Monday

Warner Bros Studio Tour: Hogwarts in the Snow

Or The Oh! Bedbug Magical Mystery Tour

A few months ago, I instructed Leona to take the weekend off and spend it at mine because I had A Big Surprise for her. Somehow I managed to pull everything off without her having an inkling as to what was happening, even when I told her to bring her Harry Potter Black Milk clothing. Everything was arranged in complete secret. I bought her train tickets and refused to let her see them, in case she knew what she'd find at Watford Junction. I was disappointed to find advertising posters and "Alight here for..." underneath every station sign. There was even a huge sign at the ticket barriers saying "This way for buses to..." Luckily for me, she was completely oblivious to all the clues and it was only when we exited the station and saw the Harry Potter bus that she screamed "Are we going to the Harry Potter tour?" 
As it happens, I won the Harry Potter competition way back in September and, as I know Leona was desperate to visit (as evidenced in this recent post), I decided to surprise her with a secret visit. We intended to go to the Hogwarts in the Snow event in 2013 but, unfortunately, we ran out of time, so I made sure our visit coincided with the Christmas event this time round. Let me tell you, it was spectacular! To say Leona was excited would be an understatement. I have never seen anybody so happy in all of my life! 

The Christmas decor was absolutely wonderful. Even the lighting had changed to make it feel more warm and merry. All the fireplaces had been lit with prop fire (more on that later) and beautiful Christmas trees reached up to that famous magical ceiling.

I thought I was good at decorating for Christmas! The trees were absolutely sensational, with little witches on broomsticks circling the star at the top. 


We're legitimate Hogwarts students, guys. 
All the house tables were decorated for Christmas with these adorable frosted cakes and, if you look at the bottom of the photo, you can see that every place was set with a little gift in house colours.
I definitely need some of these Slytherin crackers for next year! 

The Gryffindor dormitory was so festive! (By the way, why do wizards celebrate Christmas? Are they Christian?)
For me, the beauty of the tour is that you'll always find something different. This is the fourth year I've visited (see 2012, 2013 and 2014), but I've never seen the Snape boggart costume before. I'm not sure if it's a new exhibit or if I've just always overlooked it. 
Speaking of Snape, turn to page 394...



At one point, Leona lost me but she knew exactly where to find me: At the Potions classroom. Mmm Snape... 


Another thing I've never noticed: The Sorting Hat chilling out with Dumbledore in his office.
Spooky Dumbledore reflection! 
Since Leona and I are rebels, we each got one of the child's passports and had a lot of fun running around trying to find all of the pressing machines. I'm surprised the man gave me them as my uncertain "...yes?" reply to his questioning whether I have children was more than a little suspicious. 
Snow at The Burrow! 
There was a stall telling guests all about how the snow and fire was created. Most of the snow was shredded paper or salt. I missed out on hearing how this fire was made. Although you could comfortably put your hands in the flames, I was surprised to find that it was still a little warm. 
Back in October, there was a special Dark Arts event for Halloween with lots of never-before-seen props. After the event, some of these exhibits were put on permanent display, so I was very excited to see the new section which included this set-up from Borgin and Burke.
The Malfoy Manor set is laid out exactly as it is in that opening scene of Deathly Hallows part I. A new Snape costume? Yes! 
Another bonus of the new exhibits is the updated layout. Now Umbridge's office is open, rather than tucked away, so you can get really close to the intricate props.


The backlot was ridiculously quiet. I've always gone in the height of summer and found it packed but it turns out a Sunday afternoon in winter is the best time to visit if you want to avoid crowds!

Dave Coaches Reg Cattermole
Surely it's time for my Hogwarts letter now! 
Finally, it was time to see Hogwarts in the snow. I was incredibly excited but knew Leona would be amazed by it. I made her close her eyes and led her to the railing so that she had the full effect all at once. It was truly beautiful! 

With that, we'd reached the end of the tour and headed back home. It was such a magical day and I'm so happy that we got to see the Christmas decorations. I'm heading back in February, and I think it will be animal week, so keep an eye out for that!

25 comments :

  1. I've been wanting to go for ages and it looks amazing in the snow, with all the Christmas decorations. And I actually laughed out loud! I can never get Dave Coaches out of my head when I watch that bit.
    Kate xx

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  2. So pretty! I've been there twice before but never manage to get there when they cover it in snow. Going again in March with a friend from Malaysia, I can't wait :) Looks like you both had a great day and what a great surprise for Leona.

