I confess: I’m a lover of all things Harry Potter. I was almost too embarrassed to go on “The Making Harry Potter” tour, but I’m so glad I did. We weren’t able to get reservations on the Hogwart’s Express bus from London to the studio, but taking the train and a shuttle was much cheaper anyway, and I had such a great time that I don’t care.
I felt a twinge of guilt because I knew my 22-year-old daughter, Kylie, would have loved to accompany us, but that didn’t stop me from going. On the shuttle from the Watford train station we saw two women in their early twenties all decked out in Hogwart’s school garb. One of them even wore Harry Potter glasses. We paid a little extra for the audio tour, which had lots of extras, including short videos on the handheld console. It would be easy to spend the whole day there, but we managed to see what we wanted in under four hours.
First we were ushered into a holding room where a tour guide told us where we were allowed to take photos and gave us a lay of the land. Then he asked for two volunteers, who were allowed to open the huge ornate doors to the Great Hall. Like magic, we were whisked into the Hogwarts’ famous dining hall to audible gasps of thrilled fans who were now living out their Harry Potter fantasy.
We got to walk down Diagon Alley, where Harry and the gang stocked up on school supplies before classes started. We got to see actual costumes and wigs that were used in the seven movies. We saw the room Harry and Ron shared at Hogwarts, Dumbledore’s office where the sorting cap lives, Hagrid’s humble shack, a potions class, and so much more.
We boarded the Hogwarts Express and pushed carts through the wall at Platform 9 3/4. Outside was the Dursleys’ home on Privet Drive and the purple bus used by witches and wizards to traverse London. Every inch of each set showed an incredible attention to detail.
And then when I thought I couldn’t be any more amazed, I entered the huge room that houses the model of Hogwarts itself. I actually gasped in sheer awe. Goosebumps formed on my arms as I approached the model. I know it sounds silly, but I almost cried. Of course dramatic music from the films played, and the lighting changed as I toured around the model so I could see it as it would have appeared in a day shot and at night. It was a beautiful architectural masterpiece that required thousands of hours of work to create.