Thursday, 22 June 2017

A Journey to the Land of Magic - Harry Potter World

Written by Benjamin, Year 7 student reporter

On Friday 16th June 2017, 90 Year 7 students and 9 teachers from Whitley Academy went to the one and only Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford. 

For many of us it was a once in a life time opportunity to go to this amazing tour, and even people from all over the world have come to this place where all the magic of the Harry Potter films was made. 

“It is important to remember that we all have magic inside us” 
JK Rowling

After arriving at school at 7.30 am for the teachers to check our names, we were told about the plan for the day. Then, heading towards the school gates with excitement building up, we spotted the two luxurious coaches that would take us. A few hours later, we arrived at the studio!

Later on in the day we found out that the film studio was originally an old aircraft factory where they manufactured planes such as the heavy bombers which were used in World War Two. 

At 10:10 am, two very nice staff members from the studio came onto our coaches and talked to us all about health and safety, and handed the teachers wristbands, so we could go round and see displays such as Gryffindor and the Death Eaters.

“Harry Potter will never be gone, NOT as long as those who remain are loyal to it.”

At the start of the tour, we were led into the theatre, where we watched a short 5-minute clip that told us some facts about the cast and the making of the Harry Potter film series. Daniel Radcliffe, who played the part of Harry Potter, finished off the short film and warned us that we would never see Quidditch in the same way again and later we found out why.

For your information, Quidditch is a magical competitive game in which the contestants fly on brooms in the Harry Potter books and films.

When the film was over, a studio staff member came out and asked anyone if their birthday was near and Miss Reynolds had a birthday the next day. She was asked to push lightly the grand door leading to the golden glamorous Great Hall door. And then WOW!

Do you know that the Great Hall has no actual ceiling? Camera tricks and CGI (computer generated imagery) special effects were used in the movie, but the actual ceiling is only a small scale model positioned above the camera to make it look as massive as the hall. It could fit 22 double decker buses in the hall and took over 90 tonnes of plaster to complete! Wow!

The Great Hall in the Hogwarts Castle is the main gathering area in the school where students receive their meals and welcome their special guests. It was here that you could find tables, golden cutlery and golden plates. On the walls there were different houses engraved into them. It was fantastic!

We followed the flow of people moving forwards. We managed to find the Gryffindor Common Room! Then the first passport stamp logo! It was next to the moving staircases!

The Forbidden Forest was opened in March 2017. When we entered the Forest, we went round a corner to see nothing but darkness. From the ashes, the massive spider, Aragog, sprung forward and scared everyone around it! Then we found out that Aragog had a leg span of over 18 feet, and was even able to crawl out of a hole in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets!

After the Forbidden Forest was Platform Nine and Three-Quarters with the actual train. It was awesome! You could pretend to run through the wall as well. 

Earlier in the blog I mentioned that you would never look at Quidditch the same way you used to. The reason for that is that we found the magical green background around the filming/photography area, and now you basically just sit on a broomstick and the film crew change the background behind you. It actually makes you look like you were flying and not physically in the air. 

We all had lunch in the spacious studio cafĂ© and some of us managed to purchase some mugs of butter beer. As a Harry Potter book fan, I was aware of the butter beer but had no idea how it tasted. I had to say it was a fascinating experience to try this drink. It was non-alcoholic, a foaming mug, a wizarding beverage! Very tasty and cool!

After having enough time to wander around the Privet Drive, the Knight Bus and the Hogwarts Bridge, we moved on to the remaining parts of the tour. We spent time at Creature Effects, and the Arts and Graphics Departments.

We stood in awe to watch the paper model of the Hogwarts Castle and realised something called 'lipstick cameras' were used to make the castle look so real in Harry Potter films. There were small screens surrounding the castle that let us get a closer look and a video clip telling us how long it took to build Hogwarts Castle, 40 days was all! 

The final leg of the Tour was a little room, a room full of boxes with the casts' wands. There were hundreds!

To be honest I didn’t like it, I absolutely loved everything from the trip!

We safely arrived back to our school gate at around 5:00 pm, earlier than planned. 

As I am recalling my memories to write this blog, I remember all of my friends’ smiling faces with lots and lots of laughter on the journey back home. We will remember this trip experience for a long while!