“Yer a wizard, Harry.” “I’m a wot m8???”
June 10, 2o16
Today we visited Warned Brother Studios and took a tour through Harry Potter history; today was the most magical day of my entire life. Ever since the first movie came out, it has been a family tradition of mine to see each movie in its opening week. Though I had never gotten past the first book, the Harry Potter movie franchise was a huge part of my childhood. Reliving this part of my childhood today was an incredible experience, and was made even better by hearing about how it came to be from the business side of things.
We arose bright and early for the occasion, hopping on a tube, a train, and a bus to get to our destination at Warner Brothers Studios in Leavesden, Hertfordshire. As we approached the entrance to the building, the unmistakable tune of the Harry Potter theme song (you know the one). After exploring the gift shop and the main lobby area for a bit, we were directed to the offices section of the building where we would meet with Josh Berger, the President and Managing Director of Warner Brothers UK. He is one of the reasons why the Harry Potter franchise is as big and powerful as it is today.
The Q&A with Josh was extremely informative and inspiring. Although Josh came from a somewhat privileged background, his journey to the top of Warner Brothers UK would not have been possible without hard work and persistence. The idea of not giving up until you get what you want seems to be a common sentiment among the professionals we have met with on this trip.
After our meeting with Josh, we headed into the Harry Potter Tour and were offered front row seats to the beginning of the exhibit. We watched a short, introductory video and then the screen rose and revealed the world of magic behind it.
As we entered the Great Hall, all of us quickly became consumed by the world of Harry Potter. Even though the Great Hall looked very different without the CGI, it still felt like we were really there in the heart of Hogwarts.
The perimeter of the hall was decorated with actual costumes that were used in the movies. These costumes included absolutely everything that the actors wore: clothing, accessories, and even wigs and facial hair.
The presentation of these costumes blew me away; I really felt like I was standing before the headmaster of Hogwarts. However, I found the original Sorting Hat to be by far the most impressive part of the Great Hall. I am a bit disappointed that I didn’t get to try it on and be judged by all of my peers for which house I was placed in.
Beyond the Great Hall was more memories and more magic. The studio was filled with perfectly preserved sets from the movies and more costumes than I can even remember. From the costumes the actors were first pictured in to the last, the museum has an astonishing amount of recognizable props on display for visitors.
After filling up my memory card with pictures of all of the famous props, sets, and costumes, we headed back to King’s Cross Station. Well, we headed into Platform 9 and 3/4 anyway. This is where I saw the ever-famous Hogwarts Express. In this part of the exhibit, they house the actual train engine and cars that were used for the filming of the train scenes in every single Harry Potter movie.
The individual compartments inside of the train cars were decorated to represent the most memorable scenes filmed in the cars in each movie. I really loved how we were able to just walk right through the car and relive the scenes as if we had been there.
In the last train car, the scene in which Harry, Ron, and Hermione meet for the first time is depicted. They even included Harry’s glasses that Hermione had fixed with the spell “Oculus Reparo” in the first film. The attention to detail in this museum is really what gives it its magic.
After Platform 9 and 3/4 was a cafe and outdoor area. I would have stopped to grab a bite to eat if I hadn’t been so eager to see the rest of the tour. Next to the Knight Bus was the famous Privet Drive house. This exhibit was only meant to go through the 6th of June, but fortunately for us, the exhibition was extended through until September 5th, meaning that we were able to see it!
Up next was the makeup and special effects section of the tour. This part really made me understand just how large of a production each of these movies were. There were shelves upon shelves of different bits of makeup, silicon, hair, and masks that were all used in the films. The amount of work that went into the making of a single character or prop, no matter how minor, really gives a sense of why these movies turned out to be so successful.
The set design is just another element that explains why the Harry Potter franchise is so successful. There were models upon models showing each and every location that was used in the films, some only appearing once or twice despite their intricate designs. Since the Harry Potter stories were books before they were movies, fans already had ideas as to what each setting and location looked like, making the set design a crucial part of getting everything just right.
Going into the tour, I knew that it would end with a bang. After all, this tour is a part of the Harry Potter franchise, so to leave me anything but mind-blown would be off-brand. But even though I was expecting something grand, nothing could have prepared me for what I saw. The tour ended with an incredible 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts Castle. This was the cherry on top of a fantastic Harry Potter studio tour. I have never experienced anything like it; no museum could ever compare to the amount of detail that is in the Harry Potter tour. Today was one of the best days of my life, to say the least. I left that museum with such bewilderment and love towards the Harry Potter franchise. This is a day that I will never forget; I am so grateful to have been able to experience Harry Potter once again.