Harry Potter seems to have turned into an international language that knows no borders. Everyone I’ve ever known, if they haven’t seen or read J.K Rowling’s series about a young boy learning about being a Wizard, they at least know of it because someone they know is obsessed.
Take for example my Italian friend – she learned English simply because the books weren’t being translated fast enough for her. I have Harry Potter to thank for one of the loveliest friends that anyone could have.
There are so many intriguing levels to the book series. You have the basic story; good vs. bad, kid growing up, making friends, facing the enemy in incredible situations with the added layers fantasy brings; magic, monsters and the normal world (muggles). Then add growing pains, High School, living as an orphan, falling in love, death and living. Add a few dashes of some incredible historical research (there really was a Nicholas Flamel and each character’s name was taken from history somewhere), adult themes running through the books (work, family, football) & the fact that secretly (and not so secretly) that feeling that having magical powers would be incredibly cool.
When I found out that Warner Brothers were opening an interactive exhibit of the Harry Potter movie sets I wasn’t convinced about travelling all the way to Watford (North north London) or paying £30ish pounds for the delight. With all of the London landmarks it seemed pointless.
Holy moly was I wrong.
There are only a few attractions I’d heartily recommend tourists go and do when visiting London that are worth paying £20+ for. This makes the shortlist of 4 (the others are: the Tower of London, going on the London Eye at Twilight, and visiting Kew Gardens). There are London attractions too – eg. the film locations of Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic phonebox and of course Kings Cross for Platform 9&3/4s. I’ve been on a couple of tours (permatourist remember) and the walking ones are much better than the coach ones in my experience.
The exhibition consists of two huge sound stages (coincidentally named J & K as they are all alphabetical) jam packed with more memorabilia than you can shake a wand at.
That infamous cupboard below the stairs? It’s the just the waiting area to get into the main rooms.
They have absolutely everything you could imagine. And more.
According to Rowling in interviews, she had a lot of input on how the various locations look in the films. “It was the most bizarre experience when I walked onto the set of the Great Hall; it really was like walking into my own brain”.
Fabulous sets –
Interactive exhibits (ie. how to wave a wand properly & a green screen photograph of you on a broomstick (for an extra charge))
(at the top those are fake Turkeys, by the way!)
…and of course;
Did you know that Daniel Radcliffe was allergic to his glasses?
Or that Hermione’s buck teeth (as described in the books) were abandoned because no-one could hear what she was saying when she was wearing them?
As if you can’t already tell I loved it, and could have spent a whole day in there. Easily. Then, then there is the ubiquitous gift shop. They sell everything you could possibly imagine. Gryffindor robes, replica wands, Hermione’s earrings from the Twiwizard ball, Pygmy Puffs… the list goes on and on. It’s expensive, but then that will be no surprise.
I’ve also decided that as it’s my birthday soon, I’m going to totally indulge my inner child, and have a Harry Potter week on the blog. I’m sorry, but I suspect most of you will enjoy my ramblings (why you do normally I don’t really know…) but in case you don’t, normal (whatever that is) service will resume next week. I have so much to share!!
I definitely think my admission letter from Hogwarts must have gotten lost in the mail.
(Stay tuned for a recipe later in the week…)
(Btw this is the website site for Harry Potter Studio Tours – I’ve been in no way comped for this, I’m just sharing because it’s something I really loved). You have to pre-book it and it’s quite a way out of Watford but again totally worth it.
You can buy chocolate wands and Butterbeer. Need any further convincing?