Harry Potter!

This past Monday, we spent the day at the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour just outside London!  Mike and I had been planning on going to it but hadn’t told the kids. 🙂 We didn’t think about tickets being a problem, so several days beforehand, we went to buy tickets online and found they were sold out — until January!

Given the fact that one of our reasons for staying in Wendover was because it was going to be relatively close to both the Roald Dahl Museum and Harry Potter, we were surprised and disappointed.  We were happy we hadn’t mentioned anything to the kids, though, and we knew there would be plenty of other things to do and see.  For fun and out of curiosity, Mike looked on the web site again the next day and found several tickets available for Monday and that was it (again until January).  A tour group or something must have cancelled, so we quickly bought the tickets!

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The tour is a chance to visit the actual sets and see the actual costumes and props used in the filming of all 8 movies!  In addition, there’s great information about special effects, hair and makeup, and general information about what it took to the make the movies.  It was a great tour, and we all enjoyed it!  After we got back, we found a fun quiz on Harry Potter trivia and a wizard name-maker.  http://www.harrypotter.bloomsbury.com/uk/fun-stuff/harry-potter-trivia-challenge/

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Below are each of our thoughts about the day.

L’s thoughts:

I didn’t know that Hagrid’s head was fake, that most of the backgrounds were special effects, using green screens, that the houses were made out of fiberglass and were hollow, or that the first time they filmed dementors they did it under water.  We got to fly on brooms in front of green screens, and they did the special effects to make it look like we were flying through London, over the water, above the castle, and above the train tracks. Mommy, Daddy, G, and I took a picture that makes it look like we were wanted wizards.

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For a snack, we got a couple pints of butter beer.  They put foam on top to make it look like beer.  The foam had little marshmallows in it and was sweet and the beer tasted like butterscotch!  There was a part where there was a screen that when you waved your hand over it, it made things move, like an iron ironing a dress, a penguin skating around on a cake, a knife chopping carrots, and a brush scrubbing a pan.  

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My favorite parts were the special effects stuff with the green screens, the masks and animatronics, and sitting in a train compartment set, where they made dementors come up and look in the window, while an assistant director told us how to react.  They couldn’t film the train scenes in real train compartments because they are too small, so they used sets, like the one we sat in, to film those scenes.  I really like how they used real people from the crew to do the portraits that hung all over Hogwarts, and they used 4,000 actual names of the people who helped make the movie on the labels of the wand boxes.

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Wizard Name: Livius Diggle

Harry Potter Books Read: 1-7 (read Book 1 four times, Book 2 three times, and is currently reading book 7 again.  He is #84 on the waiting list at the library for Book 8.)

Harry Potter Movies Seen: 1-4 (Mommy and Daddy are debating on whether 5 through 7 are too much…)

G’s thoughts:

Harry Potter Studios was so cool!  I learned so much stuff about how they made a lot of things. One of the things was how the actor that played “Hagrid” wasn’t even the actor for some of the parts.  Robbie Coltrane was only 6’2″, but there was a rugby player who was 6’10”, so they used the rugby player for some of the scenes.  The rugby player still wasn’t tall enough, soooo they had him wear a huge mechanical head that looked like Robbie Coltrane that had poles attached to it, so that it was higher and then added pads to the rugby player to make him look bigger and added stilts to his shoes, so he was even taller!

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Another cool thing was that most of the scenes, like when Harry was on the broom stick or when there are mountains in the background, were actually filmed with a green screen and the background was added later.  In the quidditch section of the tour, there was a broom attached to a wooden stick in the wall, so when you said “up,” the broom would come right up into your hand.  There was also an activity where you could sit on a “broom,” and they filmed you in front of a green screen, so they could add London in the background.  It was really cool.  We got a picture and a USB of the movie, so we can watch it.

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Wizard Name:  Gwenog Dawlish

Harry Potter Books Read: 1-4 (with lots of knowledge gained about other books from talking to L and playing “Harry Potter” with friends on the playground.)

Harry Potter Movies Seen: 1-4 (Mommy and Daddy are debating on whether 5 through 7 are too much…)

Jody’s thoughts:

It was a great tour and very well done!  For the most part, things moved along without too much waiting.  I loved being able to see all the sets and the costumes up close. Standing in the middle of Diagon Alley, standing next to Dobby, and making one of the mandrakes scream were also favorites for me.  🙂  In addition, the green screen technology is really quite amazing.  While I knew that parts were filmed with it, there were other parts of the various movies that I thought were for sure shot on site, but they weren’t!

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The model of Hogwarts, which was used often and in all of the movies is absolutely amazing.  We got to see the architectural drawings of it and the white paper version before walking into the room with the real model of it.  Of course the butter beer snack we had was quite delicious, too!  So glad it worked out for us to get to go!!  We all want to watch the movies again (and the kids want to watch the ones they haven’t seen yet), so we can watch them with a new appreciation.

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Mike’s thoughts:

Oddly enough, even I agree that that it was money well spent. 🙂

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More pictures…

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1 Reply to “Harry Potter!

  1. Hi all! So glad you were able to visit Hogwarts. Looks like there was a lot of really cool stuff, green screen and all! Mommy and daddy, where are your wizard names? By the way, auntie says that five through seven are too much too!

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