So it's no secret that I'm a massive Harry Potter fan. I can pretty much quote from every book, line for line, I've seen all the movies a dozen times, gotten embroiled in numerous deep fan discussions and my friends and family tag me in anything Harry related online. So imagine my joy when I could finally visit the studio in London.
Funnily enough, I had been to London twice before and the way our itineraries worked, I missed out on going both times. This time when I went back, it ranked as high as breathing and sleeping and I was not going to miss it.
It's very well signposted and easy to get to by either car or public transport. I don't know about you, but I'm not the hugest fan of driving in a foreign country, so we opted for the public transport. Catching the train from Kings Cross Station to Watford Junction is quite easy and the services leave quite regularly. Once you arrive at Watford Junction, there are clear signs to the shuttle bus which will take you to the studio but if you get lost there are some lovely muggles to help you. The bus from Watford to Leavesden, where the studio is, takes around 15 minutes and only costs about £2.50.
When you get there.
When you book you are assigned a time slot for your tour. This is the starting time but the tour is self-guided, so you don't have to worry about being shoved through quickly, you can take as much time as you want.
Next comes the queuing. If you have a bit of time to spare before your allocated time slot, feel free to grab a coffee or have a look at the gift shop. I'd recommend saving that until last though because there is every chance you'll miss the tour with all the goodies on display! When your allotted time rolls around, you are moved through to a screening area, where a lovely Welcome Witch briefs you about the tour and the rules. You then head on through to an auditorium and watch a short trailer where Daniel, Emma and Rupert give you some behind the scenes insider stories of the filming of Harry Potter.
When you are bursting with excitement and feel like you can't wait any longer, the film ends and you are led into the Great Hall...
Once into the Great Hall, you are free! You can start exploring the wonders of the studio. There are loads of interactive displays and information galore, as well as a million opportunities for photos! If you thought you knew a lot about Harry Potter when you walked in, you will leave practically an expert, there are so many fun facts and tidbits of information that will make you swoon with enjoyment. Like did you know all the labels on the wand boxes in Ollivander's shop were written by hand?
Be sure to visit the green screen rooms where you can purchase snaps of yourself on a broomstick or on the Hogwarts Express. You'll have to cough up some muggle money for these though.
About half way through you'll hit the cafe where you can have a bite to eat as well as a cup of butterbeer which is actually delicious, very sweet and creamy. After lunch you head out into the back lot where you can visit all the wonders of Privet Drive, the Knight Bus and Godric's Hollow, before continuing on for more Harry awesomeness.
In the second half you can see an amazingly large model of Hogwarts as well as more sets and costumes and so much detail. You will wander through mesmerised until the tour ends. Yet, when you think it's all doom and gloom that it's finished and you think it can't get any better than what you've seen, then comes the cherry on top... the merchandise shop. You will want one of everything, especially a wand, a set of Gryffindor robes and all the Bertie Botts Every Flavoured Beans you can carry. You will probably blow all your savings (totally worth it) and you will leave with some awesome momentos of your tour.
After the tour is finished you'll experience all the emotions after the best day of your life. Happiness. Euphoria. A sense of fulfilment. Sadness at it having to be at an end. Then you will go home and wait eagerly, hoping that Hogwarts had indeed made a mistake and your acceptance letter is on its way... at 28.