Last year, on September the 14th, I could finally fulfil one of my biggest dreams: visit the Harry Potter Studios and gift myself with some more magic in my almost adult years.
To be honest, Harry Potter hasn’t been part of my life ever since forever, as much as it did with many of the ex-children of my same age. As a matter of fact, even though I knew about the existence of this magic world from the age of 6, when my father introduced me to the very first movie, I had never been caught by any kind of impetus strong enough to lead me read the books, nor to continue watching the following movies. I simply was interested in other stories, and Harry Potter had to wait years before completely enchanting me.
But, eventually, I ended up being a victim of the compelling charm of JK Rowling’s magic world, at the age of 14.
I wandered in it almost by chance, it was one of the most fortunate casualties I have ever experienced. Needless to emphasise how life-changing the reading can be, I would just be repeating feelings that people have been sharing on the internet for years.
For this reason, in this blog post, I will limit myself to simply sharing some pictures I have taken during my magic tour at the Harry Potter Studios, together with a few thoughts derivated from my personal experience.
It’s not easy to talk about this place, both for the emotional value which is not always easy to express through words, and the fear to sound repetitive, hence there are thousands of similar publications on the matter. However, after one year from my visit, I eventually chose to share my experience in my small corner on the internet, in the hope to help you relive the emotion of the tour or inspire your next trip without spoiling you too much of it.
Enough prattle, it’s time to go into the core of the article!
“Dursley, of number four Privet Drive, were proud to say that they were perfectly normal, thank you very much“
There couldn’t be a better start of the tour.
While waiting in line in order to show your ticket and finally enter in the magic world perfectly crafted my JK Rowling, take a look at your left: you will find one of the most iconic symbols of Harry Potter’s world.
As a matter of fact, you will finally have the chance to give a close look to the Cupboard Under The Stairs, where the poor Harry was forced to sleep, surrounded by droves of spiders and heaps of dust.
“It was hard to believe there was a ceiling there at all, and that the Great Hall didn’t simply open on to the heaven“
After one short introduction, of which I will say nothing about in order not to spoil the surprise you will hopefully be able to experience as well, the tour properly starts with the opening of the Great Hall’s door.
A very stunning moment, that finally made me realise that my dream had come true. If until a few moments before I still felt indifferent to the place I was about to visit, once I could step in the Great Wall and be overwhelmed by its grandeur, I finally realised I was about to experience for myself the magic of Harry Potter’s movies. This was the first defining moment of the Harry Potter Studios.
Moreover, looking standing at the back a group of mannequins wearing the teacher’s costume was even more scenic: it felt like I was invited by the Hogwarts’ professors themselves to make my way to the castle, in the same manner they had welcomed Harry Potter and his fellows on the first school day.
“Or yet in wise old Ravenclaw,
If you’ve a ready mind,
Where those of wit and learning,
Will always find their kind.“
And being myself a proud Ravenclaw, I couldn’t help but take any photo I could of the dedicated table.
“And keep an eye on the staircases. They like to change“
They didn’t like to change at the Harry Potter Studios though, but we can forgive it.
“Our dormitories are reached by climbing the winding mahogany staircase, decorated with crimson and gold“
As soon as my sight reached the area dedicated to Gryffindor’s dormitories, I immediately felt that peculiar feeling of warmth and comfort that I have always associated with those special rooms. And every special detail of the setting was simply beautiful: it was in that exact moment when I finally realised how magical is the work behind the scenes, and how great are the people behind this “human” magic.
“One thing was certain: of all the teachers’ offices Harry had visited so far this year, Dumbledore’s was by far the most interesting“
And I couldn’t agree more with Harry: Dumbledore’s office truly is one of the most impressive scenographies ever created in the movie saga. If only I could enter and flip through the hundreds of books so perfectly displayed on those bookshelves… Or even have a simple talk with the headmaster, I am easily contented.
“A cobblestoned shopping area for the wizarding world, where Hogwarts students can purchase necessary supplies.“
One of the most anticipated sections of the tour, at least for me.
I remember I spent most of my previous time at the studios asking myself when I would finally take a stroll around Diagon Alley’s shop, and I can’t deny the huge excitement I was overwhelmed by once I eventually stepped in it.
