While they say that we have soul mates for love, life and companionship, I believe that in our world, we have soul mates also for our unconditional ‘Harry Potter Love’! So, when girlfriends meet over coffee, they talk about men, shopping, a list of irritating problems and people around, and their bizarre plans to make happen a perfect life. But when I and Varsha Shcroff meet, we talk about Harry Potter and the magical world!
And that is exactly how this post happened, when Varsha, my Potter Soul mate, came back from London, detailing out her experience of WB, and could not stop but telling me – ‘You have to go!’ So even though it’s on my next “urgent travel destination” list…till then I took a tour, to the magic world through her eyes…and with me I am sure her worlds will soon transport you to same!
Some people like Harry Potter, some so called harry potter maniacs lurve it, but people like me live and breathe harry potter. In every moment, in every way. Not something that’s on our mind 24*7 but it’s the way we view the world. Not just black or white but with a dash of unimaginable creatures, which the ‘muggles’ had never seen.
JK Rowling is the Queen of the world, obviously. I mean, who doesn’t love Harry Potter? That being said, there are different degrees of Potter-loving. If you’re running around playing live action Quidditch, correcting people on minute details about minor characters and sporting a Dark Mark tattoo, you are certainly one of us. Our love is unconditional.
Harry potter is not for those seeking an amusement or an alternate universe of imagination; it is for those who want to see how real magic is brought to life. Magic that continues to entertain billions of people. Alfred Hitchcock said, “Movies are life with the boring parts cut out”. I’d say Warner Bros. is life with the boring parts cut out. Come to WB and see for yourself. Relive history while looking ahead to the future of wizardry…
The newest Harry Potter family attraction has landed in the UK, at the Leavesden film studios where the magical world was created. It mixes a traditional wizard’s schooling with an education in the latest film making techniques, and shows you how Quidditch is really played. The Warner Bros Studio of Harry Potter attraction has no rides, no fast food shops and no on-site ticketing. What it does have that makes it stand out from every other British family theme park is ‘magic’. And we all love magic, judging by the worldwide success of the books, films and franchises that all began under the stairs of a small house in Privet Drive.
This attraction is all about the tricks behind the magic tricks. It lets you in on film industry secrets and transports you into a cinematic world of turrets, potion rooms and candle-lit Great Halls. It shows you how J.K. Rowling’s consecrated words were brought to life with the help of a multi-million pound budget, a set of unknown child actors, make up, computer graphics and animatronics. In short, the Warner Bros. Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour shows you how a group of ordinary muggles created something extraordinary.
We chose the most extraordinary day to get this epic experience. The 31st of July. Also the birthday of the architect of this revolutionary world of enchantment. Surprisingly, WB had ‘Summer spells’ just to honor Rowling, wherein one wizard will be chosen from the group and will be given the opportunity to use spells through powerful wands. It gave us chills when we uttered ‘Reducto’ and to our surprise the entire pot burst.
The studio is indoors apart from Privet Drive, the Potters cottage in Godrics Hollow, the Hogwarts Bridge, the Knight Bus and the Weasley’s enchanted car. But I was more interested in the Ford Anglia hovering above my head. “Is that…the real car?” I wondered in amazement. Well it is, and it isn’t. It is the genuine article, but only one of them. Seventeen and a half Ford Anglia’s were used in the making of the films.
Once into the great hall your visit begins and you’re free to look at everything in your own time. I opted for a digital guide which works like any touch screen device. There are numbered stops for you to play the appropriate section but also a whole load of extra material like videos and such. Once through the great hall I was in Harry Potter heaven.
There’s everything from gorgeous costumes and wigs, props, jaw-dropping sets, paintings and more. The sheer amount of books blew me away. I was just loving seeing the ones that we’ve become used to from the films. Just look at this brown leather copy of Do It Yourself Broom Care. Comics were made to put in the common room, invitations for the Yule Ball.
So, from everything from the little things to the sets – These things are massive. The Mirror of Erised and the Magic is Might statue – spectacular! The gates to Hogwarts are about 15 foot high and made of stone. Don’t get me wrong, a lot of things are made of wood or plaster but it seemed to me that equal amounts of things have been crafted the conventional way. Add to this, all the costumes which are beautifully displayed and placed next to the relevant sets. The dress that Hermione wears to the Yule Ball was breath-taking in real life.
I peer in through the window of the shop, and one of the ‘interactors’ mentioned, “ When they were making film two they didn’t know what was going to happen in film seven, but if they needed a Philosopher’s Stone, they could reach into the cupboard and pick it out.”
In the Gryffindor boys’ bedroom, you can see where the little beds had to be extended as Daniel Radcliffe and the others actors grew from children to young adults.
In Dumbledore’s study and the potion classroom you can spend hours studying the authentic looking vials and jars. The creature workshop is slightly interactive with buttons connected to the scale models of various characters that trigger movements and sound.
‘Diagon Alley!’ one of the several ‘wow’ moments of the attraction along with the 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts. I was speechless. I’m really struggling for words here but I was smiling whilst my heart was being wrung out. I’m so used to seeing the world on the films and Diagon Alley was just so perfect that I couldn’t have asked for more. The peeling Apothecary looked like it has been around since the beginning of time.
When we saw the Hogwarts model, it brought a lump to my throat and demanded a period of reflection, as the lighting slowly transitioned from day to night. The model was built for the first film, we are told by a guide, “It was transported here on the back of a lorry. You can just imagine it driving down,” she laughs. Apparently if a person had created this structure in reality, it would have taken them 74 years.
The witch in me was trying to grasp as much as I could get. This was it! The place which Millions of personified witches and wizards called ‘home’. All was in front of me and as I gazed upon Hogwarts with tears rolling down, I felt shivers down my spine. And contradicting my perfect moment – “They could have waved a magic wand instead,” shrugged my husband nonchalantly.
And speaking of wands, the Ollivander’s Wand Shop, selling 17,000 wand boxes had 4000 of them in a room dedicated to every member of cast and crew who worked on the eight films. You can search for individual wands of Daniel, Rupert. Or you can buy your favorite collectible wand in the gift shop. (If you’re out of money you could always see if Gringotts has a cash point!) It’s a tribute to the imagination of J.K. Rowling that even the gift shop holds interest for us. I peer around Dumbledore’s rather expensive cloak.
You might think that it’s like any other theme park, but this is different! It’s like a golden opportunity for me to see my treasured world all in its glorious detail. The tour has so many highlights, and even when you feel like it might be running dry, it grabs you again and finishes on such an emotional note that I saw many a grown-up having a little weep. If there was ever any doubt how much work has gone in to these amazing films then the tour sweeps them away.
To sum up – I drank butter beer, I stood on the Night Bus and I was in Harry Potter heaven. Go, if you’re even a mild fan of the films – JUST GO! You won’t regret it.