No, no, I promise, you’re not hallucinating. This is the second post in as many days. Weird, right? Please don’t get used to it…for your sake and for mine.
This trip has been a whirlwind of crazy. But I love it anyway. So, here’s the scoop on Harry Potter! I had no words in the previous post, but a few days ago, the blog manager for the trip mentioned that they wanted a post about Harry Potter. Well, why not? So I somehow found the words I had been missing and I wrote it. Now, apparently, blog posts are supposed to be two paragraphs…um. Well…I definitely didn’t write three pages on the experience…that doesn’t sound like me at all. Just kidding, obviously that’s what happened. For the purposes of the trip’s blog, I shortened it to one page. However, you guys get the pleasure of reading my uncut version! If my weirdness makes you uncomfortable, I’m sorry…only a little though.
Harry Potter. 126.96.36.199.188.8.131.52. Eight movies. Seven books. Six DADA professors. Five near-expulsions. Four houses. Three main characters. Two sides. One generation.
I say generation because that’s what J.K. Rowling did: she created a generation. From the moment the first book came out to the moment the final movie was released in theaters, Rowling grew and maintained a captive audience of muggles longing to get their Hogwarts letter—longing to somehow be a part of the magical world of witchcraft and wizardry that existed in the United Kingdom.
I am proud to place myself in that category. I am a Harry Potter nerd to this very day and I know that will never change. Harry, Ron, Hermione, Dumbledore, Snape, and yes, even Voldemort have been a part of more than half my life. I started the Harry Potter series in third grade and have been enthralled with them ever since. So, to get the opportunity to go to London and not only visit Platform 9 and ¾, but take the studio tour…I couldn’t turn it down. To see the magic that has kept me captivated for 12 years and counting was truly something else.
I went on May 15th with Nicole W., Nicole R., Kristen, Jamie, Liz, and Ryan. It was a stressful morning due to very ill-timed use of the snooze button… But, we somehow made it. We took the tube (read: subway) to the overground (read: train) to Watford Junction and then took a special Harry Potter shuttle to the studio! After dealing with tickets, we got in and were immediately greeted by huge character posters adorning the wall just below the ceiling on every side. We saw Ginny, Draco (circa Chamber of Secrets), Bellatrix (circa order of the Phoenix), and any others. The excitement was there and we were eager to get the actual tour going.
Just before the tour started, we were led into a theater-esque room where we watched all eight movies in a row. Just kidding! Though we did watch clips from each, it was more of an introduction to the tour with some interviews from JKR, the producer, director, screenwriter, and of course: Emma, Daniel, and Rupert! Then it was time for the tour to begin.
I cannot remember the name of our tour guide, which, seeing as how he didn’t really…guide us through the tour, it is justifiable. He just started us off in front of huge doors. Just as in the beginning of the first movie Harry was ushered into the Great Hall by McGonagall, we were as well. That was our first stop. It was obviously not enchanted to reflect the weather outside as it is in the books (and good thing too—it was cold out there!), and it was not filled with witches and wizards as I wish it had been. Instead, it had two of the house tables on the left and right side, and several costumes on display—some from each house. We saw Neville’s first year Gryffindor robes, Malfoy’s Inquisitorial Squad uniform (Order of the Phoenix), Cho’s fifth year Ravenclaw robes, and Cedric’s from Hufflepuff as well. There were professors at the front including but not limited to: Dumbledore, Snape, Hagrid, and McGonagall.
After that, we entered into a cavernous room with a TON of different sets and props. It was incredible how many different movies were able to fit into that soundstage. We saw Umbridge’s office, the kitchen of the Burrow, the entrance to the Chamber, the entrance to Dumbledore’s office, the Potions classroom both Slughorn’s and Snape’s, the Ministry of Magic, and just so much more. It was overwhelming but in the best way imaginable.
There were also a few interactive features as well! Some of us practiced our dueling stances with a choice between the wands of Narcissa, Arthur, and Lupin. We were also able to ride a broom! And get pictures of it. Let’s just say…my idea of Quidditch is forever changed.
Next, we went outside where we enjoyed drinking butterbeer in the freezing cold, seeing the Dursley house, and the Knight bus—which obviously, we took a picture in front of! Once it started raining though…we were done. So we went inside and were greeted with giants, werewolves, Aragog (oh, goody!), Hedwig, and baby-corpse Voldemort from Goblet of Fire, and a ton of goblins. We learned that they were all carefully handcrafted; each with their own distinguishing features.
After, we went through a room of tiny scale models and blueprints for different structures and areas around Hogwarts. It was crazy to see how much detailed work went into literally every single aspect of the designs. However, the most amazing thing, hands down, was the scale model of the castle that took eight weeks to build! We were able to see it in a time-lapse video…SO GREAT. It just was beyond words. It took my breath away. I really just can’t even explain how awe-inspiring that was.
Sadly, the tour was coming to an end. We were led into a room with easily several thousand wand boxes as seen in Ollivander’s shop; each one hand painted and inscribed—one for every single person who helped even a little bit on any of the sets. I wish I had one of those…
It was sad that the tour was over, but that last room led to the gift shop!!! Seriously, anything Harry Potter you could ever want (minus an invisibility cloak) was there! It was so great. You could buy robes, wands, hats, scarves, pins…THE MARAUDER’S MAP. Nicole R. may or may not have bought it.
My biggest takeaway is this: the magic may not have been real in the way that the movies portrayed them—there are no wands, no castle, no spells, no creatures, etc.—but that does not mean there was never any magic. The magic is in how one struggling woman created a generation with a story she drafted on napkins. The magic is in how after several rejections from publishers, someone took a chance on JKR and on Harry and discovered something huge. The magic is in how relatable the characters were even if the exact situations weren’t. The magic is in the unforgettable quality of the story and in the flawlessness of the film casting. The magic is in how one series took the world by storm. The magic is everywhere; you just have to look for it.
To Harry Potter: the boy who lived and the story that will live on.