Dear Miss Gretener,
We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.
Term begins on September 1. We await your owl by no later than July 31.
I’m sure that I’m not the only person that lay awake on the eve of their eleventh birthday just hoping that there may ever so slightly be a chance that Hagrid was about to knock down the door and tell me that I was going to Hogwarts. Unfortunately, like everyone else (or it better be everyone else because if you are all secretly going to Hogwarts without me, I’ll be mad) did not receive that miraculous letter and did not get to go to the castle of magic. I do plead guilty although to dressing up as Hagrid, knocking down my sisters door and reciting the movie when the clock struck midnight on her eleventh birthday – close enough right? Okay, I think it is a good time to say, I am indeed the world’s biggest Harry Potter Fan. Don’t try to tell me any different, I even broke the longest amount of time spent at the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studios – 7 and a half hours, and I would of stayed longer if the staff didn’t have the whole ‘we have to close’ nonsense.
If you are also like me and own four copies of each of the Harry Potter books, because the first three are broken to pieces from being read so many times – I’m sure you would have googled the many ways you can fly into the magical world of Harry Potter; even further than Pottermore! So if you are heading to the U.K anytime soon, don’t forget to check off these Top 10 Harry Potter Location whilst there!
Leavesden, England is home to the biggest film Studio’s in the whole of Europe. Originally used as a local airfield and factory in 1939-1994, the studio was first used for films in 1995. Hangers became sound stages and runways became back lots. Over 100 acres of different terrains has been host to movies such as James Bond: Goldeneye, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace, Longitude, A Ideal Husband, Sleepy Hollow and many more. It wasn’t until 2000 when the Studio became famous all over the world, after a small production team turned up with a film idea that became one of the most successful films series of all time; Harry Potter. The Studio then became the home of Harry Potter team for a decade, during the time in which all eight films were being filmed there. After the final installment of the Harry Potter films, the Studio were then continued to be used for other Warner Brothers films, except for two stages. The J and K (how ironic) stage were then opened to the public to see Harry Potter as they have never seen it before.
The Great Hall doors are open to the public 7 days a week from 10am to 6.30pm. The tour of the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio can either be self-guided, with a guide (maybe the coolest job in the world) or an hand held audio-visual guide (which I highly recommend). This grand tour costs a total of 28EUR (34.30AUD) for adults, 21EUR (25.73AUD) for under 15 years and under 4 year are free. To have Tom Felton whisper secrets in your ear, hire out the hand held audio-visual guide for 4.95EUR (6.06AUD), which also give you access to many never seen videos, photos and behind the scenes information on the Harry Potter series.
If you are excited as I was with that information and already have your wand and cloak packed (legit the first two things I packed on my Fifteen and Flying trip… pffttt who needs a toothbruch or underwear?), there is no denying how excited you will be once you arrive. After officially breaking the world record for longest amount of time spent there, I can guarantee to you it is the Ultimate and best Harry Potter experience out there. Read more about my Harry Potter Warner Bros adventures here! – Be warned it is the length of the Order of the Phoenix book and has the excitement levels of Hermione when she tops a test.
Unfortunately our beautiful castle of Hogwarts does not exist entirely in one location; as seen in the films the castle has quite a large transformation from the first to last film. Below are the majority of the locations used to capture the essence that is Harry Potter; Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Even by visiting only one of the locations below, your Muggle blood starts to fade as you escape into the world of magic.
- Hogwarts Model at Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Hogwarts Castle Model is the jewel of the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour. If at the moment you have a little castle sitting on a table in mind you are completely wrong, the model sits at nearly 50 feet in diameter with an incredible amount of detail. Over 2,500 fibre optic lights that simulate lanterns and torches, all the doors are hinged, real plants are used for landscaping, miniature birds are housed in the Owlery and even rebuilt miniature versions of the courtyards from Alnwick Castle and Durham Cathedral are seen throughout the model. The model was used for all the arial shots of the movie for every film but the last, as they did not want to blow up the beautiful creation.
- Durham Cathedral – The Durham Cathedral is one of the UK’s finest Norman buildings. Durham’s elegant cloisters became the snow-covered quadrangle, where Harry sets the owl flying in the first film, Professor McGonagall’s class teaching, and is also the scene of Ron’s slug vomiting in the Chamber of Secrets.
- Duke Humfrey’s Library – The medieval Duke Humfrey’s Library was used as the Hogwarts library and the elaborately vaulted Divinity School became Hogwart’s infirmary. Tour this historic place of learning to see where Oscar Wilde, C S Lewis and Harry Potter (it’s real, it’s real – don’t try to tell me it is just a story) once studied.
