Back in July we celebrated the girls’ birthdays with a very Harry Potter themed two night stay in London. It was pretty amazing, so good in fact that I am condensing the highlights of the trip into a one day mini trip with my sister, as my christmas present to myself. I’m so excited about the trip that I thought I would share it with you.
The main event on both trips was/will be the Warner Brothers Studio Tour, a trip behind the scenes of the Harry Potter movie series. If you’re a fan of the series, this really is a must visit. It includes exploring the Great Hall, Dumbledore’s office, Snape’s classroom and the Gryffindor dormitory among others. You also get to walk down Diagon Alley and along Privet Drive, and there are thousands of props and costumes on display including the Knight Bus.
There was so much to see that it filled an entire afternoon and we could easily have spent a bit longer in some of the areas. There was an opportunity to have a photo taken on a broomstick against a green screen, but there was an extra long line for this and it cost extra so we didn’t bother. At almost £30 per person it was expensive enough to take the five of us. I don’t think we’ll bother next week either.
The highlight of the experience for me was seeing the scale model of Hogwarts Castle at the end of the tour. It was used for the exterior shots in the movies and is incredibly detailed. The lighting changes as you walk around the model from daylight to night, and tiny lights inside the castle windows switch on and off. I must have taken 50 photos just of the model. The girls got a bit restless at that point, although they were totally awestruck when they first saw it.
The other Harry Potter event during our trip was a self guided walking tour of the filming locations around the city. We used the wonderful guide from the-magician.co.uk which is free via email. We did find some of the directions slightly bizarre and made a couple of wrong turns, but for the most part it was really good and well detailed. It covers everything from the Ministry of Magic and the interior of Gringotts to the bridges that the characters fly past while travelling through London. The girls particularly enjoyed the tube station where Mr Weasley had trouble understanding his Oyster card.
The walk also took us past some interesting corners of London that we would otherwise never have noticed, including a roman bath house and an ancient ferryman’s stool. Clearly a lot of thought was put into the route and there was something to see every few minutes for most of the walk. The girls persevered for the duration and enjoyed the experience, although it was quite gruelling in the heat.
The walk took us about 4 hours although we were worried about getting it done in time to get back to our car before the parking ran out, so we were marching along quite quickly for most of it. I estimated that it was around 10 miles, plus a couple of tube journeys. We also stopped for a picnic lunch on Westminster bridge. I don’t recommend trying to pick up lunch from the Tesco there, it was incredibly busy and is only a tiny store. It was almost impossible to browse the sandwiches but I did manage to find one that was suitable for vegans, so it worked out in the end.
I have picked out the highlights from the walking tour and condensed it down so that we can fit it into our day trip. I removed a lot of walking across bridges and added some more tube journeys. Hopefully we will be able to see the main sights in two hours, leaving us time to have lunch and get to the studio in time for our tour.
I am really looking forward to my trip next week. It’ll be the first time I’ve seen my sister since last christmas, and the first time we’ve had a day out together without the girls for over three years. It’ll be fantastic to see her, and we’ll have the most amazing, terribly sad and nerdy day ever. I just hope that the weather is good for us!