AG travel diaries: Harry Potter studio tour!

Hey guys! So after A levels, me and my friend Charlotte planned a holiday to visit Harry Potter studios. We went on a coach trip with Caledonian travel because we thought it would be the best option overall considering it was our first holiday without any parents. It was also much cheaper than organising a train and hotel ourselves as the coach trip only cost £140 altogether plus extra spending money that we took to purchase things in Harry Potter studios and London. We had a really lovely time in the end and visited Harry Potter Studios on the first day and London on the second day. In this post, I’m going to give a more detailed insight into the trip overall and share my thoughts on the experience with Caledonian travel.

Day one: 2nd July 2022

We were due to leave Hull Paragon Interchange at 6:30am. So I had to get up at 5:20am to make it on time which was a bit on the early side for me. Nevertheless, we made it with plenty of time to spare and set off for the Studios. The journey took 4 hours altogether plus an hour stop in the middle at Leicester services. We arrived at the Studios for about 11:30am and we were allowed about 5 hours to explore the Studios until 4:30pm.

Me and Charlotte instantly headed for the gift shop and I was enthralled with how much it imitated the wizarding world. The merchandise was placed in the midst of scenery that perfectly fitted with the events of the film series. For example, the sweets that belonged to Honeydukes were placed in a corner that looked very similar to the set from the film. It teased what we could expect when stepping into the Studios. In the end, I decided to buy a Crookshanks teddy, a Hufflepuff pin badge and a Time Turner keyring.

After that, we headed into the Studio tour. The first set we got to see was the Great Hall in all its splendour. Seeing the massive golden doors that led to it open for us and stepping onto the set was absolutely magical. As someone who is a massive Harry Potter fan, it was amazing to see this set and all the other ones in real life after watching them previously through my TV screen. As we wandered through other sets like Dumbledore’s office and the Potions lab, I was struck by the level of detail that every set, costume and prop embodied. So much work had clearly gone into creating such a magical world behind the scenes and visiting the Studio tour really gave me a new appreciation for that. A particular favourite prop of mine was the Triwizard cup as its intricate details and stunning yellow hue was very eye catching.

The next section after this led us through the Forbidden Forest. Dimmed lights and eerie shadows helped to capture the spooky mood of the forest overall. Buckbeak was settled in there and had been adapted so he moved up and down which really breathed life into him as a prop. I was walking around with bated breath, trying to avoid Aragog at all costs because I hate tarantulas. Although I managed to avoid him once, I had the fright of my life when four Aragogs dropped down over our heads. That spurred me on to head for the next section because I can hardly stand to look at one Aragog let alone four.

The next set was definitely up there as one of my favourites. Who doesn’t love the classic platform 9 and 3/4 send off scene in most of the Harry Potter movies? We captured a few pictures of the trolleys melting into the wall and the train itself before joining the queue to go inside the Hogwarts Express. Each carriage had key props from different movies so it was really interesting to see the different set ups and reminisce about each scene. Going inside the Hogwarts Express was definitely a highlight of our visit for me.

We realised we had reached midway through the Studio Tour when we entered the outdoor section which is home to the Knight bus, the Burrow, Privet Drive, the Hogwarts fountain and bridge as well as the most recent addition, Professor Sprout’s Herbology lab. Before exploring these sets, we decided to purchase some Butterbeer, the classic drink of the Harry Potter movies. If I’m being perfectly honest, it didn’t live up to my expectations and it was quite bitter. That being said, it was still really cool to try it and another way that the Studio Tour allowed us to step into the movies.

The sets in the outside area were definitely highlights of the experience, much like the Hogwarts Express. Seeing the Knight bus, wandering through Privet Drive and walking across the Hogwarts bridge was so surreal and it was really special to immerse ourselves in the world of Harry Potter through this. The Herbology lab was particularly cool because it had only just opened the day before so we were some of the first people ever to see it. It was exactly like it was in the movies and to make it interactive, there were a few mandrakes that you could pull out of the soil, just like in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. I really enjoyed wandering through this set and I couldn’t believe we were counted within the first few people to experience it!