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  3. OOOH it looks amazing, glad you and Leona had such a good time! I've been once before but it looks even more spectacular when it's all wintery. I'll be keeping an eye out for the animal week one! :)

    Frankie x
    Crazyblondegal

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  4. Oh my gosh that is so incredible! I would LOVE to go there.

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  5. That looks SOO amazing! And your pictures were absolutely perfect. I feel like I was there. I'm so glad you were able to take your friend, that sounds so special for her. =-)

    (You can be my friend any time.)

    rebekahkoontzsite.com // US Lifestyle Blog

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  6. I only just started reading Harry Potter this year and I am absolutely obsessed! I really want to go and visit here in March when I am in London. I have one question though: will the tour ruin any of the books? I only just finished The Chamber of Secrets. It would be a shame not to get the full experience from the books.

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    1. I assume you haven't seen the films either. Because the tour is about the films, and the films are in less depth than the books, it doesn't give anything away about the differences in the books.

      However, if you haven't seen the films, I would recommend waiting until you've read all the books. Although it doesn't specifically say "this happens", there are props that will certainly act as big clues!

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  7. Ohhhh that looks incredible! I would absolutely love to go there, there looks to be so much to see. What a brilliant surprise :)

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  8. Ahh what an amazing surprise for Leona! Looks like such a magical place :)
    Maeve // Thrift O'Clock

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  9. I have wanted to go for so long, hopefully will go in the summer!
    Love Hayley,
    Water Painted Dreams

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  10. Loved when I visited in 2013, but would love even more to see it in the snow! Maybe next year.

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  11. What a lovely surprise for Leona! So glad you both enjoyed it. I am desperate to go to the Harry Potter tour but haven't made it yet...

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  12. This is such a lovely surprise! So kind and thoughtful of you. I recently visited the tour for the first time and LOVED it, I wish I'd been able to see it in the snow, but it was still magical anyway :)
    Emma x
    Writing Essays With Wine

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  13. I still haven't been to the Harry Potter Tour in the UK, shame on me. It looks truly magical.

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  14. Wow this is gorgeous. I am dying to go. You know, in America the crackers things aren't common? The first time I saw them was on Doctor Who!

    Kindness is the best accessory,
    Rebecca

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  15. Aren't you a sweetie!
    I loved our visit about 28 months ago and would love to make it back - Hogwarts must look incredible in the snow!

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  16. Oh wow how amazing! I've been once, in summer, and am dying to go during animal week! Love the new exhibits too, the malfoy maor table is amazing! Love Dave Coaches <3
    amber love

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  17. BEST DAY EVER!! Still can't believe it! Thank you! I love you! X

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  18. I LOVE THIS PLACE SO MUCH. The model at the end just made me cry both times I saw it. It's amazing.

    Corinne x
    www.skinnedcartree.com

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  19. Amazing photos! Last Christmas, I went to the Studios too (after also going at Easter) and I loved Hogwarts in the snow! I definitely need to visit again soon

    www.jessicainyourear.com
    xx

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  20. I'm visiting on Monday and I'm so excited! I first went in the summer of 2012, and my sister has never been so I can't wait to see her reaction! (Though she's 7 years older than me, so not quite an excitable child hahah!) Bit sad that we've missed the animals being there, but at least we get to see the snow!

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  21. Knowing how much Leona loves HP, this is all kinds of amazing and sweet of you! I'm not a huge fan of the films (slightly scared to put that out there!) but I still think I would really enjoy visiting the studio, it looks incredible.

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  22. Your photographs are incredible, Becky. I've been on the tour a couple of times and this post has reminded me of all the wonderful details. I agree that you can go over and over and still notice something new - even though I've been twice I'd definitely go again because I'm certain I still haven't managed to take everything in!

    I'd love to go during a special event like Hogwarts in the Snow as well - how amazing are the little Christmas details, like the presents in house colours and themed crackers?!

    x

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  23. It's amazing isn't it? I'm a proper Harry Potter lover too so was amazing to visit this place. I'm still waiting for my Hogwarts letter too don't worry x

    peepintokslife.blogspot.co.uk

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