Not London Wed Dec 5 - Day 5

Trip Start Nov 30, 2012
Trip End Jan 31, 2013

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Flag of United Kingdom  , England,
Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Fiona's Comments:
Whilst we are not Harry Potter fans I had booked tickets back in Australia to go to the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour located outside London near Milton Keynes. The kids were excited but wondering why we were going there as none of them have ever really gotten into Harry Potter. Sof has only seen a few of the movies. We got the train and then a Harry Potter bus to the studio. We had a bit of wait to get into the first part of the tour but ended up right at the head of the queue so the kids chatted to the two attendants letting us in. One of them is going to Australia next year to travel and we told them that the day before we left it had been 40 C.

Finally got into the tour and it was incredible. We wandered around for hours. Kids got photos riding broomsticks, I'm in the car with Nik and Bella 'flying', we saw the 'snake' doors (which were not CGI but a fully working mechanical creation), met a few attendants who had been extras in the movies. There was an exhibit and film about the animals used on the movies, the animal trainers, the animals (many of which were from animal rescue shelters). A portrait painter painted all the portraits in the halls at Hogwarts and used production crew as models.The first director, Chris Columbus, talked about the search for directors and how one American director in his proposal suggested that they had cheerleaders at the quidditch games. Columbus described this as just tacky and how important it was that English actors and primarily English crew were in the movies. (Columbus ended up producing subsequent HP films and other films he has directed include the very beautiful Children of Men). There were numerous video interviews with the stage and set directors throughout the tour. There were interviews with the special effects people and how they used propane gas for the flames spewing from the giant dragon models.

In this wonderful world of ours, there are feather specialists - and these people hand sewed all the feathers onto the giant Hippogriff model. A lot of thought and time went into sewing each feather onto the model to be as authentic as possible. The latex model specialists, the designers who created the labels for every jar in the potions room, the people who sourced furniture from a Persian shop in London... The list and obvious love of what everyone was doing went on. We tried butterbeer (the secret recipe of which I cannot reveal), walked along Diagon Alley which was recycled, covered in fake show and became the village they all visited just outside Hogwarts.

The kids have an allocated amount of money they can spend each week and it has been a thing of beauty. They know their budget and are keeping within it so when we went into the HP gift shop there were no requests or discussions about purchasing overly inflated merchandise. We got the HP bus back to the train station (but not without incident). The bus driver wanted to see our return tickets (that cost a total of 2 pounds each). So whilst I went through my bag, he just sat and waited and everyone on the bus watched me go through my bag. Of course I couldn't find them in my Tardis handbag but did unearth old tissues, a set of pencils, a torch, teabags, passports, train tickets, London Experience tickets, postcards, stamps, more tissues, Australian coins, food. You get the picture. He gave up. Halfway through our return bus journey I found the tickets and Bella took them up to him. He just waved her away like 'Go away and don't bother (torment) me.'

Zoran's Comments:

I have to admit that by the third or fourth Harry Potter movie I was over the whole thing and I think my kids were too.  I can't remember how many billions the franchise has raked in for Warner Bros but I do remember that JK didn't want to fight too hard over the movie rights and sold them quite cheaply, about 10 mill or so but that could have been per movie, I just can't remember.  If she had a percentage of gross then that would easily have yielded hundreds of millions.  In any case she is a billionaire from book sales and franchising so I don't she regrets anything.
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