The prize for the most aesthetic set has to be awarded to Gringotts bank. There was a normal version and then a destroyed version as seen in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows part 2. The normal version was stunning with symmetrical marble pillars on either side and an eye catching chandelier hanging from the ceiling. The destroyed version was similar but with fallen pillars and crushed marble across the floor. It also had a visual graphic showing a dragon storming into the bank and blazing it with fire which was really cool to see.

We then found ourselves wandering along Diagon Alley. It was really interesting to see all the shops in real life and work out their place in the wizarding world. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes was particularly eye catching with its orange exterior and windows filled with tricks and treats. There was even a boy vomitting sweets in one of the windows which I thought was reminiscent of a scene in the books when Fred and George try out their tricks on some of the Hogwarts children which causes some of them to become unwell as a result. This set was definitely another one of my particular favourites.

The final part of the tour was a massive model of Hogwarts. It was absolutely beautiful to walk around and see it from all different angles. There was also a smaller model encased in glass that was alongside it. The inscription paired with it described how they used it to plan the battle scenes at Hogwarts because it made it much easier to visualise. It was a lovely way to end off the tour although it was definitely bittersweet as I had enjoyed it so much.

We set off from the Studios at 4:30pm and arrived at the selected hotel. It was the Ibis Hotel at Thurrock and it was reasonable, considering the price. I’ve definitely stayed in nicer hotels but it also wasn’t the worse one I’ve ever stayed in. The room itself was very small and the bed was not comfortable to sleep in. The carpet was so disgusting that I kept my socks on the whole time. The bathroom was pretty standard and it was probably the best part of the whole room. Dinner was included within the package and you could chose between either chicken on the bone or breaded chicken with chips. Although it was delicious, I was quite surprised that there was no vegetarian option offered. Overall, I don’t think I will be staying at this hotel again, given the option.

Day two: 3rd July 2022

After packing and enjoying a buffet breakfast, we set off for London. I was really excited because London is one of my favourite places ever! We took a scenic route into London and saw many of the skyscrapers that belong to Canary Wharf. Our bus parked up opposite the London Eye and near the Embankment tube station and we were told we had 4 hours until we needed to arrive back at the coach.

Our first stop of the day was Camden Market. I had been dying to visit for ages and it definitely didn’t disappoint! We took the tube from Embankment and emerged from Camden Town right into the midst of the buzzing market. I found it similar to Covent Garden in that there were different markets to visit that hosted a range of independent sellers. We enjoyed wandering around the different stalls and shops and occasionally buying things if they caught our eyes. I purchased a pin badge and 2 bracelets and ended up spending about £16 altogether. This doesn’t include the £6 Biscoff and Nutella waffle that I ended up buying as well which was absolutely delicious. The buzzing atmosphere of Camden Market is so unique compared to any other area of London that I have ever visited before and I’m already looking forward to my next visit!

After this, we headed for Neal’s Yard, an aesthetic hidden gem near Covent Garden. We took the Northern line to Charing Cross which, according to Google, was the nearest tube station. However, I soon realised that Leicester Square was actually closer by about 5 minutes so I took away from that experience that Google is definitely not always right! We eventually found Neal’s Yard and I was instantly blown away with how stunning it was. One building was painted in stripes of different pastel colours and it contrasted beautifully with the pure white building on the opposite side. String lights dangled overhead and added further to the effect of this beautiful place. We enjoyed taking pictures and admiring the beauty of it for a bit before continuing on to our next location.

We ended our time in London with some shopping on Oxford Street and Regent street. We didn’t have loads of time before we had to get back to the coach so we just meandered around and visited as many shops as we could. I was sad that the trip came to an end after this but I created some amazing memories over the weekend and it just made me look forward even more to my next trip to London.

Thank you for reading this post! Have you visited Harry Potter Studios before? Let me know in the comments below! There’ll be another post out soon but until then bye for now!

Amelia Grace a.k.a Amelia in Hull

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