jc travels

Harry Potter And The…Warner Bros. Studio?

Wow, I can’t believe it’s already been almost 2 months since my time in Europe. I never did quite finish posting about my trip (the last 2 days, to be exact). Maybe it’s because I’ve been so busy adjusting back to normal life and getting into the routine of working full-time. Or sheer laziness?

But no, those are probably just lame excuses for what would otherwise be denial.

Truth is, I felt that the finality of it all would substantiate the fact that it had really come to an end.

As time goes on, my time in Europe seems to feel less and less real, and further and further away. Cultural sensitivities are becoming more muted and memories are feeling hazy. It’s kind of frightening how quickly things change. But hey, more reason to travel again, right?

Good thing that I finished blogging while I was still there, because the following words captured my experience in its realest form:

September 14, 2013
This post will undoubtedly be the dweebiest thing I’ve ever written, so just bear with me here.

Growing up, I’ve always hated reading. Something about sitting in one spot for a long time without doing anything physically active drives me insane. There is one exception though. Harry Potter. Put me in a room with nothing else but a Harry Potter book, and I’ll be fine.

All my geeky dreams came true today. About an hour outside of London is Leavesden Studios, where you can see the behind-the-scenes sets, props, and everything else of the Harry Potter movies. All the tickets for the time we were in London were sold out, but I managed to find tickets through an outside travel agency. Yeah, it was a little bit more expensive, but hey–if the Harry Potter series can get me to sit in a chair for 8 hours without going absolutely mental, I think it’s worth a few extra pounds.

We took a bus (which was dressed to the nines in Harry Potter decals) from central London directly to the Warner Brother’s Studio. I felt like I was a kid again, heading on a school bus on my way to some sort of crazy field trip. I imagine this is how some people feel about Disneyland.

For those of you Harry Potter fans who can’t make it out to England, don’t worry–I jam-packed this post with a ton of photos (perhaps too many).



Right upon entering the studios, they take you into a large theater room and show a video, emcee’d by Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson about their experience filming all 8 films, how much of a family all the cast and crew became, and what to expect of the visit. While the video was thoroughly awesome, I was itching in my seat to be let into the studio. You do get a peep of the cupboard under the stairs while you wait, though:


After the video is done playing, the screen recedes back into the ceiling and reveals the doors leading to the Great Hall. If I had no shame at all, I literally would have squealed and pushed by way through the crowd of pre-teen girls to get to the front. Though, I had a little bit of self-control and managed to politely work my way towards the entrance. (Unfortunately I can’t say the same for when the doors actually opened.)

Being in the Great Hall was awesome, even if there wasn’t an unlimited supply of delicious foods magically appearing on the tables. All the tables, table settings, and statues were there. In the front, there are life-size models of the professors, each dressed in the real costumes that were used during the filming. They’re a lot shorter in real life.




Turning out of the Great Hall is a gigantic room with all the sets used during the filming–the Gryffindor common room, Gryffindor boy’s dormitory, potion’s classroom, the dungeon, Hagrid’s hut, the door leading to the Chamber of Secrets, the door of locks at Gringott’s, the gate leading into Hogsmeade, the Ministry of Magic, Umbridge’s Office, Dumbledore’s Office, the Griffin stairwell, and so on…

























Scattered among all these sets are areas filled with props from the movie. You’ll find the original Nimbus 2000, Firebolt, Nimbus 2001, all the horcruxes, the golden egg and the goblet of fire, etc.

There is also an animation set that shows you exactly how all the Quidditch scenes were filmed, and all the equipment and machinery that were used behind it.




Other things you’ll find in this room are producer’s visions behind the movies, videos explaining the filming process (including how they trained all the animals), the hair and make-up, costume and set design, all of the paintings in Hogwarts castle (each hand-painted, and you might find some paintings of the crew members), all the Daily Prophets and other print designs, Weasley brothers’ merchandise, and everything else you could imagine.

I have to admit, it was so overwhelming that I ended getting a little light-headed after a while. There is so much to look at, and in all the excitement it’s kind of hard to remind yourself to slow down and take your time looking at everything.








Luckily, between the studio rooms is an area called the “backlot”. Here, they have a cafe and a Butterbeer bar where you can rest your feet and take a break from the Harry Potter overload.