It was unbelievably nice to snoop around the shopping windows and discover every single object displayed, as well as look up at the stunning Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and could only wish for the chance to step in the shop and have a taste for the oddity of the twins’ incredible genius.
“Platform nine and three-quarters is the train platform from which students board the Hogwarts Express,
the scarlet steam engine that brings students to and from Hogwarts. It can be accessed by walking straight through the apparently solid barrier between platforms nine and ten.”
Definitely one of the most exciting sections of the tour, which would make any visitor wow at the grandeur of the Hogwarts Express. But, what I personally preferred, was the chance to take the photo at the station’s wall, pretending to cross it to reach Platform 9¾.
Compared to the photo spot in King’s Cross station, here you have much more time at your disposal to take your favourite snap, without any kind of pressure nor time limitations indicated by the staff. Plus, there is no proper queue (everything will depend on the visitors’ flow), so you can just re-take the photo without wasting much time!
And obviously, another all-time favourite is the chance to board on the Hogwarts Express for a quick look at its carriages, which was one of my dreams ever since I first watched the first Harry Potter’s movie at the age of six. For this reason, once I reached the instalment dedicated to the first meeting between Harry and Ron, my heart starting racing and I was caught by a strong desire to jump on the cabin and join the two puppets in the admiral of that myriad of candies.
A strong feeling of nostalgia reached its highest peak at the view of this instalment, and it was the first time during the visit that I deeply desired to go back to my childhood years and be able to live that moment as if it was real, through the powerful means of imagination.
“How come the Muggles don’t hear the bus?”
Once invited to continue the tour in the courtyard, your sight will be immediately caught by the massive Knight Bus, standing out thanks to its lively purple colour. Unfortunately, it is not possible to enter in the vehicle but just to take a glance at the interior through a tiny window, but at least I could pose on the tail section and get a nice souvenir picture.
“Colours like peach and salmon pink are distinctly un-magical, and therefore much favoured by the likes of Aunt Petunia“
This is how JK Rowling described the interiors of 4 Privet Drive, the house where the poor Harry had to live 11 years of his life.
To be honest, despite the general dislike that any fan feels towards the household – mainly due to what Harry had to go through, I was genuinely impatient to finally take a glance at the living room where magic finally had its first appearance. And I was not disappointed by it: I loved the setting of the room, and it perfectly made me relive the scene of the movie.
“The wand chooses the wizard, Mr. Potter“
Ollivander’s shop couldn’t possibly be missing, and this dedicated section of the tour is ultimately one of my favourites.
I’m not sure what’s the reason why I was so fascinated by those shelves full of wand’s boxes, but on hindsight, I might thank the lights and instalments which definitely helped the magical atmosphere. As a matter of fact, if at the other sections of the tour I could perfectly notice the skeleton of the settings, which sadly broke the magic which was intended to stage, Ollivander’s shop was perfectly reconstructed, hiding every human touch.
This way, I completely felt overwhelmed by those shelves, and I spent entire minutes reading the labels of the stacked boxes, feeling like a future Hogwarts’ student waiting to find my own magic wand.
Fun fact: the wand that Pottermore site selected for me is a beech wood with a Dragon heartstring core 12″ and Reasonably Supple flexibility.
“The castle is a stronghold of ancient magic.”
And it may have been on paper and on the screen, but once you finally see Hogwarts in front of you, you sadly realize there actually is no magic in anything you have seen so far.
The only magic you experience is the great talent of the scenographers who worked to make Rowling’s world become reality through the cameras, but every detail, which once satisfied your need for magic and secret desire to believe in the actual existence of Harry Potter’s world, brutally vanishes at the moment when you finally see the Hogwarts’ model.
You knew it had never existed, you knew it was a castle realized with human and banal cinematic means, but before standing in front of the diorama used during the filming, you would have continued believing that Hogwarts is actually true, and stately standing somewhere in the world.
For this reason, as soon I went through to the final part of the tour, I was caught by a profound sadness. It wasn’t due to the ending of the visit, but to the final awakening to the non-existence of that castle I had been dreaming of for years. And that bitter discovery gave me further proof of my entrance in adult’s world because, if I still were a child, I would have never let the rational mind win over that dreamy imagination I once used to rely upon.