Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Harry Potter Part I

I had been trying desperately to get tickets to the Harry Potter studio tour, but there was nothing available. This is not like a regular attraction, where you show up and stand in line for hours waiting to get in. It's far more civilized in that you book your tickets in advance, show up at the appointed time, and proceed through the tour. They do not pack in as many people as they can (are you listening, Disney?) Suits me fine, except being school holidays, it was booked solid. Nothing available. At. All.

But I persevered, checked the website regularly and was lucky to get two tickets for the next day. One at 3 pm, one at 6:30 pm. Kyle and I figured it was worth it, even if we had to do it separately and even if it was going to mean being there for seven hours (it's roughly 3 hours to go through).
We arrived early because I was terrified of being late and missing the three o'clock. After explaining our situation to a staff member, she said there was room for us to go right then at two. Together. We were thrilled. Don't we look it?
We stood in line for no more than 30 minutes. There was palpable excitement in the air. There were kids in costume and everyone but us seemed to have a scar on his forehead. The family in front of us were gingers! I resisted taking a picture and asking if they were related to the Weasleys.

The Cupboard Under the Stairs!
Disclaimer right now. My pictures aren't very good. The light is low and I thought the pics were clearer than they are. But we bought a very nice Official Guide book to make up for it.

The Ford Anglia that Harry and Ron flew to Hogwarts. Silly boys. You know, when you ask a boy 'what were you thinking?' when they've done something that makes no sense whatsoever, the answer is, they weren't. They just don't. At least that's my experience. That goes for girls too, sometimes.
After standing in line, you move in a chunk of about 150 people (very rough guess) into a room with a tour guide who talks for a bit, then shows you a film on how the movie was made. When the first book was out, it made its way on to the 'low priority' shelf at a production company. Production companies are always looking for new material and will purchase the option to produce a film based on a book. They don't always make the film, but buying the option is the first step. A lowly production secretary took the book home, read it over the weekend, insisted her boss read it and that boss was David Heyman. He couldn't put it down either. I hope she got a share in the profits from the series of films because that company owes a lot to that secretary.

Then you move into a cinema where Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint (on film) tell you how amazing it was to grow up on the set of Harry Potter, and what to expect in the tour. Then the movie screen lifts up into the ceiling, and reveals the doors to the Great Hall!!!
This was the largest of the sets. The floor is real York stone. It's super solid. The pictures probably don't convey the true size of the room, but it is very large. It was surreal to be there.

I read the first HP book when I was pregnant with Emily, my second child. My oldest, Kyle (who accompanied me on the tour) was just eighteen months old. We raised our four children on the Harry Potter series. The books and the movies were so much a part of their upbringing, and it is something that each of us enjoyed and shared together. I credit J.K. Rowling's books with how much my kids love to read. Like many children of their generation, Harry Potter books were the first long chapter books that my kids read. They (and their parents) devoured them.
There is a gargoyle for each of the four houses, and they are repeated around the Hall.
The Slytherin uniforms. On the left are the robes that Draco Malfoy wore.
The Hogwarts crest over the fireplace in the Great Hall.
Ten points for Gryffindor!
There's far too many pictures for one post, so look for more to come.

For Part 2 of the Tour, go here.
For Part 3 of the Tour, go here.

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