Day 9: Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio London & The Tower of London

in the wandering city you're free
with mountains made of gold and silver
you'll find who you're meant to be

Navajo - Island Cassettes

I have 20 pictures planned for this post. That's too much yes, let's see if I can edit myself and cut down on a few. One of the thing I really wanted to do while in London was to visit Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio and I did just that (mission accomplished, thank You God for the blessing). To visit Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio London, you have to book the ticket beforehand, you can't get it on the spot. I booked more than 1.5 months before the day of visit and many of the time slot were already sold out. I ended up choosing the first slot at 09:00 AM. I would have liked a later option so that I didn't have to wake up early, but alas such was the decision that God made for me and I do see that God chose this so that every other things can work out. To make me more excited about this time slot, I think of my mom who would think 09:00 AM is not early at all and would chastise me for being lazy and wasting precious time during holiday :P I think if you cannot get the ticket on your own, you can take any of the day tour that would include transport from London to the studio, but they cost like more than 2 times than when you book the ticket yourself. I paid 44.95 GBP for my ticket which includes digital guide and a guide book. I was quite in a dilemma if I wanted the digital guide and the guide book, but then I thought I should just get it, I didn't want to miss out.

I was quite worried if I was able to arrive on time. London tube website is very useful, when you google journey planner, they also give you the timing of the train. First I had to make my way to Euston station. That was easy. Then I had to take a train from there to Watford Junction. Arriving in Euston, the TV board confirmed the train that I should take and I found out which platform it was. Then I got confused because there's no gate in accessing that platform, so I wasn't sure how I was supposed to pay for the fare using Oyster card. I asked a random guy and he told me about the small machine at the corner where I had to tap in. He reminded me that I could use the oyster card to Watford Junction only. Nice guy. So I went to the machine and tapped my card. This reminded me of years ago, first trip to Italy in which I had to remind myself to find the machine to validate every train ticket I used. That really felt so long ago as it really is. Side note: I do miss Italy sometime. So anyways this train I took was the express one, it skipped all the stops and went directly to Watford Junction. It took around 20 minutes, maybe less. Watford Junction is not a very big station and that's good. I was worried I would get confused in this station. Found the bus station easy enough because it's just outside on the left and as googled the Harry Potter shuttle arrived as expected and all of us Harry Potter fans got in.

When you arrive, you should use the machine and scan in your print out to get the actual ticket. It was straightforward to use. I actually arrived there before 09:00 AM and I have to say it's kinda nice to be on the first slot. It's not as manic with the so many people which I saw later in the day. That being said, the first slot itself had a lot of people. I saw some little kids in robes, the cutest thing. Being first, you had time to slowly take your time, use the toilet, or have breakfast at the cafe. The reason why they have to divide it into slots is because the first thing we do is enter the Great Hall and each time the doors are closed and each group enter together. If it's your birthday, I think you can tell the staff and they let you open the door. This simple act of opening the door and bringing you into the Great Hall is enough for people like me who's a fan to like gasped in awe and I don't even think I'm that big of a fan. I give myself like 7.5 out of 10. The digital guide I had gave explanation on each of the stop point and there were also additional videos in there that you can watch. There's actually some staff in some of the point and they gave explanation at some time interval. You can also ask them question if you like I think. The whole thing is extraordinary. As a person who loves Harry Potter, I was just giddy with excitement in everything that I saw. The studio is big but it's also not that big when you think about it. So each time when they have to reset the studio for a scene, it's kinda amazing to think of the logistic and such. The creativity in each of the craft is as they say magical in itself. When I saw all of these, I thought of the amount of work done and felt kinda sad to think the people working on it didn't get paid the millions. So anyways here are some of the things I saw. They're just so amazing and hence I had difficulty not putting them here. If you're not a fan, all these things might be so boring for you.

The Great Hall is in the actual size one would imagine it to be. At the end of the Great Hall is the teacher's tables. Here you have all the costumes that the teachers wore.

This is the room that Harry and Ron shared in Gryffindor. The beds became too small for them as they grew.

