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Unread 17 Dec 17, 07:19 PM  
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geoffa
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Warner Bros Harry Potter Tour - Birthday

Birthday at Hogwarts
**MAY CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS **

It was my best friends birthday yesterday and as a treat we decided to take her and her husband to a visit to the Warner Bros studios at Leavesden for the Making of Harry Potter tour.



The tickets had been booked months in advance.

Leavesden is some 5 miles north west of Watford, most firmly in Hertfordshire, so I have to chuckle when the studios refer to themselves as being in London. They are only just within the M25 (Junction 20)!

Anyhow, we make our way there from Harrow Jenny & Jeff are staying over with us for the weekend.

Darrin and I have visited previously but that was a few years ago. There have been additions since and its these Ill paticularly concentrate on.

Our tickets are timed for 10:30a.m. but we actually join the line about 10 :15. You go up and down and up and down passing the cupboard under the stairs where we first find Harry in the very first film staying with the Dursley family at Privet Drive. If you look carefully at the various bits on the shelf you see a pair of spectacles actually worn by Daniel Ratcliffe in the film. Difficult to see on the picture but Ive marked the location.



We go into the pre - show area and the CM rattles off some bad jokes: In a moment youll be Slytherin into the auditorium The Gryffindors will open towards you.

The cinema is quite grand with leather upholstered seats. We manage to get on the front row we have an ulterior motive. They show the film and then the screen disappears to reveal the doors to the Great Hall. They ask if anyone is celebrating anything birthdays etc. We haul Jenny to her feet and Darrin propels her towards the doors. Shes not missing this!





We knew about this from our prior visit. The CM invites her, three children and another adult to open the doors. What an amazing sight awaits them.



Its all been made over for Christmas.








At the top of Christmas trees are witches revolving on their brooms. The Christmas puddings on the tables are aflame and Professor Flitwick is conducting the orchestra at the far end of the hall.










We move on to the other displays such as the dormitory and the common room:





Dumbledores office:



If you look carefully the sorting hat is up on a window ledge:



Hagrids House:




The Burrow (The Weasleys House):



The Potions Classroom:




Ministry of Magic:




The Forbidden Forest this really atmospheric with its rolling mist and trees which have twelve foot wide trunks.





You meet Buckbeak, the Hippogriff who bows to you. (The animatronics of this are so smooth and very lifelike.)



Further into the forest and its spiders.




Aragog lurks under the roots of the trees:



Another new part for us Kings Cross Station and the Hogwarts Express. The engine was constructed around the same time as the two that were made for Universal Studios in Orlando. The actual train in the films is the Olton Hall with a Hogwarts makeover.

They use a huge cyclorama of the view at the north end of the station which helps to give the whole thing some depth.





The train here at the studios is static but you are allowed to walk through the compartment carriage which was used for over ten years during the making of the films. It is an original BR carriage but is made over to Hogwarts Railways.



Each compartment is supposed to be dedicated to one of the films but a scarf and a few magazines doesnt really cut it. There is a cut-away carriage at the rear with Harry and Ron and the Honeydukes Express sweet trolley.





Jenny tries to get through to Platform 9 3/4:




Then its out into the open air via the Studio caf. This didnt exist the last time we visited. A butterbeer stall can be found here (6 with souvenir mug). Sandwiches average 5 each! An ice cream cornet is 4.95! (Take your own lunch they provide a picnic area).

Knight bus, 4 Privet Drive:






Front Room at Privet Drive this is new:



The Potters House and the Covered Bridge:






The next part is how the various creatures from Gringott goblins to thestrals are created:



Diagon Alley follows:

Then there is the model and art department just amazing and beautiful things to see:



The finale is Hogwarts itself. This model is a 1:24 scale model, with details taken from the original sets at Alnwick Castle and Durham Cathedral as well as many French Chateaux and is the final trump card. It took 86 artists and crew members to construct the first version which was then rebuilt and altered many times for the next seven films.







The music playing in the room is "Harry in Winter" from HP and the Goblet of Fire. It just send shivers down your spine:



At this time of year the model receives a snow makeover which just makes it magical. Heaven knows how it is all cleaned off for the spring.
The work was so extensive that if one was to add all the man hours that have gone into building and reworking the model, it would come to over 74 years. The model, which sits at nearly 50 feet in diameter, has over 2,500 fibre optic lights that simulate lanterns and torches and even gave the illusion of students passing through hallways in the films.

Whilst you take in the wonder of this model, the wonderful plays in the background. Its pure magic.
You finish by passing through the wand shop where every box on the shelves commemorates names of all those associated with the production of Harry Potter films from actors to directors to film crew to runners to costume to set designers to lighting to..everybody.

If there is one real downside to this attraction, in my opinion, it has to be the souvenir shop. Bad enough they want 14 for photographs but the shop prices are purely astronomical. 27 for a scarf, 35 for a T shirt, 45 for a puzzle. Apart from fridge magnets and pencils there is little a child on a school trip could buy. They had tiny banners of the various school houses barely 3 inches long and just a bit of printed plastic - 12.

However, we didnt let that spoil what was a terrific birthday treat. Jenny really enjoyed herself and so did we.

Cheering charms all round.

Oh! Jenny's "Birthday cake". She just loves Krispy Kremes:

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Edited at 07:24 PM.
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Unread 17 Dec 17, 07:44 PM  
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Mr Tom Morrow
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Geoff. What a lovely day out for Jenny and Jeff. I bet they had a blast. I must say the experience looks very good and well worth doing.
Wow. I thought Disney was expensive for souvenirs but those you posted about were really expensive!

I hope Jenny liked peas!
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Edited at 07:48 PM.
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Unread 17 Dec 17, 08:04 PM  
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Bellasmummy
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Looks like you had a great time.

We were there Friday night, early Christmas present for dd.

We had a great time but agree about the gift shop.

Dd got a pin but would have liked other bits but just couldnt justify the cost when we can get the same things cheaper in Florida or online.

We surprised her Friday morning with a treasure hunt to find the tickets. I made a Marauders map that she followed and gave her a HP gift bag with pjs, slippers, notepad and key ring that I picked up in Primark. They do a really good range of reasonably priced HP branded goods. Saved us buying too much in the gift shop!
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Unread 17 Dec 17, 08:27 PM  
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stevekath
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Great day out for you all. We haven't been since they added the Forbidden Forest and Hogwarts Express, but this has certainly whetted my appetite to go again. Agree with you about the Hogwarts model, it is amazing
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Unread 17 Dec 17, 09:03 PM  
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Gryff
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A lovely birthday treat for Jenny and a nice Christmas Day out
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Unread 17 Dec 17, 11:06 PM  
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geoffa
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Tour wise it is one of THE best in the whole of the UK. It's the over priced food and souvenirs that i object to.
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Unread 18 Dec 17, 09:44 AM  
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hornetgirl
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Lovely report and photos. Im ashamed to say that despite living only a couple of miles from Leavesden Ive still never been!
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Unread 18 Dec 17, 10:07 AM  
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Great trip report, we did this in 2015 and loved it.
I would like to go again now they've added some new things it's just such a long drive for us.

I do agree about the prices of souvenirs and food though
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