From Harry Potter to Willy Wonka in London

One of the things that topped our list when visiting London was making a trek to “The Making of Harry Potter” Warner Bros. Studio Tour, which is actually about an hour outside of the city in Leavesden.

Outside of the tour.

Entering “The Making of Harry Potter.”

The movies were filmed here for over a decade, and tour visitors are able to explore two soundstages and a backlot that feature original sets, animatronic creatures and special effects.

People were EXCITED.

No need to hide your excitement here.

No need to hide your excitement here.

Just stepping into the famous Great Hall was a magical experience.

The Great Hall.

The Great Hall.

The tour is mostly self-guided, took us about two hours to complete and was filled with fun facts about the movies. For example, the floating candles in the Great Hall in “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone” were originally suspended by wires that were to be removed in post-production. But during the first few days of filming, they kept burning through the wire and falling onto the tables, so the producers cut the wires and created them using digital effects instead.

Other highlights for me included seeing the boys’ dormitory, Harry’s costumes and Dumbledore’s office, where the hundreds of books on the shelves are actually British phonebooks covered in leather.

Dumbledore's office.

Dumbledore’s office.

And of course we couldn’t miss a walk through the authentic Hogwarts Express, used during the more than 10 years of filming.

All aboard!

All aboard!

Visitors to the tour can also sample authentic Butterbeer, which was surprisingly delicious.

Butterbeer!

Butterbeer!

Even though the studio was kind of a trek from London, including multiple trains and a shuttle bus, it was really fun to see fans come from all over the world to learn the backstory of the movies.

Later that night, we also got a chance to check out the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” musical, which is now playing at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane, a stunning space that has also been called one of the world’s most haunted theaters.

Photos weren’t allowed, but we really enjoyed the show, which managed to make an imaginary chocolate world seem tangible.

TEXAS TIE: Since our visit to Madame Tussauds, our 3-year-old has been going up to strangers, pointing in their faces and asking if they’re real. It can get awkward. But another memorable experience from our visit to the museum was getting to go behind the scenes with Beyonce. In addition to featuring the ultra-famous Texan in its lineup, the museum also uses her to explain its figure-building process using videos, molds and other actual artifacts from when her figure was created. It was fun to see a Texas girl featured so prominently at the popular museum.

I’ll be blogging about our adventures daily here as well as updating on Instagram and Twitter, @kristinfinan. Next on the agenda is finding a great spot for Indian food. Have restaurant suggestions? Let me know at kfinan@statesman.com.


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