The Most Magical Day of My Life
"The stories we love best do live in us forever. So whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” J.K. Rowling
For over half my life, the Harry Potter series has been more than just a silly obsession.
I continually find comfort within the pages of the seven books, I am always captivated by each of the eight films, and I routinely return to both in order to combat my worst days, or to compliment my best.
For me, the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London was the closest I could ever come to living inside of my most fantastic dream.
After arriving at Watford Junction, the train station closest to the studios, a double-decker bus with a Harry Potter paint job picked me up along with 40 other strangers. We were on our way to the studios, only ten minutes away. I could already feel a swell of excitement and emotion pulsing through me.
When we pulled into the lot and I saw stages J and K, I couldn’t control my wide eyes and childish grin. Despite being by myself amongst a sea of families and friend groups, I didn’t care that I was alone. I knew I would be comfortable in a place that had felt like home for years.
I was finally going to see where and how the magic of Harry Potter was produced.
The theme music filled my ears and aroused all of my senses, as I walked inside the building with tickets in hand. I collected my digital guide and Hogwarts Passport (technically for children), and I was prepared to begin the four hour self-guided tour. I was not prepared for how amazing it would be.
After a short video of Dan, Emma, and Rupert talking about the people involved in making the films, we were ushered through a massive wooden door and into the Great Hall. My jaw dropped; a soon to be common occurrence throughout the tour.
I couldn’t believe the size, the detail, and how real it felt. Even the floor was made with actual stone. I began to realize how much time, planning, creativity, and work goes into making a film in it’s entirety.
For example — the sets. Sets need to be designed, constructed, then decorated. Sets need props. Props can take months to search for, days to tweak, and hours to place in a scene. But even before all of that, there needs to be a concept of that set, of those props, and of the scene!
The tour does a great job of showcasing the meticulous planning process in all aspects of the films. From pre-production, to set design, to hair and make up, to musical composition, to costumes, all the way to visual effects, CGI and post production. I was awestruck by the amount of art involved with film making.
My digital guide provided further information and detail through short videos, photo galleries, and audio snippets. There was even a section dedicated to the animals in the films—how long they took to train, how effects were added to them, and how many of them there were throughout the years.
I came close to tears while I marveled at each set, ranging from the very first scene in the cupboard under the stairs to the very last at platform 9 3/4. I admired the detail in each of them and took an embarrassing amount of photographs.
The only downside of going alone was having to take selfies, or awkwardly asking the workers to take photos of me…
For a person like me who is equally entranced by film making in general, this day could not get any better. Until it did.
I savored the Butterbeer, hopped aboard the Knight Bus and the Hogwarts Express, knocked on the Dursley’s door, crossed over the Hogwart’s Bridge, took a ride in the Weasley’s flying car, gasped at the sight of Aaragog hanging above me, mourned over Dobby’s corpse, paraded through Diagon Alley, and froze when I saw the Hogwarts castle.
To any Harry Potter fan visiting London, the studio tour must not be missed! You will laugh, you will cry, you will smile, you will be captivated all over again...and you will spend obscene amounts of money in the gift shop. But you'll know it's worth it.
The studio tour experience may have given me the best day of my life, and surely the most magical.
So yes... years from now when people ask me if I am still obsessed with Harry Potter, I will always respond with “Always.”