09.05.2013 - 09.05.2013 14 °C
Today was one of the best (if not the best) days of our trip. Thanks to our lovely parents we were able to go to the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour!
The drive there was pretty long, at one and a half hours, so we were all up at 7:30, but the excitement helped keep us moving. On the car ride there my parents asked Hannah and I questions from the books, and had us explain anything they were unsure of. When we got to the building we confirmed our tickets, and because I was a child I even got a "Harry Potter Passport", in which I was able to stamp pictures along the way. The main lobby had large pictures of cast members all around the top, most of them being Dan, Rupert and Emma at different ages.
Our tour started at 10:30, but we didn't have to wait long before we were ushered into a waiting room to await instructions and rules about the tour. It was self-guided, but we had purchased two audio-guides and Hannah and I had agreed to tell my parents anything interesting we heard. We were then able to watch a short film narrated by Dan, Rupert and Emma, about what we would be seeing along the way. My dad kept commenting on how the seats in the theater were probably the most comfortable ones he had ever sat in. After it was over we were led through a set of doors in the first stop, the Great Hall.
There were two of the tables from the actual film here, as well as costumes grouped by Hogwarts houses along either wall. We were told that some of the costumes, such as Cedric Diggory's Triwizard Tournament shirt, Harry Potter's robes, Draco Malfoy's robes, and Neville's cardigan, were originals that had been worn by them during filming. Up near the front of the Hall where the teachers sat, were mannequins wearing the costumes that had actually been worn by the cast, complete with wigs that matched the character.
After we were out of the Great Hall, our self guided tour started. There were many helpful signs with descriptions around the sets, and the audio guides had some interviews with different crew members. And what made the audio-guides even better was that Tom Felton voiced them.
We saw so many sets from the films, as well as different costumes. We were even able to take a look at how they filmed the Quidditch so that it was safe, but believable. I loved seeing the props that had been left on set, like self-stirring cauldrons, and knives, irons and knitting needles that did everything themselves. We were even able to control them from where we stood.
After we finished the interior sets we stepped outside. Here we bought some soup, hotdogs and Butterbeer. The Butterbeer tasted like butterscotch root beer, and I told my mom that if they made it warm and took the carbonation out of it, it would have been perfect.
Outside we were able to look at numbers 3 and 4 of Privet Drive, the Knight Bus, Hogwarts Bridge, and many of the chess pieces from the first film. Back inside we were able to see lots of the creature props that were made, such as masks for the Gringotts goblins, body casts of characters (these were used when the character was stupefied, dead or part of the underwater scenes in the fourth movie), and anything that wasn't put in by CGI. We got to see the giant mechanical spider that they used to play Aragog, which had an 18 foot leg span, as well as the head and neck of the Basilisk they had made so that Dan had something to visualise and stab at while he was acting in the second movie.
After this area we saw all the sketches that artists had made before a final model was chosen. Some of the objects, such as the dragons, were sketched over a hundred different ways before a final one was chosen. There were even paintings of scenes to give inspiration and to bring it to life on canvas.
The final stop was the Hogwarts Castle, which was a massive and detailed sculpture of the castle which was used in all the films when they needed to get long shots of the outside. Until the seventh and eighth films this was the only thing they used to portray the castle, as the effects were not that advanced during the time they shot the first six. During the Battle of Hogwarts, they used computer effects and animation to burn down the castle and the bridge.
More about the Hogwarts Castle model: here.
This completed our tour and we went into the gift shop from here, where I purchased a keychain and a magnet, and Hannah got herself a copy of Hermione's wand.
The drive back took 45 minutes longer than it should have because of traffic, so we were thankful that dinner was already made. We finished the evening by watching the second half of "As You Like It", an adaptation of the play that Shakespeare wrote, as we are going to see the play tomorrow. After this I convinced my family to watch three West Wings, which is a record as we have never gone over two.