Day 6: London

Today was the reason we came to London for our honeymoon. Today we went to the WB Harry Potter studio tour. The morning started early – we had to be at the Golden Tours Victoria office no later than 7:45 am to board a giant HP branded bus that would take us to the studio which is about 20 miles outside of the city.

This tour literally attracts everyone from around the world – from the U.S. to Japan to Germany to Russia and more.

The tour is… amazing. It opens up to the Great Hall set, and you are transported to a magical world – literally. We only had three hours to walk through all of it, but I could have easily spent more time. Both James and I bought the audio tour and were guided by Tom Felton (Draco) throughout. Since it would be ridiculous and lengthy to highlight each of the sets, I’ll stick with favorites. I loved the potions classroom – while simple in structural design, there were more than 500 bottles (and more than 1,000 when used in the movies) each hand labeled and filled with baked bones, rubber animals transformed into something that doesn’t exist in the Muggle world and more. Dumbledore’s office was amazing and finally we were offered an opportunity to get up close and personal with his instruments on display. All the books you see in there? Phone books! And finally, I loved the creature shop, where we learned how they made the creepy fetus Voldemort, Gringott goblins, dragons, Greyback and more.

Harry’s bedroom under the stairs.

The Great Hall. In the first movie, the director was set on having ONLY real food portrayed. And so it was. In later movies, the props department made lifelike goodies alongside some real dishes.

More Great Hall at the head table, where professors sat.

Count house points anyone?

Makeup! Did you know that the scar was drawn on Daniel Radcliffe more than 6,000 times in the shooting of the eight movies?  It also had to be drawn on his stunt double – that’s when he didn’t person his own stunts.

Boys dorm (and Ron’s bed in the front). This is the oldest set and was used throughout the first six movies. The beds were originally built to fit 10 and 11 year old boys. By the time they were 17 and 18, they no longer fit the 5’9″ bed frame and had to curl up or let their feet hang over for scenes filmed here.

Horcruxes. The woman who designed these spent months researching heirlooms from areas of the world these would have come from. How is that for authentic?

Gryffindor common room. The staircases to the dormitories were marked Girls and Boys above the arch to help the actors go in the correct direction.

Any letter that was close enough for the camera to see had to be handwritten. A few thousand were printed (think to the very first movie when Harry receives all of his letters from Hogwarts). The original letter was also too heavy for their owl actors to carry, so they also created a “letter lite” version for the birds.

On the Knight bus! The bus actually drove through the streets of London and routes had to be planned to accommodate its triple decker length.

Our first butterbeer! Neither James nor I could tell you what this tasted like. I had expected something like cream soda but it’s not. It is creamy though, and at points sweet and salty. It’s bubbly and not quite caramel flavored.

Diagon Alley!

The end of the tour spits you out to a 1:24 model of Hogwarts which was used in every movie but the last (CGI had improved to a point where it was no longer needed). Every time J.K. Rowling revealed a new part of the castle, model makers spent three months updating the structure to accommodate new sections such as the owlery, the astronomy tower and the bridge.

Highlight of the trip? So far! We also got suckered into the gift shop and each purchased ourselves a giant mug of the Maurader’s Map (because the one I bought at the Museum of Science exhibition is finally starting to fall apart), as well as plenty of candy from Honeydukes.

Afterwards, James and I came back to the flat and went for another three mile run (this time in the opposite direction) to explore the neighborhood. We passed the Chelsea soccer stadium, ran by shops and discovered the one ice cream place in all of Fulham (this may be an exaggeration but this has not been an easy thing to find): Scoops!

When we returned from the run, we headed over to Whole Foods to pick up some scallops for dinner. But they closed at five. So we went to another grocery store. It also closed at five. Everything here closes at five on Sunday. I would be screwed in the states as often times we don’t get to the grocery until later afternoon/early evening on Sundays! We returned and beefed up our leftovers from yesterday with the addition of some sautéed vegetables. We spent the rest of the evening watching movies and TV, and hit the hay early.

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