Saturday, March 7, 2015

The day started with about an hour drive to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour of Harry Potter. The entrance was gated and the studio right in front of our eyes. We quickly left the bus and walked to the restaurant to have lunch, after all 28 of us ordered food we sat down and ate but it was evident that we all wanted to rush into the tour. After eating we lined up to enter a main room of introduction where we saw Harry’s bed under the staircase of the Dursley’s home. Yes, his little toy soldiers were there. Once in the room, a member of the crew introduced us to the world of Harry Potter by playing a video about the books and how they changed the life of so many including all of ours. He also informed us that every country was able to pick which poster they wanted to use to advertise the movies, as you can predict, different countries picked different images. A roll call of the people in the room was taken and he asked “who has traveled the furthest to see the world of Harry Potter?” Some people came from Taiwan, others from Chile and then it was us, the loud Americans who cheered as he said the US. Then we moved to a room in which we took a seat and the famous trio greeted us from a screen. They informed us about a world that we were unaware of, the people behind the scenes of the movies who were also pivotal for the creation of the magic of the movies. Additionally, they told us that it was in that studio that they attended school, celebrate birthdays and basically spent the majority of their time. Dan was 10, Rupert was 12, and Emma was going to turn 9. The cast then opened the door to the Great Hall of Hogwarts. But it was actually Kat who opened the doors, this Great Hall was used for all the films except the first one where they used Christ Church in Oxford. In the room we saw Harry first costume, it was tiny and brought back tons of memories from when Harry was first welcomed to Hogwarts. The Hall was grand, just like I had imagined it and we were actually stepping the steps of the cast, ahhhhhh! After the Great Hall followed many many sets ranging from Dumbledore’s office, to the Gates of Hogwarts, to the Gryffindor common room, to the potions classroom, to the costumes from the Yule Ball. There were so many things to see that it would have actually taken me 9 hours to pay attention and read everything like the tour guide had mentioned before we began. Some of my favorite things were the doors, for example the door to the Chamber of Secrets was created by the HP team and it actually worked like we saw in the movies although many believe it was created by computers! The door was created by the Special Effects Department who managed to let the snakes slither long slotted tracks which are powered by an electronic motion hidden behind the door. Another one of my favorite sets was Hagrid’s Hut which looked just like the movies and there was actually another hut built in smaller dimensions so that Robbie Coltrane could look even bigger. One of the most memorable walks was the one through the small table that held Harry’s only letter of acceptance into Hogwarts, this is a one of a kind letter and has no replicas that were used for the movies, how amazing, I was so close to the letter! Additionally, I loved that the studio included the display on birds and animals which let us know about the crew of trainers and dog walkers that spent their time training more than 250 animal actors which included Hedwig, Crookshanks, Mrs.Norris, Scabbers, Fang and even one pygmy hippopotamus. But the exit of the studio tour into the great giftshop was just amazing with the great display of ALL of Hogwarts which gave me chills as I saw it. It was used for actual filming and then manipulated in computers, the details were incredible and the makers of the castle did not miss a thing! I absolutely loved every part of the tour, thank you to all those that made the movies possible and brought one of my favorite stories to life! Best, Melissa DLT

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