Sunday, 24 April 2016

THE MAKING OF HARRY POTTER || WARNER BROS. STUDIO TOUR

I think it is safe to say that we have all dreamt about that day where we run downstairs in the morning to collect the post, to see that it has been confirmed that we are in fact a Wizard and we have finally received our very own Hogwarts acceptance letter, right?
Well, there is no need to dream anymore because now, thanks to Warner Brother Studios we actually can go to Hogwarts..Kind of! I mean, don't go expecting an owl to show up to your house delivering the news that you are officially going, but it is now possible to go and spend a day on the Harry Potter film set, where you get to experience everything that you see in the films and all that you read about in the books. For that inner twelve year old self inside you that always has been and always will be a Harry Potter obsessed fanatic, The Making of Harry Potter, Warner Brothers Studio Tour is without a doubt a must see!

Located about 40 minutes outside of central London, these Warner Brother Studios were the production home to all eight of the beloved Harry Potter movies. Today, they house many of the authentic sets, props and costumes from the films, and they also demonstrate some of the incredible technology that was used to bring J.K.Rowling's magical World of Wizardry to life. On your three hour (roughly) tour around the studios, you will have your opportunity to discover all of the hidden secrets and tricks behind The Making of Harry Potter.

Before heading on your journey to the studios, it is compulsory that you plan your visit in advance. You MUST pre-book your tickets ahead of time either on the Warner Bros. website or through a tour company..You cannot just simply turn up on the day and go on the tour. If you can, I would advise booking your tickets for your visit as early as possible, because seeing as the studios are such a huge phenomenon here in the UK, tickets do sell quickly, unsurprisingly. While pre-booking your tickets, you can choose your desired tour time on the day that you want to visit, and you are then asked to arrive about 30 minutes in advance to your allocated time slot..This then gives you plenty of time to collect your tickets before hand.  

When planning your visit it is also a good idea to have your travel in mind and think about how you are getting to and from the Studios. If you are coming from London, I really recommend going on the train as it is super quick and easy..You simply go from London Euston station to Watford Junction station, and then from there, the Studio is just a short bus journey away. For just £2 you can get on the fun-filled Harry Potter Studio Tour bus which will pick you up and drop you back off at the front of Watford Junction train station..It is so convenient and lets be honest, travelling on this bus just adds to the whole excitement of the day!

Once you have arrived at the studios, you first have to go through bag and security checks before entering..On a busy day this may take a little bit of time, so bare that in mind! When all the relevant checks have been done, you then enter straight into the main entrance where you will find a cafe for any refreshments, a Starbucks coffee counter, the toilets, a souvenir gift shop, a lot of die-hard Harry Potter fans (some may even be dressed up) and of course, the dreaded queues for entering the tour. Don't worry though, the queues seem to go down pretty quickly and while you wait you get a sneak peek at the first genuine set piece in the building..Harry potter's bedroom under the stairs from 4 Privet Drive! When you are nearing the end of the queue, there are a few employees at the front ready to check your admission tickets, and once that has been done, you are then ready to get started on your tour. 

The tour begins in a small, compact room where there are some short video clips being played for you to watch..the clips involve many of the people that worked behind the scenes making Harry Potter what it is today, and they are all talking about how this phenomenon come about. There is also a tour guide in the room with you who will go on to talk about the incredible experience you have ahead of you, and of course go through the standard rules, regulations and healthy and safety requirements. From the first room you are then taken through into a small auditorium, where all of the visitors in your group will sit down and watch another short video presentation before proceeding. In this video the writers, directors and producers talk about how they decided to turn the Harry Potter books into films, and there are also some behind the scene glimpses of the films, as well as commentary from the actors, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson (Or as we know them..Harry, Ron and Hermione!). Honestly, it is quite an emotional short video to watch, hearing how much the experience meant to them all - Get the tissues ready!  
As this video clip ends, you will see a freeze-frame shot of those Iconic doors that lead into the great hall, then lo and behold, the projector screen is lifted up and you are faced with the REAL Great Hall doors, which everybody is eager to get inside! 

Walking through the doors into the Great Hall is honestly such a surreal moment! This was a set that was built back in 2000 for the first ever Harry Potter movie, and it was used in all subsequent films up until the Deathly Hallows Part 1. In addition to the two long dining tables, the Great Hall also displays a multitude of the students costumes from each of the different films as well as the teachers' outfits as well. The only thing missing was of course the enchanting Great Hall ceiling, as that is actually added with green screen effects..However, regardless of this, it is still completely mesmerising to see all of the incredible details.  

Above || Some of Daniel Radcliffe's first outfits, when he was aged just 11!
After being ushered out of the Great Hall, visitors are then free to take as much time as they would like to explore the rest of the studios, as the rest of the tour is completely self-guided. 

The first area you walk to upon leaving the Great Hall is a large room that contains plenty of sets, costumes and miscellaneous props which were all used in the movies. In here you can spot the Mirror of Erised, the ice sculpture from the Yule Ball and so, SO much more! In addition to just seeing everything, the studios have done a great job of placing playcards just about everywhere, full of useful information, detailing what things are, how they were made and when they were used in the movies..Take your time to read whilst your there, it is really interesting and you may learn a secret or two! Also, if you have any questions, there are employees milling about ready to answer them for you!

Above || The Ice Sculpture from the Yule Ball.
Above || The Leaky Cauldron. 
Above || The Mirror of Erised.
Above || The Phoenix  Sprial Staircase Entrance to Dumbledore's Office.
Above || The Chambers of Secrets Door.
Above || The Hogwarts Pendulum Clock Tower.

