Hogwarts in the Snow

On Tuesday I surprised my best friend, Chloe, with a visit to the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour. We have both visited before, in April 2012, but since then they have added the snow feature for Christmas, the Hogwarts Express train, and the Backlot Cafe. In addition, I knew that Chloe would never expect me to plan something of this scale, so I knew it would be a fabulous surprise. When we arrived at Watford Junction station I was frantically looking around for the shuttle bus (which, incidentally, we did not get the first time we visited), and when it arrived Chloe was like "no Angela, are we really?! I didn't think it was here, I thought it was further out in the country? ANGELA?" 

The Shuttle Bus
If possible, I would highly recommend getting the shuttle bus instead of driving to the location. It almost makes you feel as if you're on the Knight Bus, especially if it is dark outside. It also effectively builds up the suspense, with an introductory clip featuring Richard Griffiths, dramatic music vibrating through the floor, and fellow fans talking about how excited they are (albeit most of them were under 10-years-old, accompanied by parents).

The Tour
The tour was a lot funnier this time around. When we first visited, the Studio Tour had only recently opened, so it was absolutely stuffed with people, and subsequently everything was rushed. Anyway, because it was comparatively empty this time around, we were able to examine things for longer; whereas before we had skipped a few attractions because of the crowds around them, this time we saw it ALL. Also, our experience was definitely enhanced by Snapchat which, of course, barely existed in 2012!

The Snow
To be honest, I expected more snow. It was an unrealistic expectation, I know. They cannot simply cover EVERYTHING in snow, and they didn't. But I enjoyed the snow features nonetheless. Towards the start of the tour there was a stall with all the variations of snow used in the movies. The lady working in the stall kindly explained all of them to us, telling us in what instances they would be used in the movies. She even gave us a demonstration of the moisture-expanding snow. And randomly popped on the side was a fake log fire thing. She explained how they made this too, but I was too preoccupied with trying to get a good picture of the fire (I didn't). There was not a great deal of snow for a while after that. Diagon Alley was one of the prime locations I had expected to be fully immersed in snow, and, frankly, I still think it should have been. They had snow outside of one shop, and a lady operating a machine was able to make foot steps appear in the snow on the ground. She wasn't too keen on doing it frequently, so we only caught a glimpse of it just as she was finishing. Finally, the last portion of snow I noticed was on the Hogwarts sculpture at the end of the tour. I was well and truly impressed by this - it was very Christmassy.
Chloe and I hypothesised that they must have to vacuum all of the snow off, because surely there is no other way?

The Hogwarts Express
Ah the train! We had no idea that you could actually go ON the train! Each carriage contained props from significant train scenes in the movies; they even had Lavender's L+R stained on a window of one carriage! Just outside of the train was a Hogwarts Express gift shop, with a cart full of sweets, just like in the mooovies! And beside that was a *free* interactive train simulator-type-thing. Basically, you could sit in imitation carriage seats, and a voice over would explain the green screen and different visual scenes of the Scottish Highlands or dementors that were used in the windows for the final scenes. Below I have included a failed picture attempt of Chloe and I looking frightened by a demontor by our window.

Oh, and before I forget, there were some Platform 9 3/4 trolley-in-the-wall things - like at King's Cross Station - that you could pose by. This was new too, I think.

The Backlot Cafe
I am glad they have added the Cafe to the tour. Surely you cannot expect people to have an average tour length of 4 hours without eating, surely. Besides, you would need food to get rid of the taste from the mediocre Butterbeer (that is not even correctly made). Why is it cold? WHY? Anyway, back to the food. Yes, I am glad they offer food, although I wish they had a larger variety. The vegetarian options were out of stock by the time we had arrived, which I thought was a poor organisational effort on their behalf. But still it better than before, I guess.

Finally, to finish this post I have included some pictures. Excuse any crazy eyes.

 Draco wore a wig?

Lots of love,

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