It was unplanned, but it happened. I tried to resist it, but couldn’t. The signs and references were everywhere. My head would follow the buses with the advertisement for it on the side…“I think you really wanna do it.” My best friend knew it before I did. The trip was almost over and I said, “Yes! Call! Call! Call!” I don’t know why I resisted it so much. I did want to keep our expenses as minimal as possible…But the truth was undeniable. Before leaving London, I had to do the Harry Potter studio tour.
I felt childish wanting it so badly. I also felt oddly emotional. Harry Potter is a huge part of my childhood. I still remember the phone conversation with the friend that introduced me to the J.K. Rowling book in elementary school. It was the first book I ever read. I remember dragging my parents to the book store to get it (and all the other books that followed). I remember staying up late because I just had to read one more chapter! I remember Daddy taking me to see the first movie for my 13th birthday. Daddy. Bingo. That’s why I felt emotional.
Daddy passed away exactly three years ago. By then our relationship had improved in great strides. But during the several dysfunctional years there was one thing we could both agree on: Harry Potter. While he was alive, we watched every movie together, and discussed each character in great depth. Harry Potter is symbolic of my childhood, and a good aspect of my relationship with my dad. The moment I saw the giant chess pieces from the first movie, I knew I wanted to call him and tell him everything! I wanted to send him the picture of me drinking butterbeer in front of Pivet Drive number 4, and explain its extremely sweet-and-this-is-bad-for-your-health taste.
The idea that I can’t call him and tell him all about this event bugs me. And so I write this post as a letter to him (and send it out to the big, wide Internet Universe) —
My trip in London has been insanely fun! I stood in the same street corner where you took a picture with Big Ben behind you!! I also took a boat ride on the Seine, in Paris, like you! But guess what. You won’t believe me. I was in The Great Hall today.
THE Great Hall. Daddy, my feet have touched Hogwarts ground. Warner Bros. is getting loads of money with a tour of the studio where they filmed the Harry Potter movies. Before you walk in, they make you watch this video on a movie theater size screen. In the video, Hermione, Ron, and Harry welcome you -the gates of the Great Hall behind them. When it is over, screen lifts up and BOOM. There’s the real gate of the real Great Hall. We walked in, and the mannequins of all the professors were up ahead; the tables for each house; the costumes; the flying candles. I had made so much fun of L for saying that she cried the first time she was there. Well. I had teary eyes, too. Go figure.
I know you would have loved to be there. It’s almost impossible to describe all the sets, props, and costumes on display. But just to give you an idea, the Gryffindor common room is way cooler in person; it feels cozy, too. Snape’s dungeon classroom is intimidating as hell! The Weasley’s home is so warm and inviting!!! They actually had the flying pans and pots washing themselves in the sink, like in the movie. Umbridge’s obnoxious all-pink-and-cats office inside the Ministry of Magic makes you feel as wonderfully sick in person!
I think one of the most fascinating things on display was the Voldemort fetus from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Daddy, that thing looked alive, I tell you. How do they make the eyes look like that? That thing was watching me watching it.
Oh! Oh! I walked down Diagon Alley!! All the shops are really there!! And I saw the door to the Chamber of Secrets. There was a special Quidditch exhibition, and the real broommakers were there. L got me to touch Draco’s black Quidditch broom. The real broom! I got to see Tom Riddle’s grave, and it kinda crept me out, so I kept a good distance there. I drank a cup of butterbeer in front of Pivet Drive #4, and in front of Harry’s parents’ house. Yeap. It was badass. I don’t think I would drink it again, though.
You know what you would have loved? The actual model of Hogwarts. The entire structure and surrounding grounds of Hogwarts is a “miniature model” that could take up an entire big living room…All shots of Hogwarts were done there. Even some outside scenes with the actors were done on a green screen, and then they pasted the shot of the actor into the shot of the miniature Hogwarts. The videos explained this process nicely. They explain so many special effects, it almost ruins the films yet makes you LOVE them more.
The dementors that gave me nightmares as a child turned out to be puppet size pieces of cloth! All along, I had nothing to worry about.
Can you believe the Hungarian Horntail dragon that Harry battles in The Goblet of Fire took like 4 months to build? Can you believe every wand was handmade? Every single wand. We are talking about 4,000 wands. The effort is clear.What do these people tell their children? ‘Mommy makes magic wands for a living’? Hello, dream jobs everywhere.
That a whole entire world can be created out of a person’s imagination blows my mind. A world with a political system, its own economics, education, laws, food, and nature…it all makes sense thanks to the creative words of a single woman who happened to write it all down. I was a kid again. But I think the wildest thing was that in every prop, every set, every costume, every picture and character:
I saw you.
I always miss you,