Include something familiar and fun in your family travel. It helps with culture shock as well as travel fatigue.
International travel can be awe-inspiring as well as eye-opening. I should know. We just got BACK from our month-long tour of France with stops in London at each end.
Yes, I know. Surprise! While I trust YOU with my life, I decided that the internets didn’t need to know that my house was empty for a month, so we kept our absence under wraps. And now what stories we have to tell! (More on that soon.)
While my kids experienced all kinds of surprises and new adventures, one of the highlights of our trip was a visit to something that was actually quite familiar. I had read in Europe through the Back Door that a helpful cure for culture shock is to indulge yourself with things you know.
Our visit to Hogwarts was just the ticket to put my kids at ease while they acclimated themselves to the hustle and bustle of a large international city.
A review of the Harry Potter – Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Leavesden, England
On our recent trip to London, we had the opportunity to see behind the scenes of our favorite stories at The Making of Harry Potter, a Warner Brothers Studio Tour. I received a handful of press passes, thanks to the graciousness of Warner Brothers studios, but know that all opinions are my own. The day wasn’t a freebie as there were extra tickets to buy as well as transportation and meals to allow for, so we are super thankful for those passes.
Our family loves to watch movies together, particularly those of British origin. I would say that our two brief sojourns in London have solidified us as anglophiles.
One of our favorite film series is the Harry Potter movies, though the books are better. In the early years of Pottermania, I rejected the books, but about six years ago, had a change of heart and realized how faith-filled and Jesus-saturated they are. They now rank high on our list of family favorites. For my rationale on these books, go here.
The books and the film are near and dear to our hearts, so we were pretty thrilled to have an opportunity to go on the tour.
I grew up going on the Universal Studios Tour in Studio City as a child. Family passes were cheap back in those days before it became a major amusement park with all the extra shows and rides. Back then, it was mostly a glimpse into behind-the-scenes movie magic. That was always so much fun, especially since I was — and am– a movie lover.
The Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Leavesden, England surpassed my expectations. It was extremely well done, with an immaculate facility, courteous staff, great food, and amazing displays of movie magic. Since all the Harry Potter films were filmed here, the movie makers have curated the original sets and props and put them in a wonderful exhibit that truly transports you to Hogwarts.
The butter beer is pretty amazing, too. I’m going to try to make some for Halloween using this recipe.
Some of what you’ll see on the tour:
- A short film about how the producers and screen writers “discovered” the story and created the films.
- the door to the Great Hall
- the Great Hall itself
- Snape’s potions classroom
- The Griffindor common room
- Harry and Ron’s bedroom at Hogwarts
- Hagrid’s hut
- Dumbledores office
- The griffin stairwell to Dumbledores rooms
- The shops of Diagon Alley
- The burrow
- The Night Bus
- The Potters’ Blown-up Home
- The Dursleys’ Home
- The Hogwarts Bridge
- Special props including the pensive, the Mirror of Eriset, the golden egg and Triwizard cup, the Horcruxes, a remembrall, a time turner, and more.
My gasp moment came when we walked down the real Diagon Alley. I don’t have a great picture of the walkway, but it was just like being transported into the movie.
The Warner Brothers Studio is located in a suburb of London, so it does take awhile to get out there and back. Our Harry Potter day was basically a day in itself, but it was worth it. The kids considered it a highlight of our trip. I’m really glad we did it at the beginning of our journey when we were fresh and energetic.
Seeing the original sets and the short films created to enhance the tour only increased our affection for the stories. It’s on our list of reentry activities to watch all the movies again. We might just start on Halloween!
This is part of the Travel with Kids series. Every day in October, I’m posting tips, tricks, and tutorials for making all your travels fun, frugal, and family-friendly.
Be sure to read through the archives in case you missed a post.