Just before Christmas, Boo and I met up at the Harry Potter Studios for a special event. Hogwarts in the Snow!
Call us big kids, but we just couldn’t resist an evening of Potter related fun, with added festive touches AND snow.
And we were not disappointed!
If you read my blog regularly, you will know that the Husband and Little Chick went to Hogwarts in August so the place should be very familiar. However, quite a lot of it wasn’t. The reason behind this, was that it had been moved around a bit, and new displays brought out. Oh and lots of baubles and trees and even a sneaky bit of Mistletoe.
The event was actually purchased through Groupon, who had bought out the Studio for the night. Included in our ticket price was a large souvenir book, a light snack, drink and a collectible flagon of Butterbeer. We had been warned that there may be a few special extras in store too….
We donned our finest Harry Potter influenced clothing. I was a Hufflepuff Student, Boo a Ravenclaw and we joined a large group of fans for our slot at 5.30pm eagerly waiting to enter the Magical World.
So, we entered the Great Hall and what a sight to behold!
Christmas Dinner was all laid out on the huge tables, Turkey, Ham, Potatoes, Christmas Puds; you name it, it was there. We were told that all the food was fake, apart from one thing. We were challenged to guess which item is was. It was harder than you think, as it all looked so realistic.
At the end of the Great Hall was a magical invisible orchestra, conducted by Professor Flitwick. All of the instruments were silver and exactly like real instruments.
To one side was a beautiful glass domed palace. Surrounded by hundreds of glass bottles with coloured liquid in them. This was originally used for the Yule Ball in the film and was just so beautiful.
We took all the photographs that we could, then moved into the first part of the tour. So much had changed, even in four months so it was lovely to see new exhibits and displays. There was even some special demonstrations where crew members showed how they made the different kinds of snow used on set. It was fascinating!
One of the great things about the Studio is that you wander around at your own pace, reading all the display information, looking at everything that is on display. There isn’t any rush to move from one place to another which is just fantastic.
Eventually we ended up near one of the newest sections, The Forbidden Forest. Now I had been through this is August, but it was a first for Boo. I have to admit to not liking it any more the second time around, but you really can’t miss it out, simply for the effects used.
We entered the Forest like we were walking onto a yacht. Then we felt the spongy bouncy floor and then the thunder and lightening started.
Walking a little more gingerly, we came across Buckbeak the Hippogriff and of course, being a proud creature we had to bow to him. Thankfully he accepted our genuflection and didn’t attack!
One of the surprises of the evening was a Death Eater wandering amongst us Muggles. To be honest, even though I know it isn’t real, the mask was quite malevolent, and as she was totally silent whilst giving you a death stare, it was quite disconcerting. Either way, we had to get some photographs with her for posterity and she was quite gracious about it; if you can call threatening us with a wand as gracious.
Walking through the displays, we walked into the next section, which again was new to Boo; The Hogwarts Express.
A full sized red Steam train. In the middle of a building. It really is a sight to behold. Everything gleams and shines, and you can even walk inside looking into the same carriages that were used on the film. There is even a fully stocked Honeydukes sweet trolley. It simply is spectacular.
Of course, there are the Luggage trollies embedded in the wall of Platform 9 3/4 and you just can’t go past without having a photograph with them.
We were now half way round the Studios and got to the Backlot Cafe. This is where we were able to get a snack and drink (included in the price) before continuing around the displays.
Boo went for the Pasta and Fanta, I had a hot dog and a beer. We also got our special flagons of Butterbeer. It was nice to sit down for 20 minutes before continuing on. The hot dog was pretty good, and so was the beer that went with it! The Butterbeer, well let’s just say I would happily give that one a miss.
The next part of the tour is outside. Privet Drive, The Knight bus and more.
Sadly, we had gone for fashion over comfort in order to show off our amazing Hogwarts fashions. This necessitated leaving our coats in the car. And it was the middle of December. And freezing!
Sad to say, we didn’t spend any more time outside than we needed to. Even so, we went into the next section shivering. It literally was that cold.
The next part of the tour was one of my favourites. The area where you can see how the special effects are designed and made, how the buildings are constructed and lots of prosthetics.
There are interactive displays with this such as the Voldemort “puppet” by pressing buttons the mannequin and breathes. It really is very freaky and actually looks as if it is a real live creatures. It really gives me the shivers.
One of funniest displays is the Mandrake plants, which pops out of its pot and starts squealing, like it does in the film. Just Brilliant!
The next section of the studio is the fantastic Diagon Alley. For most people, seeing the shops and the contents is the best part. For me, it is actually the huge display of hats and headwear, all designed by Philip Treacy. I STILL need one of those Beauxbatons hats!
One of the new displays is the footprints in the snow which shows you the technical contraption that was designed to make footprints without disturbing any other snow. Genius!
We wandered through Diagon Alley before moving into a display that appeals to the technical lover of the films.
Moving along you start to notice paintings and sketches on the walls. Again these are made with the intention of seeing how a scene will look and how the characters need to be directed in order to convey what JK Rowling was describing.
These were done by many artists and you can see which ones were taken through to final production.
My favourite is Dobby as it portrays him perfectly.
Models made to scale are all on display. Made from paper, cardboard and wood, items are designed on paper first, then made into the scale models so the look can be seen and tweaked if needed, before they are built.
Some of the exhibits on display include The prefects bathroom, the owlery and the galleon that the Durmstrang visitors arrived in.
They are miniature works of art in themselves and they absolute fascinate me.
All too soon we were at the end of the tour. The piece de resistance. The scale model of Hogwarts Castle in the snow.
There simply isn’t a lot I can say about it apart from it is huge AND amazing.
I will let the photographs do the talking.
There was only one thing left to visit and that was the shop. Now, this is a sight in its own right. There are more products in there than I have ever seen. I literally could have spent a fortune! Of course we had to have photographs holding our favourite wands.
We spent a good 40 minutes wandering around, deciding what we wanted.
Of course I had to get a couple of bits for Little Chicks Christmas presents which I know she will love.
As for me, I got a fabulous Hufflepuff badge which was too cute to resist.
Sadly it was now time to leave, so with a few last minute photographs together, we gave hugs and went our separate ways.
Well…… Until our next adventure together!!