- Alnwick Castle – Grab your broomstick and head to Alnwick Castle, the site of Madame Hooch’s flying lesson in the first film.
- Cathedral of Gloucester – You may not meet Nearly Headless Nick or Moaning Myrtle in these hallways, but it still has a magical sense about it. An ancient wooden door leads down to the old crypt, said to be haunted by monks from the old Gloucester monastery. Scenes from the first two films were shot here including the shots of Harry and Ron hiding from the troll.
3. Platform 9 3/4
Catching a train from Kings Cross? Don’t forget to get that signature snap at Platform 9 ¾. Head towards the entrance of Platforms 9, 10 and 11 on the west side of the station and you will find a trolley disappearing into the magical realm through a wall marked ‘Platform 9 ¾’. As soon as I found out I was catching a train to Paris from Kings Cross, I was pushing the trolley with my bags into Platform 9 ¾ dressed in my magical attire that I had bought just for that occasion.
Take a step outside and you’ll see the Neo-Gothic facade of St Pancras where the Weasley’s magical Ford Anglia takes off in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
4. 4 Privet Drive, Little Whinging
Knock on the door of Harry’s worse nightmare; the home of the curmudgeonly Dursleys. You can either visit the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour and knock on the actual door (what I am doing in the photo above, ahh!) used for all the films, located in the soundstages of Leavesden. In this tour you are also able to see the cupboard under the stairs and other interior feature seen through the films.
However if you are looking for the true inspiration of the street that started the series you will find it at Picket Post Close, Berkshire. Named after a small town in Gloucestershire that J.K. Rowling visited as a child you can find the house the inspired the set… though they probably won’t be too happy if you went knocking on their door.
5. Millennium Bridge
The Millennium Bridge is a pedestrian suspension bridge that crosses the River Thames in London. It was destroyed by Fenrir Greyback and a small group of Death Eaters in the opening scene of Harry Potter and the Halfblooded Prince. Walk/run/ride/scream as if you are an extra on the falling bridge anytime of the day, for myself I crossed it excitedly in the late hours of the night.
6. Reptile House
Whilst at London Zoo be sure to check out the plaque that shows where Harry Potter first talked to a snake. All the shots were filmed inside the reptile house, where you can find a couple of snakes to try out your best Parseltongue. Unfortunately there is no travel handbook yet on that language, so you will have to have your sentences prepared from beforehand – forget google translate, learn Parseltongue here!
7. Ministry of Magic
Located in Great Scotland Yard, Scotland Place hosts the Ministry of Magic’s exterior. Follow in the footsteps of Arthur Weasley and take the tube to shiny Westminster Tube Station. From there, it’s a short stroll along Whitehall to Scotland Place. Sadly, you won’t find the red phonebox that Harry and Mr Weasley use to enter the Ministry in The Order Of The Phoenix, but, as you’ll discover in The Deathly Hallows, there’s a new route in anyway – please do not go and stand in a toilet, we really don’t need that fandom snap starting.
8. Diagon Alley
That hair-rising Knight Bus ride ends up at the secret entrance of Diagon Alley, known more commonly as Borough Market. A perfect spot for lunch, you are more likely to pick up a latte than a foaming tankard of butterbeer, but a pumpkin pastie is not out of the question.
If you are wanting something even more closer to the wizarding world, stroll down the set of Diagon Alley at the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour. I’m not going to lie, I may have screamed so loud when I walked around the corner into the street that everyone turned and looked at me, but it’s safe to say it was my favourite part of the tour.
9. The Leaky Cauldron
Located in Leadenhall Market, just across London Bridge you’ll find an ornate Victorian emporium of all things fruit, veg and meat. It’s a second home to Diagon Alley, with exterior shots of the Leaky Cauldron. Unfortunatly there is no Butter Beer to sample, although skip along to the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Tour and you can gulp down the sweet sensation that friend Harry, Ron and Hermione love.
10. Cafe Attack
If you are up for a bit of excitement, head over to Piccadilly Circus, Shaftesbury Ave. It is crawling with Death Eaters and the service is terrible, so make sure you have a wand or two. It’s a simple business to follow in their Deathly Hallows footsteps, though. Just take the tube to Piccadilly Circus, pick the exit marked ‘Shaftesbury Avenue’ and head that way. If you’re travelling by Apparation, aim for the Gap outlet.