Yay! Up until the Studios were formed, people had to go all the way to Orlando in order to indulge their Harry Potter fandoms – which is unfair to all us British folk, as Harry Potter is originally English (I’m sorry America, but it started here; you get loads of famous fictional people anyway).
I wasn’t squealing with excitement as I did went we went to Disneyland, but then I think I was eight back then. We arrived more than an hour and a half early. We would have got there even earlier, but the GPS led us to a big skyscraper two minutes away, which of course led to a lot of scuffling. So when we finally got there, I wasn’t quite as excited as I should have been – but only by a fractional amount. :)
We were given ‘passports’ at the door, where you could stamp off locations and test your Harry Potter/Tour knowledge. There was also a checklist on snitches, that were hidden throughout the tour. Being the obsessive person I am, I made it my endeavour to see all the snitches and check off all the stamps. Little did I know at the time how hard my quest would be…
When we got in, we went to the toilets, and looked at the massive photos of the Harry Potter cast that were all really cool (not at the same time). Then, because the shop was in reach… we went shopping before the tour started. For some reason, I have a feeling that this is not tourist policy. It felt wrong somehow. *sigh* As well as this, my dad was constantly taking pictures of things with his iPad, which my older sister in particular repeatedly tried and failed to stop him doing. I think the family should read up on tourist attraction etiquette some day. Besides, we had an hour to fill, and none of us were really content to sit around.
I had expected the shop to go on forever, or at least be as big as a supermarket, but alas, it wasn’t that big. Yeah, I had great expectations.
I ended up buying a Ravenclaw scarf (Ravenclaw forever!) a postcard (with a picture of Luna wearing a hilarious lion mask), and a box of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans. My older sister bought a Slytherin scarf and a postcard, and my youngest sister bought a Hogwarts pin (she hasn’t read the books yet, or watched all the movies, so her like of Harry Potter is somewhat mild). The whole family bought a Chocolate Frog and, although my younger sister asked for it and it’s mainly hers, Dumbledore’s wand.
Note: These pictures are all from Ebay. I don’t believe they are copyrighted, but just to be safe, if you type in ‘Harry Potter studio’ then these come up.
I’ll try and get some more pictures up when my sister’s phone, and my mum’s phone are available. Then there’s also the iPad… I don’t really enjoy uploading pictures either, so it’ll also be when I can be bothered. Apologies, hopefully they’ll be here soon.
Eventually we got into line, and saw the cupboard under the stairs on the way! It took perhaps twenty minutes to get to the front of the queue, but I was constantly straining my eyes to see the information boards on the far wall (‘From Pen to Production). When I finally got there, I had to rush past it because I couldn’t hold up the queue, but I managed to take it all in. ;)
After that we watched a five-minute movie about Harry Potter whilst standing up, and a five-minute movie about the tour whilst sitting down. Then the tour began!
First we went to the Great Hall. It was pretty cool, but there was no floating ceiling (if only), and there’s not as much atmosphere to it if no-one’s sitting on the tables. Even still, yay! Instead of the centre table, there was the duelling board, which is only there for the rest of the ‘Summer Spells’ period (i.e. one more day!). Once the guy in the room had finished his talk, we went on to the next room.
In hindsight, I may have soaked everything in a bit much. I took around fifteen minutes in the place with all the directors and producers, reading all the billboards and occasionally looking up to the TV to watch the directors talk about the film. When I finally moved on, I kept on looking for the snitches, but lots of them alluded me. It was just me and my dad, as my mum and sisters had gone ahead. I was blissfully walking around when my oldest sister found me and told me that they’d finished the tour, so hurry up! Alarmed, I spent another half an hour or so hurriedly taking everything in before I joined the rest of the family in the queue for the green screen flying on a broomstick experience.
First of all, the four kids in the family got into the Ford Anglia simulator, the youngest on the seats, my sister and I crouching in the back. The actual car stayed static, but the green screen made it look as though it was in the air. Then me and my younger sister went on the broomstick ones. At the end, we bought some of the pictures, which we never usually do, so clearly they were very good. :P
After that we went back to the room with everything in, and spent another half an hour looking for the snitches. Me and my sisters had to ask the nice lady for hints three times, which shows our expertise. Then we finally left to the pavilion for refreshments, much to my older sister’s delight.
I was really looking forward to the butterbeer, but it had dairy in, so I couldn’t drink any. At first I was really sad because it’s butterbeer, but all my family member’s disliked it, so I was OK. There were also all sort of goodies there, like a recreation of Privet Drive, the Knight Bus, and a realish (-ish because it didn’t fly) Ford Anglia along with it’s side-on car and Hagrid’s flying motorcycle. Pictures taking opportunities!
After that we went into the ‘Creature Shop’. It was frankly awesome. There was Buckbeak and all sorts of coolness and something concerning Hagrid that I care not to mention because it could ruin your hopes and dreams. If you really want to know, just search the words ‘Hagrid’ and ‘animatronic’ into Google and see what comes up.
Then finally… we went to Diagon Alley. *trumpet sounds*
It was really cool, but strangely not as cool as I would have hoped. Again, this is kind of like the Great Hall – there wasn’t that cool music playing, or as many people. Also the disappointment in that there is no proper inside to the shops. Don’t worry, I will be awestruck soon. ;)
After a while, I went past Diagon Alley into the Art Department. At first glance it looked really cool, but there was little to do. I went back into Diagon Alley, only to find someone performing a demonstration on the different kinds of wands used in the films. I quickly told my sister and we watched most of it before finally moving on. On closer inspection of the Art department, it was filled with really cool concept paintings that continued into the next room, which was filled with super intricate paper models. I marvelled at all of them, especially the Hogwarts castle one. My sister mentioned aloud that a Snitch should’ve been in there, as it was the Model Room, but a member of staff heard us and said, oh no, the next room was the Model Room. I was curious. Surely a room filled with small paper models was the Model Room. What come trump this?
I walked into the next room… and was awestruck.
I was staring at Hogwarts Castle. Literally staring it a massive, full colour model of it the face. It was a lot smaller, but it was nostalgic and beautiful and amazing and dahhh! Even now it brings tears to my eyes. It was the one they had used in the films for the wide shots. And the level of craftsmanship that went into making it was amazing! It was, in my opinion, the highlight of the tour, and there were lots of high moments!
We walked into a room filled with wand boxes at the very end. All of them had names on, and it was nice to see familiar names and surnames. And that was the end of the tour. I got a special badge which said ‘I took part in Summer Spells at ‘The Making of Harry Potter’ and that was the end of it. The sad thing is that all of us seemed to have missed a whole Quidditch exhibit entirely, as we missed a Quidditch stamp. We also didn’t find two Snitches. Oh well. :?
So now I’ve visited the Studios, read the books once (I know, pitiful), watched the movies, and have at least some merchandise, what next? Well first I need to reread the books, have a movie marathon, perhaps play Muggle Quidditch – and then there is always Orlando…
P.S. I now have a whole host of awards from the amazing mushroomsup from Funny For Nothing, so I’m finally going to do an awards post tomorrow! And possibly DIY Summer… Stay tuned!