Our grandchildren seem to have so much ‘stuff’ which all too often seems to clutter up their homes so in recent years our birthday and Christmas gifts tend to take the form of an outing. This way our gift to them includes happy memories of fun days out with us – Nonna and Pops.
The only trouble is that the outings that the grandchildren choose are incresingly elaborate; so it was no surprise when two grandsons aged 9 and 10 opted for a trip to a highly desirable venue – the Harry Potter Studio Tour.
This visit involved a 2 and a half hour journry to get there, some greasy and not very nice chips from a local chippy once we arrived in the vicinity and before we went in, leaving Pops in the car reading – he isn’t a Harry Potter fan and so felt it wasn’t worth the expemse to buy him a ticket. He only came to help Nonna with the driving.
The tickets were booked in advance on the internet – admission is booked for a specific time slot and you can’t just turn up and buy a ticket. We went in at 6p.m – the only time I could get despite booking weeks in advance. This is a very popular, highly desirable and expensive tour.
Was it worth it? I would say ‘yes’.
We were in the studio for about 4 hours, although the last half hour was spent in the shop as the two boys, racked by indecision and limited means, wandered around trying to decide what to spend their hard come by savings on.
The tour itself is very detailed and interesting. Various scenes from the films are displayed (the Great Hall at Hogwarts, Gryffindor dormitory etc) we got a close up look at various creatures and monsters, the boys had a lesson in wand usage, balanced on a broomstick and looked in (and photographed) every carriage in the Hogwart’s Express. It was a joy to watch their excitement and enthusiasm.
The displays also provided much to interest me – detailed explanations of some of the special effects, elaborate paper model of various sets, demonstrations of how make up and padding was used to make a monster look especially fierce. It was all fascinating and I regretted that I had not encouraged my husband to join us as I think that he would have enjoyed the intricate aspects of the design of the various scenes as well as the artwork.
My only reservation is that I felt exploited by the cost of things like the the butterbeer. Naturally the boys wanted to try it – and on top of the £107 entrance fee – I wanted them to have the fun of trying it.The cost ? £6.95. And in reality the butter beer was some kind of cheap pop. The Butterbeer is served half way round the tour, in the midst of the tour. There is no escape! Then at the end we are lead directly into the shop, another trap, surrounded by overpriced tat. The boys were eager to spend their pocket money on some Harry Potter memorabalia so I had to walk away and shut my mind to the terrible waste of money. I felt that the prices were so high it really was a cynical exploitation of the youngsters’ enthusiasm for Harry Potter, which was apity because the tour itself is worth visiting. It combines the fun of seeing familiar scenes from the films with being genuinely informative about the skills and creativity that went in to making the films.