Adventures in London: The Boy Who Lived Under the Stairs

Wow is all I have to say about today. Today is by far one of my favorite days of the trip and I’m not even that big of a Harry Potter fan. I’ve read a few books and seen some of the movies so I don’t consider myself that big of a fan but being on the studio lot where the filming took place was so cool.

I’m really into movies and kind of geek out over the process and seeing the behind the scenes aspect of everything. Our day started pretty early because of the drive to get to the studio. We were up and boarded the bus by 8:10 am so we could have plenty of time to get to the studio and spend our day on the lots.

You first start out with seeing the smallest set of the entire film franchise: the staircase in the Dursely’s house that Harry lived under. You’re then directed into a room where they tell you when you can and cannot take photos. They also introduce how the idea for the films started. You’re then transported into a cinema room where you watch Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint tell you about what it was like to be on set for the franchise.

The last guided part of the tour was into the Great Hall. Everything that was shown to us in the hall was from the actual set. We got to go when they were celebrating Christmas so part of the set for the Yule Ball was also set up, which was really exciting to see. Hogwarts and other things were also decorated with snow as you went throughout the studios.

The Great Hall in the Harry Potter Studio

Once you listened to facts about the hall, the staff sent you into the warehouses where information about different aspects of the film were described. They left nothing untouched.

There were displays over costumes, the people behind the screen, props, wardrobe, etc… Basically if it had to do with the movie, there was probably a display about it. The studios also had specific sets pulled to show us. We got to see the Gryffindor Common Room as well as Dumbledore’s Office. They showed us the Malfoy residence and Hagrid’s Hut. All of these had different facts about how the set was created.

Did you know that the books on Dumbledore’s shelves were phone books that were later covered to look like old books?

There were also facts about how sets changed over time and how long it took to make them because some of the sets were very elaborate.  The first half of the tour was more about the film and how it was made. You then had an opportunity for lunch, which of course included butterbeer. Then the second half of the tour was all about what people did behind the scenes.

This included makeup, animal buildings, graphics and things of that nature. It was much smaller but still really cool to look at because it shows you just how much work went into the franchise.

The final room of the tour is the massive display of the Hogwarts castle. This display was used when shooting closeup scenes of the building and then a background was later added from the green screen. It was honestly so cool to see and it’s really hard to describe in words becasue it’s one of those things that you have to look at for yourself.

You end the tour in a gift shop like you would most tours. I only got a Slytherin key chain to add to my key chain collection. It was cool to see the things they had because some of the souvenirs I hadn’t seen in other places.

We boarded the bus and headed back to our hotel at 3 pm which left the afternoon for us to figure out something to do.

A group of us decided to do a Jack the Ripper walking tour after dinner so we got to explore part of East London that we hadn’t yet seen. I didn’t really know much about Jack the Ripper before the tour but I think learning stuff about serial killers is interesting. This one is especially interesting because they still don’t know who Jack the Ripper is.

One of the locations on the Jack the Ripper tour

Our tour guide had been doing tours for 16 years and has been researching the murders for 30. She was very into everything she was presenting and I thought the tour was very well done and informative. It made me want to try to figure out who the killer is.

Tomorrow is going to be another exciting day because we’re spending part of the day in Ashdown Forest which is the setting of Winnie the Pooh. I am very excited to see this area as Winnie the Pooh is one of my favorite children’s books.

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