Though I was almost vomiting with excitement as we pulled up into the extremely orderly car park – I’ll be honest with you, I was slightly concerned that this might be a little light on detail and big on experience.
Spoiler time…How wrong was I!
I love Harry Potter and I’ve loved it from the very first book I read back in August 2000. From that point on, pretty much every July until that horrid day 21 July 2007, when I and billions of others, became upsettingly aware that it was over. For, I’d looked forward to our summers and I couldn’t wait to hear about my other life at Hogwarts.
Thankfully, my upset found solace in the understanding that the films needed to catch-up and though I couldn’t continue to play Dobbie (badly) and mispronounce Professor McGonagall’s name (shortened to Professor MacGee) at books at bedtime in our household, the anticipation and thorough enjoyment I’d secure from the films was real and I could continue to embrace it for a further four years.
Hence, finding myself at 4.00pm yesterday, armed with a small chap (not even for cover – he loves it too!) grinning, being overly polite to the staff as we lined up to enter The Making of Harry Potter.
Oh gosh the whole thing is good. From the smiley car park fellows – to the ultra-clean facilities. Even the staff, throughout the whole tour, are visibly pleased to have secured their spot in The Making.
I’m trying to come up with ‘The Best’, but there are too many contenders. I was pleased to discover this wasn’t a theme park, this was a welcomed and wonderfully enlightening lesson in which components can be utilised skilfully to produce a great movie(s).
Yes I entered the Great Hall; saw the Gryffindor Common Room; spent a while in Potions; feasted my eyes in Dumbledore’s study; felt shock and awe peering through Dolores Umbridge’s quarters; marvelled at sections of the Ministry of Magic; supressed a squeal during my mini inspection of the wardrobe and hair zone; was blown away by the craftsmanship and detailing of the props + sets. Though maybe my favourite bit was the Portrait Zone, or was it the realisation, that if you were a graphic artist – and obviously a pretty good one – how wonderful coming to work would be.
Then, we headed outside (the area between the two inside areas), where you’ll find the Knight Bus; number 4 Privet Drive (and its neighbour); a plastic cup full of Butterbeer (only £2.95); the home of Harry before He who must not be named, took out his loving parents; and approximately eight HUGE chess pieces – before…another super destination. Creature Store.
This area deserves a paragraph of its own. The talent, the detail, the brains, the capabilities of the people who work in this area, just astounds. Not only are you provided with an excellent video commentary if you so choose to listen to it – you can really start to get your head around the amount of work and effort that goes on prior to ‘Action!’. You’ll know the masks, for you’ve been to Gringott’s, you can make a Mandrake wail without the ear-ache, you can start to appreciate just how complicated and impressive the end product of a werewolf was (is). Aragog is there, the background of how you make a dragon breath fire is there, even an 82% version of Professor Dumbledore is there.
Then you take a further corner and more. The architectural designs, conceptual artworks and the mini models of pretty much each building, or set, you’ve ever had the magical opportunity of experiencing is there.
Further too, everyone’s happy. Even teenagers are happy here. The infectious pleasure of Harry Potter envelopes you.
And oh…the SHOP. I had to fight my credit card off, as it so desperately fought to purchase a copy of the exquisite gown that the stunning Miss Hermione Granger wore at the Yule Ball.
Additionally, there are chocolate frogs, ear wax jelly beans, robes, school jumpers, snitch bracelets, owls, wands, beanies and so much more…So be very careful here, though don’t say I didn’t warn you.
I loved Harry before, now I love Harry even more.