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Letters From Hogwarts: My Visit to The Making of Harry Potter

February 28, 2014
by CEA CAPA Content Creator
 At this point, I was shaking

It might have been nine years late, but this semester, I got my letter to Hogwarts! Everything about it was magical (if you have to ask if that pun was intend): the shuttle ride there, the sign outside that said “The Making of Harry Potter,” the Starbucks inside (I’m only half kidding), the gift shop (a.k.a. how to spend all of your money before your study abroad trip even begins), the Great Hall, the hidden snitches, the triple-decker bus, the BUTTERBEER, the insane animatronics that you would not have known about if not for this tour (Hagrid is only half real), the trip down Diagon Alley, Hogwarts itself… (Is this entire post going to be a list?) 
The Set
The tour begins in the Great Hall: a grand entrance to an even grander experience. I shoved past the other tourists (What? It’s Harry Potter) in order to get a shot that wasn't tainted by people. Success. Of course, the rest of my family wasn’t as keen to push and shove, so I had to (im)patiently wait for them to catch up with me.

Once our guide finished her spiel, we were free to roam around the massive warehouses and outdoor area that made up this incredible museum. The first thing that caught my eye was the Gryffindor boy’s dormitory (fun fact: they used the same beds since the boys were eleven, meaning that it took some clever camera angles to avoid the boys looking like giants).

Next was Dumbledore’s office, which was filled with portraits of “famous wizards” (crew members – all of the paintings were made specifically for the franchise and were modeled after members of the crew). Everywhere you looked was a familiar set – from Professor Umbridge’s office (So. Much. Pink.) to the Potions Room (all handmade). Just when you thought you had seen it all...
I'd say guess the bed, but the "R.W." gives it away...
 The Great Hall
The Props
Ever wanted to ride a broomstick? Well you can here! Heck, you can ride that Nimbus 5000 all the way to Hogwarts with the magic of a green screen. (And for a “small” price, you can take that video home with you). And if you were curious as to how tall those chess pieces were, the answer is extremely! You can see the bigger props such as the Knight Bus or smaller pieces like the thousands of wands used throughout the series (all of the boxes in Ollivander’s throughout the movies had real, handmade wands in them). Each prop has its own story.
 Look for the shrunken head
The Magic
When I said this tour was magical, I wasn’t just trying to make a pun – it is literally magical (special effects magical, but still). You can watch the dishes clean themselves at the Weasley’s or watch Voldemort’s baby-sized body gasp for air (very creepy) all while learning about other behind-the-scenes secrets. You can even say hello to Buckbeak (remember to bow first!) and Dobby, and discover that Dementors were worn as backpacks (not a joke). 

But nothing was as magical as the actual Hogwarts. Although not as big as in the movies, it will captivate you. The room is specially designed to give you 360 degree views of the famous school/castle that I always dreamed of attending. Overall, The Making of Harry Potter is an unforgettable experience (so was that vomit-flavored Bertie Botts Every Flavor Jelly Bean, but in a different sense of the word “unforgettable”).    
  Creepy, right?                                                           Hogwarts in all its glory

Karly Sandsmark is the Spring 2014 CEA MOJO in London. She is a junior at Colorado State University.  

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