On Saturday Spiderman surprised me with a tour of the Harry Potter Experience at the Warner Brothers Studio!!! My work colleague Pauline went last year and said it was amazing so we were keen to go. All pictures Courtesy of Warner Brothers Studio Tours London: The Making of Harry Potter.
It was all worked out with a coach to pick us up, drive us to Watford and drop us off at the door of the studio and then let us have 3 hours on the tour and then take us back to London. This made it so easy we could be relaxed and enjoy the tour. The only down side was we were on the coach with a typical a-hole American and his family. He was clearly rich judging by his mega expensive watch and brand name *everything* and all the posh gadgets his kids had. But he was the sort who thought being rich meant he should get more privileges than the rest of us and was forever shouting at someone about his “rights” such as they were the last people to get on the coach and the best seats were taken. He got really shirty with the sweet lady tour guide about how they should get better seats because they had paid good money to go on this tour. Um…hello…we’ve paid good money to go on the tour as well. Then he started handing out sandwiches to his kids despite the clear “no food on the bus” policy because rules don’t apply to him, right?
|look at all those hand made labels|
But we got there and despite Mr Dickhead we had a smashing time! Just to see sets up close like Snape’s Potions classroom --and the effort that the props department went to in collecting all those old glass bottles and making all the labels by hand, distressing them to make them look old and sticking them on. That was the theme of most of it--the gorgeous props that were distressed and made to look hundreds of years old. There were these fantastic frescos in the great hall that had been distressed to make them look thousands of years old--so faint you could hardly see them. I’m not sure I ever saw them on the films. That was another theme--so many wonderful pieces of set dressing that were hardly noticeable in the films. Cabinets full of interesting gizmos and antique jars or brass doodads…just seen in passing in the film but really made the sets feel true to life. Like in Dumbledore’s office.
|all the books were phone books with a fake leather cover|
Think of the Room of Requirement when Draco Malfoy was fixing up the vanishing cabinet--all those props--hundreds…thousands of props--so many seen and so many unseen. I thought it must have been amazing to be a set dresser on these films!
There were also costumes to look at--there were 4 identical sets of clothes for Harry--each one more distressed than the last. The first one--spotless. The last one--tattered. There were interactive bits (which I love--I am a born lever puller) where you could make the items in The Burrow—home of the Weasleys work by magic e.g. the iron to press the clothes, the knitting needles to make the jumper, the knife to cut carrots etc.
There was also a very informative set of videos about the green screen technology and how it worked for things like flying on broomsticks, Quiddich, Hagrid’s flying motorbike etc. There was also a bit of green screen technology where you could ride on a broomstick and they would put in a sky behind you and make you look like you were flying--but it was getting late and we still had much to see. Besides it was expensive and I’ve already said how I feel about spending money on myself.
|he wasn't really flying -it was all mechanical|
You also got a cool tour of the creature shop and the out door sets like Diagon Alley.
|there were railings so you couldn't peep into shop windows|
In the creature shop we were *thrilled* to see Aragog--Hagrid’s giant pet spider. Interestingly, it was a true spider not a tarantula (true spider’s fangs work like pincers side-to-side but tarantula’s fangs work up-and-down. FACT) Plus it was clearly a male as it had swollen palps to carry his sperm in (but no tibial hooks to hold a female back when mating--but not all species have them)
|we tell the girls if you eat up all your crickets you'll grow big and strong like Aragog|
It was thrilling to see stuff you recognised and amazing to see stuff up close you never noticed in the film. It must have been a blast to work on the film.
Lastly we were perusing the gift shop (cue angelic music) and saw these gorgeous sterling silver spider earrings made by The Noble Collection. They are replicas of ones worn by Narcissa Malfoy.
|aren't they beautiful?|
Oh my heart ached when I saw them--they were classy and elegant, but also looked like spiders! But they were wicked expensive. I didn’t dare dream of getting them as I had just spent £80 on Tallulah the uke the day before. Spiderman called over the sales girl and asked to open the case. I looked at them up close and he said:
Him: Would you wear them?
Me: Yes but…
Hime: Would you wear them?
Me: Yes, every day, but…
Him: Don’t make a man ask three times or he’ll change his mind.
And with that he got in the queue and purchased them for me. I *never* wear expensive jewellery. We often joke that he better not ever waste money on a diamond ring or other nonsense. But these are stunning. While he was queuing, I was chatting up the salesgirl who had screamed just a little when she saw his spider belt buckle. Then another sales girl joined in and then another and they were asking spider questions and I was telling them about the girls. You could tell they thought we were weird but interesting.
Then we hopped back on the coach--Mr Dickhead and family were seen to get on another one--I’m sure he wasn’t supposed to, but he probably argued his way onto it so we had a peaceful ride back.
So that was Saturday of the magical holiday. Stay tuned for Sunday’s adventure which includes an eighth addition to the Spider clan.