09.05.2013 - 09.05.2013 13 °C
Today stood out as one of our best days in the UK, at least for Abby and I. Since we were four and six years old respectively, we've had the beloved Harry Potter series in our lives. We've each read the series at least four times, and once had a movie marathon and watched all eight films in less than 24 hours. Seeing the fictional world that we've become so immersed in come to life was truly magical, if you'll pardon the pun. Abby already covered quite a bit of the massive exhibition, so I'll mostly write about the parts she didn't fit in.
The first set we saw was Harry's cupboard under the stairs. It was complete with all his belongings, right down to the little toy horses. Thus began our journey through the intricate sets, beautiful props, and unique culture of the studio. We saw the Gryffindor boys' dormitory, with red curtained four-poster beds and the belongings of each of the characters who stayed there, which included Quidditch posters and knitted quilts. The Gryffindor common room walls were covered with a tapestry, with purposefully worn furniture and an impressive fireplace. A red and gold scarf has been left on the couch. Portraits that looked hundreds of years old lined the walls, filled with figures that come to life in their frames when seen on screen.
Of all of the niches, rooms, and hallways that make up Hogwarts, one of the most magical places is Dumbledore's office. Guests are free to explore the first level, but the second and third floors are off limits. Dusty books and trinkets fill the old-fashioned cases lining the walls of the circular room. The famous gothic case of memories stands next to the headmaster's Pensive. The most expensive prop of the movie rests on the topmost level, a large golden telescope with delicate knobs and dials attached to a chair
The Potions classroom was fantastic. The shelves were laden with over 500 bottles and jars, each marked with a handwritten label and filled with some sort of odd plant or powder. Self-stirring cauldrons and copies of Borage's Advanced Potion Making Edition IV sat on the desks, and the precious vial of Felix Felicis (or Liquid Luck) featured in the sixth film can be seen as well.
Hagrid's hut and The Burrow sat side by side, each cluttered with an assortment of tools, trinkets and props. A model of Hagrid's mastiff, Fang, greeted us from the door. I found myself pointing out all the little details that I remembered from the books and movies, as well as a few others that I'd missed. We saw a scarf knitting itself here and an unmanned knife chopping at a carrot there, each trick adding to the magical atmosphere.
The Ministry of Magic sets were some of the largest and grandest we'd seen. Tall, arching fireplaces and huge carvings and statues surrounded us, all intricately designed and patterned. Umbridge's bright pink office was the garish crown jewel, complete with decorative kitten plates and an array of her outfits, each one pinker than the last. It was nearly as large as Hagrid's hut.
Abby's described the second half of the tour quite well, so I'll just finish by saying that the grand finale was spectacular. The massive model Hogwarts Castle made my jaw drop. Each aspect and feature was meticulously crafted, and made everything we had just see that much more real. I found Dumbledore's office and the Great Hall, and watched as the lights around the room dimmed and turned blue and tiny lights in the windows flared.
Many thanks to Mom and Dad, who not only gave us this experience but exposed us to J. K. Rowling's books in the first place.