17/09/2012

We're off to see the Wizards

Harry Potter Studio Tour Scrapbook part 1
If you’ve ever wondered what butterbeer might taste like or just how big the great hall at Hogwarts is then you should book to go on Warner Bros Harry Potter studio tour. Located in Leavesden about an hour out of London lie the studios where much of the Octology (that’s eight films apparently) was shot. In three hours or so you can soak up the world that JK Rowling so vividly invented and which was so richly detailed in the movies. It’s remarkable how much has been preserved; in fact it’s doubtful if anything was thrown away. From early sketches to scale models to complete sets, props, vehicles and even buildings a great swathe of the Potter films is here. The tour is divided across two soundstages with a back lot open air area in between.
Doused in studio lights and packed with informative extras on screens or via a nifty digital guide- plus very helpful staff- the tour is well worth taking if you like the films. There’s something for people of all ages and barely enough time to take it all in.  There’s even a shop at the end and you will feel compelled to buy something to remind you of your trip. So this is my personal two part scrapbook of just some of the many things you can find..

The main hall includes a canteen where you can see just how many people have turned up in costume which some do. Once you’ve queued for a bit and just before you go through the main doors, there is the famous cupboard under the stairs where Harry lived at the Dursleys. Close up it seems even smaller than it looks in the films. Notice the dustpan and brush!
Once inside there is a short film and a great moment where the tour begins in earnest that you need to see for yourself. Here are the doors to the Great Hall. Yes, they do actually open into the hall as well. The hall is as impressive as you imagine. It has a real stone floor and impressive stone walls with wood panels. This photo shows about three quarters of the length of it. Costumes from each of the houses are scattered around. The set has no proper ceiling and never did, to allow CGI effects to be projected. The candles were computer generated too though they did try to use real ones but the string holding them kept catching fire. This bit of footage better shows the scale of the set.
video

The common room where Harry and co hang out. It underlines how the whole Potterverse does not seem to be set in any particular timeframe. This stuff for example has a very 1950s feel to it.
One of the most impressive sets was Dumbledore’s office with its multi layered library look. The Pensieve was kept out of reach though in case we started nicking memories. .
This was too long a set to fit into one photo. The stirrers occasionally move on their own when you least expect.


At the end of the first part of the tour is a cabinet including copies of the Daily Prophet, sweets and toys. Again attention to detail is amazing even on things that would only be glimpsed on screen or perhaps just lying around in the background.
Part 2 soon!

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