To all Harry Potter lovers out there, please continue to read on. To those who do not like Harry Potter… why not?
I’ve grown up with the wizarding world since the age of three. I have never loved another book series like this and never seen a film franchise of a book be so successful. The magical words of J.K Rowling inspired me to become a writer. I have read the books and watched the films way too many times and would count myself as a Harry Potter guru. As a journalist, my dream interview would be with J.K Rowling herself.
This week I was fortunate enough to go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Warner Bros. Studios near London. The tour was first opened to the public in 2012 and I was lucky enough to visit it twice that year. But this year I got the chance to go at Christmas time with all the decorations and snow. Plus I got to see sets, props and interactive experiences that were not there previously.
Unfortunately due to my disabilities, there were some limitations. On my second visit in 2012, I was able to hold and feel a few props; Tom Riddle’s Diary, the Prophecy glass ball & love potions from Weasley’s Wizarding Wheezes in Diagon Alley. However when I asked a member of staff if this was possible again, he said they were no longer providing this which was disappointing. There was the option of a guided tour audio headset which you book in advance but I felt it would be difficult to keep up and not very sociable with headphones on. Also there were some areas where there were no wheelchair access to which was slightly annoying.
My highlights were the Forbidden Forest, the Hogwarts Express train and visiting my favourite character, Dobby the house elf. Although I couldn’t see much in the Forbidden Forest as it was so dark, the sounds and lighting made it feel very eerie and spooky. I could hear the scuttling of spiders, Aragog, the largest spider moving and the sound & flashes of thunder and lightning.
The Hogwarts Express train was amazing. It looked a lot brighter, bolder red than seen on screen. A previous crew member told me an old man came to the studio tour and said he remembered riding the exact train when he was young before it became the Hogwarts Express. I never knew it was a old passenger steam train. I was somewhat heavy-hearted that I couldn’t access the train carriages. Apparently they had recreated some scenes with sweets, cloaks and luggage. On the platform, I did get to hold the trolley that goes through the barrier which was cool. There was also a small shop of merchandise on the platform. I got to feel some of the wands on sale. I was surprised how many different shapes and sizes there were.
My ultimate mission on the tour was to be reunited with my fictional friend Dobby. He was so high up in a glass cabinet I had to raise my chair up. For some reason he had his eyes partially closed which was saddening to see. Beside him was an interactive CGI Dobby. People could stand on a mat and make movements and Dobby would copy them. I gave it a go but I don’t think he liked my wheelchair as he looked like he was having a seizure or having a spastic attack; basically I think he has cerebral palsy too!
Other favourite parts included the mechanical Buckbeak the Hippogriff who bows to you and the mechanical Whomping Willow tree that hits the boot of the Weasley’s Ford Anglia car with a branch.
And finally, let’s not forget the festive aspects. In the Great Hall there were numerous tall Christmas trees. There were also Christmas puddings on the long tables too. Outside they had a device that created a snow shower and so I was snowed on (probably for the first and last time this year). At the large model of the Hogwarts castle, snow was all over the school grounds which brought a wintry, festive feel to the scenery. I did have one thought while admiring it; how do they remove the snow in the new year?
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Please like, comment and share this post and I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
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