Summer Holiday Post...
The big treat of this summer holidays was a visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour!
We'd been looking forward to this for a while, we've been reading our way through all the series at bedtimes for a long while now and we always said, once we'd finished we'd do the tour!
So tickets were bought, expensive for a group of us but not too bad for a day out.
The drive down for us via the M40 from Oxford was really easy, our timed entry was for 12pm so we could avoid the rush hour and it only took about an hour.
We did leave the toddler at home, the tour states that there are uneven parts and buggy's may be difficult. I think we would have been fine, there were buggys around but I felt that the issue was more that they'd be in the way if there were lots and also being not yet two, she would have been bored and we'd have missed lots while entertaining her! Harsh but true!
So an important point, when you arrive at the car park, you need your tickets to confirm entry, no ticket no entry to park! I know this now but as our party were travelling in two cars, it wasn't us who had the envelope with all the tickets in! Thankfully we were the last to arrive as the rest of our party gave our car details to the security guards to verify us!!
So lots of spaces, easy to park and it's right in front of the studios, we arrived about an hour early so amused ourselves by looking at the large chess pieces (from Philosopher's Stone) they have on show out the front and then also in the lobby, where there are casts of the principal actors hands (Emma Watson's are dainty!), props hanging from the ceiling and you can also freshen up, get something to eat and drink and pick up your digital guide + headphones if required.
They have a queuing barrier system so that you all line up ready to actually get in to the tour and again even the kids found the waiting fine, there are more props to look at and the digital guide gives them things to look at & listen to.
When you're ready to be admitted, you enter a small dark room where you are welcomed and given the relevant tour details while watching lots of worldwide film posters on the walls, this area is all just standing only.
Then you're shown through to a small cinema room,with lovely comfy leather cinema seats, they shut the doors, darken the lights and play a video to welcome you.
I will admit that my claustrophobia started to kick in at this point as I wasn't expecting it and had to stop myself from panicking! I know, I know! It's getting better but enclosed spaces make me panic!
It's just a short film and then they let you loose to start your look around which starts in the Great Hall (amazing!) and then walks you around the props and sets all the while educating you about film making.
I found it fascinating but you don't have to be a Harry Potter fan either, the work and skill of the industry is eye opening. It's a real celebration of British film making.
I took loads of photos but some parts are quite dark and you weren't supposed to use flash, so they're not great I'm afraid.
My favourite props are the costumes, sadly no touching but I loved seeing them all up close and this pattern drafting for Fleur Delacour's school uniform was fascinating!
I felt like being in the Gryffindor common room! Which when you've seen it on screen and then your in it, was bizarre!
There was attention to detail on everything, large and small items which you can't even see on screen.
Knitting in action at the Weasleys, magical moving needles!
Draco and his mother's costumes, you hardly see any of the detail in the films, especially not on Bellatrix's (below)
My other favourite props were the design items, again the level of care and attention to detail when most of these items are on film for mere seconds is lovely.
I could have spent ages trying to read all the articles on the Daily Prophet!
After the first large hangar, there's an outside courtyard, where the larger props/sets are, such as the Dursleys house and the Hogwarts bridge.
There are also tables and chairs and a few small snack bars, the selection of things to eat was very small, sandwiches, biscuits, ice-cream etc but also drinks and the famed Butterbeer!
We actually liked it, it was like cream soda but more syrupy and creamy.
I would have liked a better food selection here, it's like a halfway breather and we were all hungry, I'm not sure you're allowed your own food in but I think I'd try and squeeze in a few sandwiches to my bag when we come again!
The second building contains the creature effects, Diagon Alley and the model making.
The model at the end was fantastic, you can walk all around it and the lighting changes to simulate a full day.
This is the last room but then you can access the gift shop where you can peruse to your hearts content!
There are gifts for all budgets from postcards to broomsticks, I was slightly astonished by the price of the chocolate frogs - £7 they were solid chocolate but I'd rather have had a hollow one if it meant it was cheaper!
The girls were allowed a wand each as part of their birthday presents this year, they chose Hermione's & Ginnys and I went mad and bought a Luna Lovegood one. They were £25 each but I think they're well made, not wood, I think they're resin but a lovely prop reproduction, every HP fan needs a wand, don't they?!
Conclusion? Ten out of Ten, recommended and we're dying to go again...Halloween?...Christmas?!