Butterbeer is actually pretty good–much better than the version I attempted to recreate one time, anyways. It tastes like a caramel, cream soda topped with a light, butterscotch vanilla cream foam. Not too sweet at all. The way they foamed the cream on top was almost cartoon-like, with big round bubbles that almost looked fake. Genius. Though, we agreed that the only thing that could have made that butterbeer a little more perfect is a bit of Guinness and Bailey’s. Maybe they should look into selling an adult-version of butterbeer. I mean hey, if I were a parent bringing my kids here, I think I’d welcome a butterbeer (or several) after a couple of hours.



Outside in the backlot you’ll also find the Knight Bus, Privet Drive, the flying car, the flying motorcycle, and the wooden, roofed bridge in Hogwarts that they always walked across.







Moving on past the backlot, you enter into the next studio. Here, you’ll find all the models of the creatures that were used in the films. You can find everything here–goblins, elves, threstrals, dementors, dragons, baby Voldemort, Book of Monsters, pixies, Aragog, Buckbeak, etc. You’ll even find the life-size models of Harry Potter, Dumbledore, Fred Weasley, Hermione, Katie Bell, etc. that were used for their animated counterparts. Everything is crafted with such detail and precision. You can’t help but admire the design team that worked on this film. You can’t really appreciate the sheer amount of effort they put into each and every detail of the movie until you see it in real life.




After the creatures and animations section is the absolute best part. Diagon Alley. Walking through Diagon Alley almost made me feel I was in the very first film when Harry walked through with Hagrid for the first time. They played the same song which really contributed to that feeling of nostalgia, haha. You first pass by Gringotts, then Ollivander’s, Eeylops Owl Emporium, Flourish & Blotts, Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes, and more. I wish we could have entered the stores, but you only get a view of the storefront.







As you exit the studio, you’re taken through galleries full of concept art behind the production of Harry Potter (my favorite was Andrew William’s art). Then, you’ll pass by a bunch of paper models, designed with almost excruciating detail, displaying the interior architecture of various buildings in the films.








And then finally… you are at Hogwarts. This massive, 3D model is INSANE. The details on this thing… You know the Hogwarts Castle you see in the movies? They’re aerial shots of this model, with some special effects and green screen magic added. I knew the castle was too beautiful to be true. But this model comes close. I made a slow round around the castle, appreciating every finite detail of this building. They planned everything with such detail. From the inner courtyards to the rolling hills and plants, they’ve got it covered. Really, really admire the brains behind all of this. Being here really makes you appreciate the movie that much more.






At the end, you exit into the souvenir shop (of course). Everything was overpriced (and not particularly cool), so I settled with a chocolate frog. 8£ was a hefty price to pay, but where else am I going to get an authentic chocolate frog?

Back in London that night, we took one last stroll along the Thames River. I’m glad we did. It’s both more lively and beautiful at night, in my opinion.









Then, we had dinner at a restaurant called Porter’s English Pub, which supposedly serves really good traditional English dishes. We got a steak, Guinness, and mushroom pie and a steak and kidney pudding. The pie was alright, and the steak and kidney pudding was absolutely atrocious. Before the kidney even touched my lips, I was punched in the face with a strong odor of cow manure (and it tasted like it too). Horrible. I don’t know how people can eat kidney. I mean, I guess if you’re into the whole cow feces thing (only joking…kind of).




When we got home, I turned up the geek level up 10 notches. We watched Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Could I get any more embarrassing? Yes. I ate my chocolate frog at the same time Harry and Ron were eating theirs on their first train ride into Hogwarts.


Also, I got the Dumbledore wizard card.

Yep, life is complete.

  1. Jen says: December 11, 20139:56 pm

    This is the best entry. Wish I was there!

  2. x says: August 19, 201510:26 am

    Dumbledore card, haha. Life is indeed complete, what else is there left? :’)

    • Jacqueline says: August 19, 201510:28 am

      Ohh noooooo this one is so dweeby and embarrassing

  3. 123movied says: June 4, 20177:09 pm

    Visitors can also experience green screen technology first-hand, learn how intricate prosthetics help transform actors in to creatures and marvel at the innovative artistry that brings a director’s vision to the screen.

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