This is the Gryffindor common room with costumes worn by Hermione, Harry, and Ron. Painting on the left is the picture of Prof. McGonagall in her younger days.

These are the different important items in Harry Potter universe. You have the philosopher stone, the shell that Harry used to made Dumbledore drink the potion in the inferi lake, the golden snitch, and many others.

Here's one of the cupboard in Dumbledore's office. It contains many curious things. One thing that really made me excited was seeing the pensieve. Obviously there are so many things in Harry Potter world that I would want to have, but a pensieve would be quite top of the list.

These are the different paintings that adorned Hogwarts' walls. Fun fact: some of the people in the paintings are the people in production.

Potion room. It's pretty big and I did get quite sentimental a bit because Prof. Snape is like my favorite character in the whole thing. Never doubted from the beginning that he was evil. I think it would be a twist for me if he's evil instead. Seeing the room and be reminded that the actor Alan Rickman has passed away, well it's rather sad.

Below is a picture of Hagrid's hut. By the way as you can see we're allowed to take as many pictures as we want. I remember when there was a Harry Potter's exhibition in Singapore way back years ago, we weren't allowed to take any picture at all. How mean. What I remembered from that exhibition was that Hagrid's sofa was very big and for some reason I think we're allowed to sit on it. Anyway here I learned that there was a body double for Hagrid.

The snake door of the Chamber of Secrets. It looked menacing and cool at the same time.

The Weasley's dining room and kitchen. Here there were some items that moved by themselves like a pair of knitting needle which were moving as if knitting a scarf, a knife which was cutting a carrot, and a pan being washed.

The Black Family tapestry. Very cool. Another example of how detailed the craftsmanship on these things are, things that didn't appear for a long time on screen or even things that only appeared in the background.

The Hogwarts Express. It's an actual train. You can get on it. It didn't have many compartments and they're all dressed with items from where they appeared in the movies.

After this Hogwarts Express and platform part, it's actually the end of section 1. I went for lunch before continuing. You could get butterbeer too. I didn't because I had read some people saying it tasted very sweet and not very nice. I had butterbeer ice cream instead. I can't remember, it may cost 4.95 GBP or perhaps 3.95 GBP, point is I thought it's quite an expensive ice cream, but there were a lot of it. It tasted okay. Not the best tasting to die for ice cream I have ever tasted. It's just okay I think. Anyway the second section begins with the outdoor lot where there's the knight bus and the Hogwarts Bridge. There's also the Dursley's house. We were allowed to enter it and see its living room. In this picture the envelopes are being hold by transparent strings and as you can see they're invisible. By the way it's been 15 years since the first Harry Potter movie. I feel extremely old :|

By the way, back in section 1, as mentioned some points have staff manning them and they would give explanation from time to time. Well there's one point on the mechanics of some of these magical effects and there was a demonstration of how the many envelopes could fly out from the door slot. We're allowed to take the envelopes that flew out and of course I took one. While section one was about the sets and items used in the movies, section 2 was the production side of things - the research, the experiment, the blue print for the sets, etc. It was truly mind opening. There's a lot of work involved in all these. The people doing all these worked so hard and I truly doubt they get paid the millions. Made you wonder why movie stars deserve the millions they're getting and the people behind the stage who work as hard, if not even harder, don't get that kind of money. Anyways, the last thing we saw is this model of the whole Hogwarts castle and ground and it was big and majestic and awesome. They used this detailed model to film the exterior of the castle and ground and using special effects they put everything together with the live action. It's totally amazing.

Then it was the gift shop. I bought perhaps the most useless thing ever. Please don't tell my mom. I was in a dilemma about it, but then I decided to give in. I bought Prof. Snape's wand. Again he's my favorite character and his wand is black in color, so it's nice and it's also cheaper than what I saw during the Harry Potter exhibition in Singapore. At that time I remember I found the wands to be so expensive that I just couldn't. This one is still expensive at 20 GBP plus for a stick made in China (no surprise), but ultimately it was cheaper than when they're sold in Singapore then. Even though it doesn't have a purpose, I was really happy when I got it :D In the end I think I left at around 1 pm. For more pictures from Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio, you can go here.