The Gryffindor Common Room || This common room at Hogwarts is where Gryffindor students are able to go to relax after a long day of studying. With its crackling fire and plush sofas, it represents warmth and coziness and it is very inviting.

Dumbledore's  Office || The Headmasters Office is the Office in Hogwarts Castle, in which the current Headmasters or Headmistresses of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry work during the school year. It is located in the Headmaster's Tower, and it is accessed through Gargoyle Corridor on the second floor, where the Gargoyle guards the entrance to the office. 

The Potions Classroom || The Potions Classroom was one of the large dungeons in Hogwarts Castle that was used for potion lessons to take place. 

Hagris's Hut || Hagrid's Hut was the home of Rubeus Hagrid (and some of his pets) during his years as gatekeeper and teaching at Hogwarts School. It is a small wooden cabin located outside of Hogwarts Castle, just on the edge of the Forbidden Forest. 

The Weasley's House || The Burrow was the family home of the Weasley's clan. It was a thoroughly magical dwelling that become a second home to Harry Potter.
After taking your time to admire all of the amazing props and small sets, you then walk through to a second room which houses something quite specular..Platfrom 9 and 3/4! In this area you will find the genuine Hogwarts express, (which you can walk on, if you are interested in seeing the inside) and also many luggage trollies each one belonging to a different character from the film..Some even appear to be going through the wall (it's a great photo opp!).   

Once you have seen everything in the first studio, you then move onto the backlot which is an outdoor area that features some of the exterior sets. Here, you can take a look at 4 Privet Drive, Hagrid's bike and the flying Ford Anglia..Amongst other things as well. At this point, you can also hop on the Knight Bus for a photo and you can even have a taste of Butterbeer! Being one of the only two places in the world that you can try it, of course I had to order myself a glass. I am pretty sure that if you drank Butterbeer on a regular basis it would be your answer to diabetes as it is extremely sweet..I have such a sweet tooth, but even for me it was sickeningly sweet! 









Above || The Hogwarts Bridge.
Above || Wizard's Chess Pieces.
Moving on, you go back inside into the second studio, and this time it is into the creatures and art department. In here is where you can learn about all of the technology that was needed to bring each of the non-human creatures to life, and you can also see how the artists planned each of the sets. As you can imagine, the amount of thought and planning that went in to creating and producing all of these large detailed sets and making monsters, goblins and various other mythical creatures come to life was pretty extraordinary. 

Onto the next part of the experience and possibly my favourite part of the tour that I anticipated most..Welcome to Diagonally - Ooops, I mean Diagon Alley (If you know, you know!). Walking down the street and passing all of the exteriors of the shops, and peeping through the windows of the places where Harry and his friends did all of their pre-term shopping, I really did feel as if I was exploring a magical town that felt somewhat familiar. Oh how I wished I was a Wizard on my way to buy my wand rather than a mere muggle just spending their day dreaming away.

Nearing the end of the tour, the penultimate room is dedicated to the outstanding art department, who came up with all the concept art to plan the sets, the characters and the buildings. A massive amount of work and effort went into making real architectural drawing for every building in the films, and I applaud each and every one of the workers immensely that had anything to do with the creations..their craftsmanship is completely out of this world! It was so fascinating to see all of the mini scale paper models and hear that some of the characters, like Dobby the House Elf, took anything from 50-100 artist drafts to get right..Dedication at its finest!

In every new room that you walk into at the studios there is something more incredible to be seen than in the last, and the final room of the entire experience is certainly no exception..they have definitely left the most stunning, intricate exhibit until last. This last room is where you see the centrepiece of the studio tour and the jewel of the art department which was built for the very first film..A hand sculpted, incredibly detailed model of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, built to 1:24 scale. Visitors are able to walk around the entire model, which sits at nearly 50 feet in diameter, to ensure that they get a full, 360 degree view of the whole of Hogwarts in all of its glory. 
It took 86 artists and crew members to construct the first version of the model, which was then rebuilt and altered many times for the following seven films. The work for this piece was so extensive that if all of the man hours that were spent producing the model and reworking it over the years were added up, it would come to a total of over 74 years! The model has over 2,500 fibre optic lights which are shown off to full effect by being on a day-to-night cycle that takes place every 4 minutes, so you can really experience and appreciate its full beauty. An incredible amount of detail has clearly gone in to making this Hogwarts model and it is honestly so mesmerising its indescribable..It truly is the perfect, most beautiful end to your special Harry Potter experience. 

Everywhere you turn inside the studio, the Wizarding world of Harry Potter surrounds you and it is utterly surreal..It is just like a dream. I knocked on the door of 4 Privet Drive, glazed at my reflection in the Mirror of Erised and I even got to indulge in a sweet mug of butterbeer..How many people can say that they have experienced that before?!
If you are a Harry Potter fan, I cannot recommend visiting the Warner Brother Studios enough - In fact, even if you are not a Harry Potter superfan I would still recommend paying a visit..It is such a wonderful exhibition that it really will appeal to the majority of people. You cannot help but be enthralled by the details in the sets, costumes and props on display, and there is nearly nothing that you will not know about Harry Potter when you walk away from the experience..it will completely open your eyes to just how much time, work, persistence and total dedication went in to The Making of Harry Potter!
Are you a Harry Potter fan? Have you been to the Studios before? 

Thank you all so much for reading. Do not forget to follow me on Bloglovin' to make sure you do not miss out on any future posts, and in that case, I will speak to you soon.

Lots of Love,
ALICIA
XO
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