Thursday, August 9, 2012

Quidditch, Anyone?

No, Quidditch is not an Olympic sport, but if the International Quidditch Association gets their way, maybe we'll be watching it in Rio in 2016.  In the meantime, Sonia and I took a break from the Olympics to go to Leavesden, just northwest of London, to tour the Warner Brothers studios where all the Harry Potter movies were filmed.
The Making of Harry Potter: Warner Brothers Studio Tour
This is no theme park -- these are the actual sets, props, and costumes from all eight movies.  The studio was the home away from home for the cast and crew of all the Harry Potter movies for more than ten years.  We learned how the magic of the books was brought to life through a combination of computer effects, forced perspective, and some incredibly complex sets and props.  The tour was mostly self-guided, but there was so much to see and do, that it takes about three hours to go through the whole thing.  Here are some highlights of what we saw...
Harry's cupboard under the stairs
The Great Hall (the ceiling was all CGI...)
Gryffindor fashions
Professors Flitwick, Moody, and Trelawney
McGonagall, Dumbledore, and Snape
In the unlikely event that anyone got bored on the tour, there were also 17 golden snitches hidden in various spots.  We found a few of them, but there was so much to see that we stopped looking early on.
A golden snitch
Refreshment table from the Yule Ball
Formals from the Yule Ball.  A replica of Hermione's dress
was for sale in the gift shop for £240 ($375)
Ron's dress robe
Wigs and hairpieces
The actress who played Luna Lovegood helped design some of her own costumes
The gates of Hogwarts are guarded by (what else?) winged warthogs
Gryffindor boys dorm (note the trunk marked 'HP' under the bed)
Forced perspective makes this hallway look much longer
(it's really only about 6 feet deep)
The Fat Lady
The mirror of erised
Gryffindor common room
Portrait of Minerva McGonagall as a young witch
Invisibility cloak
The stair-elevator to Dumbledore's office
Dumbledore's office
The Pensieve
The Goblet of Fire
The Potions classroom
Door from the Chamber of Secrets
 These doors were built by skilled craftsmen -- the locking mechanisms really work!
Door to Gringotts Vault
Quidditch uniforms
Some of the animal actors who played Hedwig, Fang,
Mrs. Norris, and Crookshanks
Inside the Burrow
Death Eater masks
Ministry of Magic fireplaces
Graphic arts
Weasley's 'U-NO-POO: The Constipation Sensation that's Gripping the Nation'
Harry's Hogwarts acceptance letter
Dolores Umbridge's costumes. 
The shades of pink grew progressively darker, along with her character

Umbridge's office.  Very pink.  Lots of kittens
Ministry of Magic monument
 The next part of the tour took us outside to the backlot for some of the outdoor scenes.
Of course, they had butterbeer at the refreshment stand
The Knight Bus
The Riddle Family crypt
No 4, Privet Drive (the Dursley's house)

The covered footbridge from Hogwarts
Giant chess pieces
The Potter's cottage (where Harry's parents lived)
 Back inside, we walked through the creature shop, where we saw many familiar faces...
The head of Nearly Headless Nick
The goblins of Gringotts
Aragog with a Death Eater and the head of the Basilisk
 Next up: Diagon Alley!  It was amazing how detailed the shop window displays were.  It was also very crowded and dark and hard to get decent photos.
Diagon Alley
Olivander's Wands
Flourish & Blotts books
Eeylops Owl Emporium
Weasley's Wizard Wheezes
Puking Pastilles
Beyond Diagon Alley we saw incredibly detailed models, blueprints, and concept art for sets and scenes, costumes, and props from the movies.
blueprints and scale models
Scale model of The Burrow
Gorgeous concept art for the Whomping Willow
But the most amazing of all the amazing things we saw was the massive scale model of Hogwarts that filled an entire 2-story room.  This model was used for many of the exterior shots, particularly aerial shots where the camera takes the point of view of someone flying over the castle.
It was incredibly detailed, down to individually painted bricks, tiny fiber optic lights, and real plants and rocks.
Herbology greenhouses
Crappy photo, but it gives you a better sense of scale
The final room of the tour was the interior of Ollivander's Wand shop, with hundreds of individually labeled wand boxes.  Each box bore the name of a member of the cast and crew from all eight films
Ollivander's wands
Sonia spotted at least one familiar name among the boxes
After spending some time browsing in the massive gift shop and having tea and scones in the cafe, we embarked on the somewhat complex journey home: shuttle bus to train to tube to another train.  A long trip, but totally worth it!  If you are a Harry Potter fan -- witch, wizard, or muggle -- and have a chance to come to London (or live in London), this is a must.  And don't think you've already experienced the tour through my blog post -- there are plenty more surprises that I haven't revealed here...

1 comment:

  1. And then take a trip up north to Alnwick Castle, which forms at least the exterior of Hogwarts. Gorgeous! (We hit that on the honeymoon.) - Kinnari


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