The plan for that day was to visit the National Gallery after Harry Potter Studio and the next day to visit the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey. Direction wise, they all made sense. However then I'd been hearing that the next day it would be a really rainy days in London, so it's better to do outdoor activity before that day. I hate having to change plan, I'm not very good with changes, but I had to. You can't be stubborn all the time, because you'll end up being stupid. So the plan next was to go to the Tower of London instead. Unfortunately the stupid me still did a stupid thing. I had actually googled the journey back and got the schedule. When I arrived in Watford Junction I was in such a hurry and stupidity that I didn't consult the TV board to confirm the schedule and check the correct platform and train. Instead I just walked on. I saw the train, seemed like a correct one and indeed it was, but it wasn't the express one. This one was the one that stopped at every stop, arrrghh!!! Okay the good point is at least I was in the correct train. However instead of the 20 mins or so, it took me so much longer.

I still arrived at the Tower of London and I should just be thankful for that. Just like everything else, I have booked for this. The staff didn't seem to scan the print out. It made me wonder if I could still use the ticket again. Unlike the other things I booked, the ticket for the Tower of London is valid for 7 days from your selected date instead of for a specific date. So anyway, just like everyone recommended, the first thing I did was to queue up to see the Crown Jewels. As expected the queue was long. People were writing that you should do this first to make sure you can get in. In retrospect, perhaps it's better to go see it nearer to closing time because I saw the queue was much shorter then. I really didn't enjoy being in the queue. I didn't like the noise, from the horde of French teens on a field trip to the 2 American girls behind me who couldn't stop talking. The queue moved pretty fast but it still took a lot of time from waiting outside to actually seeing all the crowns and all the other regalia. You can't take any picture here. There's a lot of gold and everything are impressive. Below is the building that houses the Crown Jewels.

The internet also recommends taking the free Yeoman Warder tour. However after I exited the Crown Jewels, I saw that the tour was already started. I didn't feel like joining them and so I went to see the ravens and then I explored the compound by walking the walls. Walking the walls bring you to the different towers and there's some exhibitions in them. After I was done I saw that there's another Yeoman Warder tour. Again I found them when they're already in the middle of their tour. When I found out they're visiting the Church of St Peter ad Vincula, I joined in. You can only enter this church with the Yeoman Warder tour. I couldn't remember much of the explanation in the church. After the church the tour was done, so yeah sadly I didn't experience the complete Yeoman Warder tour. After this, I went to see the old torture devices that they had; they're medieval kind and they were really scary. I also went to the White Tower where there are armouries on display, but I didn't feel like exploring this much. When I left the tower, I took another way to get to the tube station and I took pictures of the Tower Bridge.

It's been a long day, but considering the next day was my last day in London, I still had things to complete. I still needed to see the important sights. If you've been reading, I haven't gone to see Buckingham Palace yet. So I stopped at St. James Park. I was very tired and quite worried that this walk through the park would be long and I may not make it to the palace. Turns out St. James Park is very charming. It's quite small when you compare it to Hyde Park, but small thing can be better too. It's definitely pretty and it made for a really nice walk. I love it a lot. There's a lot birds, ducks and all and there's also some flower beds.

There's a bridge in its lake. Standing on the bridge, you will see the London Eye peeking from all the trees on one side and on the opposite side you will see the Buckingham Palace also peeking from all the trees.

I made it to the palace. There were a lot of tourists as expected. There were the guards. As you can see, the one on the left was marching. I don't know why he did that. Maybe they're allowed to do that when they're getting bored? The queen is not around because the flag is the UK flag.

I walked around the area a bit. Walked up to the big Victoria Memorial and that's pretty much it. The next day was my last day in London. That means I only have 1 more post to write people *phew* We're almost there peeps :D

:) eKa @ 9:53:00 PM •


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