it only seemed right to talk about the Harry Potter studio tour on this day. This was a Christmas present that I used on the weekend before my birthday (to squeeze that birthday week out for as long as possible), and was just incredible.
It's clear from just stepping in the entrance hall that attention has been paid to every single detail. Overhead is a massive replica of the Gringotts dragon, precise down to all of its wounds and the loose shackles it broke free of. We headed straight to have lunch before going on to the tour, and it wasn't *as* overpriced as it could have been (around £10 for a cooked meal). The main meals were the only things not really ~themed~, but you did get to sit underneath a host of floating candles as though you're in the great hall. Next to this was the Chocolate Frog cafe which had the cutest looking tasty treats, but as I can't eat dairy (honestly the bane of my life), I had to give the cupcakes a miss.
You book in for a tour at a certain time of day, so as 2pm approached we made our way to the entrance. I was so overwhelmed by the magic of the whole thing that I was teary even before the tour had properly started. After watching a brief recap of Harry Potter productions over the years (not good for the tear situation), we were led through the massive doors into the Great Hall.
You're talked through how the Great Hall was created, issues the producers and set builders faced, and then left to wander at your own pace through masses of props and a few sets. The Gryffindor common room, Hagrid's cottage and the potions classroom are all there, and filled with all the minute details you could ever want to see. Everything is explained in depth and even my non-Potterhead boyfriend (a tragedy, I know) enjoyed learning about how they made everything work.
After the props and small sets, things get VERY good. You take a wander through the Forbidden Forest (complete with massive spiders that drop down around you, a life size Buckbeak and mist that floats over the floor). There's Platform 9&3/4 and Diagon Alley to walk through before grabbing a cup of Butterbeer (honestly, it's vile) and then heading to the outdoor sets.
This was my favourite section of the whole tour. It's got the Knight bus, Harry's parents' house, the Hogwarts bridge, giant chess pieces, the flying car and Privet drive. Seeing all the buildings they used was actually magical, and being inside the Dursley's living room, complete with letters flying around, was just everything my little Potter-y heart could want.
The tour took about an hour and a half to get around, and I felt like I was soaking up magic the whole time. But the gift shop?! It was Something Else. There were a few smaller gift shops along the tour, but the main one leads back to the entrance hall for the whole tour, and it's massive. In a 'big enough to get lost in' kind of way. Everything in the shop was pretty pricey - I wasn't going to be buying a £40 jumper - but, they did have everything you could ever want. Hogwarts robes, wands, books, games, pins, bookmarks, honestly anything that could be made Potter-y was there. I settled for a Dobby pin for my rucksack, and now every time I look at it I'm reminded of one of the best days I've had this year.
Have you been to the Studio Tours? What did you think?