Yesterday I was fortunate enough to experience the Making Of Harry Potter tour at Warner Bros Studios. It took me back to how I first discovered the books, and how important they became to me. When Harry Potter & The Philosopher’s Stone (book) was released in 1997 I was ten years old. I was prime Harry Potter audience. I didn’t discover the books until two years later when Prisoner Of Azkaban was released and my parents bought me the books as a trilogy boxset. It was the first set of books to grab me since the likes of C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien had done years earlier. In the space of our two week holiday in France that year I read all three books, and started again on Azkaban which still holds dominion as being my favourite. I was amazed you could have a literary hero who was a geeky teenager in glasses. That’s the role I filled in my family, and there was a tiny bit of me that awaited my Hogwarts letter upon our return home to England. It never arrived and I slowly grew up alongside the books. I went to a midnight opening to get a copy of Deathly Hallows. Since then Harry Potter got sidelined by any number of other pursuits. I had almost forgotten how important the books had been to my teenage years, and the subconscious effect they had on me as a fledgling writer. Luckily for me, there was time to rediscover. On Friday it was my birthday. I turned 26. As part of the league of presents I received my wonderful Gryffindor girlfriend got us tickets for the studio tour. Knowing I was going beforehand (because she can’t keep secrets) we had spent the last couple of weekends watching the films with her brother and his girlfriend Stacy who is the go to girl for all things Potter in my eyes. I also started re-reading the books. This meant by the time we got to Leavesden I was about as giddy as I had been the previous Summer when we went to Disneyland Paris. As soon as you get inside they start the music and the whole experience is absolutely magical. It’s so well constructed and so well organised, and it makes you realise the efforts that went into some of the most important family films of the last twenty years. I won’t say too much else, I just hope the pictures do justice to the marvellous experience.
On the way out you naturally have to walk through the gift shop. I was ready to claim I wasn’t going to buy into the capitalisation of my beloved childhood book series, that I didn’t need any of the branded merchandise they were offering and there was no way I would be fooled. Then I found myself walking out with a t-shirt, a replica wand and a notebook for Kate. It’s an awesome experience for anyone who has been absorbed by the Harry Potter series in the last ten/fifteen years. It’s a fantastic opportunity to geek out and celebrate the wizarding world.