That's right! The post you have all been awaiting with as much anticipation as you could muster- the post about visiting the Harry Potter sets.
We took a train out to the bus stop where the Harry Potter-mobile (and by that I mean a double decker bus that plays the Harry Potter sound track) comes to fetch those wishing to attend Hogwarts. We could tell we were at the right place because there were a surprising number of people wearing wizarding attire, and/or carrying wands. We arrived a bit before our designated tour time, so we hit the gift shop prior to our touring experience.
The gift shop was ridiculously cool- there were owls to be bought (stuffed, of course) and a whole wall designated for various types of Harry Potter candy. You could buy robes, scarves, wands, t-shirts, mugs and even actual movie props (provided you had thousands of dollars you wanted to spend somewhat frivolously). Eventually the teeny boppers overwhelmed us and we vacated the gift shop for greener pastures that involved Starbucks.
The tour begins by walking past the cupboard they used in the first movie for young Harry's bedroom, followed by a brief video presentation by the cast, then walking into the Great Hall.
You guys... I might have gone a little photo crazy. It was just so cool to see the Great Hall exactly like it was in the movies. Is my geek showing?
After the Great Hall there were a myriad of lots featuring everything from wands used in the films to entire sets like the Gryffindor common room and the Burrow.
We even witness a group of children being taught the art of dueling. Which may have been the most adorable thing ever.
The indoor lots eventually give way to the outdoor lots that feature things like the house where Harry's parents were killed... and the all important Butterbeer stand. Butterbeer is SO very tasty. They do something with the foam where they whip it before they pour it, and it is like licking a butterscotch cloud. A cloud that eventually foams over the sides of one's cup and causes one to have sticky shoes... but a cloud none the less.
After the outdoor lots the tour takes you through the special effects area, where you learn how they made things like Dobby and the dragon work. You also see all of the paper modeling they did for the sets before they were built.
and the amazing miniature Hogwarts that they used for the filming. It was breathtaking artistry- and really really big. Really big.
We eventually found our way out and hopped aboard the bus to find our weary way home, wand free but very content with our Hogwarts experience.
Next up... we eat icecream on the airplane. Because first class is ridiculous.