I’m about a month late with this post but that seems to be a never ending trend so I’m not gonna worry too much about it!
My love celebrated his 35 Birthday last month and we celebrated with a bit of Harry Potter (because that’s what we do!)
(How cute does my niece look in her winter get up!!! 😍)
After that we traveled to Watford for a bit of early Christmas shopping and a GBK lunch… (FYI the katsu curry burger is amazing!!!)
That evening we did a whole lot of nothing and just chilled at the hotel, making the most of the hotel pool and the room service facilities! We did make a bit of effort and enjoyed the bar/pool table for a while but in the end ordered pizza to the room and watched films in bed! Perfect way to spend a birthday eve!!
Considering how big a pair of Harry Potter geeks we are it’s a mystery we’ve never been before… But the time had come and like two overgrown kids we headed off for a day of geeky fun and butter beer! We started our day as all geeky days should begin with some touristy posed pictures.
The tour itself was amazing and the attention to detail was astounding!!! After a short film about the HP series the screen magically disappeared and the real doors to the great hall awaited us.
Maxwell joined the ‘birthday boys and girls’ hahahaha (ok so he was the only adult, but look at his face! (so cute!) and got to open the main doors and went to see Dumbledore and the other delights that awaited us
The great hall was just that and it was quite surreal being there (you’ll only get this if you’re a true HP geek) I hope the photos do justice to the scale and detail of the place because it was truly breathtaking! (if you go I recommend hanging back to get some lovely shots of an empty hall!)
The next stage was the BTS props and sets and again we were blown away by the level of detail that went in to everything. It was so clear that is was a joy to work on because the level of craftsmanship and quality was top notch.
The costumes and hair and make up section was fab (being a former fashion student and all) and it was lovely seeing all the fantastic costumes from the films, in particular the Yule Ball outfits. In the same section we were also wowed by the chocolate sculptures you can see below, some of them were actually made of real chocolate too which is even more impressive!
In the middle section of the main warehouse was lots of various parts of different sets which was incredible to see all together…. from walls of artwork to the boys dormitory, the leaky cauldron, Dumbledores office, the hidden staircase and the Griffindor Common room, this part was so fun!
in the middle of all the sets they also had a huge section on props, from the golden snitch and the philosophers stone to the casts wands and bottles of skelegrow! There was this huge caged section which was basically all the props from the room of requirement! Amazing…
Also fun fact – my fiancé is like a mini Hagrid! haha!!
Round the next bend and the sets took a darker turn; Dementors, Borgin & Burke, Umbridge’s Office and Malfoy Manor! (I can only imagine what this sounds like if you’re not a Hp fan! haha sorry!!)
Next on the tour was platform 9 3/4…. This was great. They had the real train there which was used in the films! We got to run through the wall (or at least pose like we were any way!), go on board and see carriages from each of the films and even have a go acting with a green screen background!
I wasn’t allowed to take any photos but we also got to try our hand at acting and experiment with a bit of green screen / CGI fun. This was ridiculous but we weren’t the only adults so we just kind of went for it!!! Most amusing!!
After that we took a break and enjoyed a butterbeer and a few snacks in the backstage café… (FYI UK Butterbeer is much tastier/less sweet then it’s American counterpart)
Once refreshed, we headed outside and saw No. 4 Privett Drive and other iconic larger sets and vechicles (did some more posing – such geeks) then it was on to the SfX department!
From costumes and prosthetics to animatronics and full scale models this part of the tour was equally amazing. You could see various goblin masks and Luna’s fake feet (fun HP fact for you there), Hagrid’s half giant costume, Buckbeak, moving mandrakes and a full size aragog!!
After that (and a million more photos) it was on to Diagon Alley. We’d seen a Diagon Alley previously when we went to America last year but it was still so amazing to see all the shops and look in the windows. Again the level of detail was fantastic!!
The bit that was an unexpected treat was the technical drawings and paper model section. I guess because of the work Maxwell and I do this appealed to us both. Before any prop or set could be made it had to be drawn first, once the sketches were approved scaled down paper models could be made. This process applied for not only items but also full locations like Hogsmeade!
Finally, the last proper part of the tour and one you can’t not be amazed by, is the scale castle model. I’d previously seen photos and even still I was still amazed by the scale and detail of the castle!! It was used for all the wide angle shots of the castle mixed with CGI magic… We spent ages here, it really was very special!
So there you have it… a incredibly fun and utterly geeky birthday treat for the boy!
One more part of the tour that was worth mentioning as it was really lovely was the Olivanders Wand shop which you walked through on the way to the gift shop. The was about 4000 wands on show, all with individual labels on for everyone who was involved in the film, actors, set designers, film crew, everyone who helped on the films had a wand box. With the help of a very knowledgable lady we sought out all the famous actors including Maggie Smith and the late Alan Rickman!
So there you go, so for the massive photo overload but it really was just so good! If you’ve never been before I can’t recommend it enough, I think regardless of if you’re a HP fan or not this will still be something to enjoy (but even more so if you are) Finally, book well in advance and book an early slot as possible. Our time was 4ish (but they did let us in about an hour early so bear that in mind!!) and we left about 10ish absolutely knackered so a few more breaks throughout the day would have been nice!