Fact 3: This is intended to be a joyful post. Hope you enjoy it as much as I have! I already know I will use Hermione‘s time-turner to return here, over and over again.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows release (part 1)
Last week, I wrote about my friends, and the important part they play in my life.
|Junior’s [elaborate] 6th birthday party:
Young wizards find their wands in Diagon Alley…
|Maman et Junior about to board the Hogwarts Express
Harry Potter World, Universal Studios, Orlando, FL
|2010: A black car (witch?) is christened “Tonks”
A young 4th grader celebrates reading all the books in the series
|Even the Duchess of Cambridge is a fan.
Do you think she will read Harry’s adventures to young Prince George in a few years?
|About to become famous, and very, very wealthy:
Hermione (Emma Watson,) Harry (Daniel Radcliffe,) Ron (Rupert Grint)
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001)
|Three [still young] actors, impersonating their 40-year old characters
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, part 2 (2011)
A literary and cinematic legend was born. Thank goodness.
|Dobbie, the free elf.
Drives you crazy, and often gets you in trouble,
but he will give his life for you if he has to.
|Hagrid, the semi-giant…
because everyone needs a sensitive, bear hug-loving friend
|Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis,) the other orphan.
The hero with a noble heart nobody (not even Lord Voldermort) saw coming…
|When Neville the underdog gets mad…
One of the most satisfying moments in the last installment.
I confess to a soft spot for the next gentleman. I liked his character in the books and suspected there was more to Professor Snape than met the eye. I liked him even better when talented Alan Rickman became Harry‘s foe in the movie series. Rickman, like so many classically-trained actors in the saga, was perfectly cast and added depth and complexity to a tragic character. I cried when Snape died. I cried again when Harry discovered who Snape really was.
|This one lives in my neck of the woods (and I don’t think he drinks butterbeer…)|
Warning: Lots of photos coming up. For fans’ and wizard eyes only!
The most surprising thing during the visit is probably the sheer size of the sets. I found myself immersed in the Harry Potter world. I had a real case of déjà vu, and for good reason: They were exactly the ones featured on the big screen for ten years.
|The cupboard under the stairs…|
|I walked the Great Hall of Hogwarts!|
|Gryffindor Common Room: So many details!|
|The Potions Classroom: Once again, details, details!|
|Inside the Burrows: I watched Molly Weasley’s sweater “knit” itself…|
|Dolores Umbridge’s office (complete with animated Kitty plates)|
How about a walk up Diagon Alley? Only Hagrid was missing…
|17,000 wand boxes inside Olivander’s are hand-labeled.
The 4,000 people who worked on the movies for 10 years are mentioned on some of them
The outdoor sets weren’t forgotten…
|Is Butterbeer allowed on the Knight bus?|
|A peaceful little street… not!|
It was artifact and prop galore! I did not know where to look. I did not know what to capture with my faithful Lumix LX5. It was overwhelming.
|The moving marble staircase… They actually built a full-size one!|
|The Chamber of Secrets door… I almost expected the snakes to start sliding around…|
|Recognize this? (and to the right, the hidden entrance to Dumbledore’s office)|
|I remember all the scenes shot on this bridge at Hogwarts, don’t you?|
|Beaucoup de props!|
|The Yule Ball ice structure|
The tour reflects the high degree of professionalism and attention to detail that helped make the Harry Potter films into the most successful movie franchise ever. It was as if Warner Bros had wanted to thank all the fans for their support over the years. Visitors are allowed to look at everything; and try everything (including a broom flying lesson – Let me just say I will never look at a Quidditch match the same way ever again.) There were signs and placards all over the lots to explain and detail the process of film making. I was fascinated.
|Interesting facts about the animal actors…|
|Five different dogs played Fang. Who knew?|
La pièce de résistance, at the end of the tour: a giant, 1/24 scale model of Hogwarts. It took over 50 sculptors, painters and other artists to build, and was used for many outdoor shots of the castle. It stands in the dark, in the middle of a large room, lit up by 300 fiber optic lights. Perfectly hand-sculpted to scale. Impressive… and magical. It was the perfect way to wrap up this memorable visit.
I will leave le mot de la fin (the final word) to Jo Rowling and Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore.