Warner Brother’s Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter

If you call yourself a fan of the Harry Potter movies, you just cannot not go at least once in your life to the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour: The Making of Harry Potter. So me, being a MASSIVE fan, I just had to go, and last week was finally the day., My friend and I went on a citytrip to London for four days, and one day of those four, we went to visit these amazing studios.

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These studios are the actual studios where all eight Harry Potter movies were shot. It’s in Leavesden, which is about one hour out of London. During this tour, you get to see so many sets and props from all movies and you get to know many secrets about filming and behind the scenes information. It’s just all so magical.

Because I know many people still want to go visit these studios, I won’t be posting a lot of pictures from the actual tour, apart from some well known things that are present there. I’ll just describe most of it so you can still have the same magical experiece I had.

Entrance to the studios!

We went from London (Euston station) to Leavesden by train, which is really, really easy and doesn’t cost much. You can pay by Oyster Card and it’s about 10 pounds both way. Then in Watford Junction a shuttle bus will take you to the studios for 2 pound both way.

The other option is to take the couches of Golden Tours. They’ll take you from London (Victoria) to the studios in one go, but are of course a bit more expensive. You are also restricted to their timing and only have about three hours to spend in the studios. But you do get to travel in a really amazing Harry Potter bus.

I really advice going by train because then you’re free to spend as much time in the studios (and the shop) as you’d like. We spend over four hours in the studios and the shop together, so the couches wouldn’t have been a good option for us.

When you go by train, you still have to book your ticket to the studios in advance. Careful; you HAVE to book them online as you can’t buy tickets at the entrace. When you go by couch, your entrance fee is already included in the price.

The Harry Potter Studios Shuttle Bus

The Harry Potter Studios Shuttle Bus

 

Make sure to arrive in time for the tour, as you can only enter between the time you’ve selected and 30 minutes after that. We arrived at the studios about two hours before we were allowed in (we didn’t want to take any risks with the train and bus combo), but the large merchandise shop was enough to help us through the waiting time. We both had already checked the online shop of Warner Brothers Studios so we already had an idea of what we wanted to buy. If you really want to buy something, it’s a good idea to check beforehand what they have and give yourself a budget, because otherwize you’ll go home broke. (Yes, it’s that awesome!) I spend about 60 pounds in that shop and that was a great success. If you do buy your merch first, you can leave it at the cloak room, free of charge.

Then the wait was finally over, and we could start queuing to enter. First you are shown a video and then the actual visit starts. The tour itself already provides a lot of side information, but if you want to know even more, you can get an audio guide with extra clips and pictures for 4.95 pounds. As we wanted the full experience, we of course got one of those. If you get one as well, I advice to listen to a few numbers of the audio guide at once and then to go look at the sets and props itself. We tried to combine both and it was just a bit too much. Also, don’t worry if the battery of your audio guide suddenly dies. Just go up to the staff and they’ll bring you a new one right away. Excellent service!

In the first hall of the studios, you mainly get the see the Great Hall, the boy’s dormitories, Gryffindor’s Common Room, Dumbeldore’s Office, the Potions classroom, the Burrow, Hagrid’s hut, Malfoy’s Mansion, The Ministry of Magic and many props and costumes. You also have the opportunity to fly a broomstick or fly the Weasley’s car. You can buy pictures from both of those, and even buy a video of you flying the broomstick. It’s awesome, but unfortunately quite pricey.

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After the first hall, you enter -surprise- another hall where you can admire the Hogwarts Express. This train has only been added to the tour a couple of months ago and I must admit that it definitely makes the tour a lot better. It’s such a beautiful prop and such a significant part of the movie. I simply loved it. You can also get a picture taken of you going thought the wall at platform 9 3/4.

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Halfway through the tour, there is a cafetaria which sells all kinds of food and more importantly butterbeer! It’s a really weird taste, but surprisingly good. Definitely try it! You can already get a taste for 2,95 pounds, but if you’re willing to pay a bit more you can get a souvenir cup for 4,95 pounds. There is also a tankard, which costs 5,95 pounds.

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After having finished the butterbeer, we continued towards the outside sets, which features 4 Privet Drive, Harry’s parent’s house, the Hogwarts bridge and the Knightbus. All so lovely!

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In the last hall, you get to see how the special creatures and animals were made. It’s all really impressive and I simply can’t believe how much time it must have cost to make all those props. They’ve put so much thought in all the details, it’s astonishing. I’m mindblown, honestly.

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The next stop is Diagon Alley, where you can admire Gringotts, Olivander’s Madame Malkins, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes and much more!

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And last, but not least; Hogwart’s Castle. It’s so hard to describe this masterpiece. You just have to go see it for yourself. Even pictures don’t do it any justice.

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At the end of the tour, you arrive in the shop, so if you didn’t have time before the tour, you can still buy all you want afterwards.

Anyway, it was one of the most magical days I’ve ever had and I can’t only say; if you’re a fan of Harry Potter; GO! You won’t regret it!

Next up – if I actually get to it- is some info about my citytrip to London itself.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

Pairi Daiza

Yesterday, my family and I hopped in the car and headed for Brugelette (Belgium) to the park/zoo that has been crowned as best in Belgium in 2014; Pairi Daiza. 

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As I had such an amazing day, I really wanted to share my experiences and pictures (unfortuntaly phone quality) with you all in case anyone’s looking for a lovely family day out in Belgium.

The highlight of this zoo is most definitely the giant pandas. They have found their home in Pairi Daiza only about a year ago and are really rare as there are only about 1600 alive in the wild as of today. One thing is certain there are just so damn adorable and huggable. If I could have gotten away with it, I’d have brought one home.

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My second favorite part of this park are the lemurs. They aren’t in a cage, so if you arrive at a good time and they aren’t inside their house, you’re surrounded by them. They just jump around and before you know it, one it on your shoulder. You can pet them and really have a close-up view. (Their paws are just the cutest!)

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Another mention is definitely for the giraffes. I’ve already seen many giraffes in different parks, but in Pairi Daiza they’ve made a sort of platform up in a tree so you can get really really close to the giraffes. If you’re lucky you can even pet them. Or get photobommed.

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Aside from those lovely animals, you can also spot elephants, hippos, rhinos, white tigers, zebras, many reptiles, birds and fishes. There’s definitely something for everyone. You can even go into a bat cave, which is freakingly scary!

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And even if you don’t like animals, Pairi Daiza is worth a visit. The park is just so, so, so beautiful. They’ve worked with different worlds and they really give you the feeling that you’re actually in that part of the world. Especially the new part, Asia (where the pandas live) is breathtakingly beautiful.

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I’m definitely going back one day, because even now they’re still expanding the park. The white tigers are getting a new home soon. This park is also a definite recommendation for families with young children.

For more information, you can always consult their website here.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

 

 

‘Love Rosie’

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What is this movie about?

Rosie and Alex have been best friends since they were 5, so they couldn’t possibly be right for one another…or could they? When it comes to love, life and making the right choices, these two are their own worst enemies.

Director: Christian Ditter
Cast: Lily Collins, Sam Claflin
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Duration: 102 min

My rating? 4,5/5

What I thought of it?

I know, I know, I’m incredibly late with this review. But I was also incredibly late to watch this movie. it’s been on my list forever but I never got around to watching it. Until today; finally.

From the trailer, I had already sensed that there would be quite a bit of differences between the movie and the book. And indeed, they did change quite a few things, but I can only imagine how hard it is to make such a lenghty story into a movie. So in my opinion they did a splendid job on this one. It’s still the same clichéd story, but it’s still such an amazing cliché to watch unfold.

I laughed, I cried and god, I lost the count of how many times my heart broke over the course of this movie. The chemistry between Sam Claflin and Lily Collins was just sparkling. I’ve been a big fan of Sam (and his looks, hehe) for a while now and I loved seeing him in this picture. There wasn’t any mind-blowing acting, but this kind of movie doesn’t really require it. This is just a feel-good movie that’s perfect for a girls-night in. Sam and Lily give you the romance, while Jaime Winstone takes care of the comedy part. She’s simply perfect as Ruby and I just want to adopt her as my friend.

Anyway, not much more to say then that it’s the perfect romcom to watch on a Saturday night in. Those who loved the book will probably love the movie as well, so hurry and go watch it! Oh, and make sure you are prepared for Sam’s British accent because HOT DAMN.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

‘The Longest Ride’ – Nicholas Sparks

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What is this book about?

Ira Levinson is in trouble. At ninety-one years old, in poor health and alone in the world, he finds himself stranded on an isolated embankment after a car crash. Suffering multiple injuries, he struggles to retain consciousness until a blurry image materializes and comes into focus beside him: his beloved wife Ruth, who passed away nine years ago. Urging him to hang on, she forces him to remain alert by recounting the stories of their lifetime together.

A few miles away, at a local rodeo, a Wake Forest College senior’s life is about to change. Recovering from a recent break-up, Sophia Danko meets a young cowboy named Luke, who bears little resemblance to the privileged frat boys she has encountered at school. Through Luke, Sophia is introduced to a world in which the stakes of survival and success, ruin and reward — even life and death – loom large in everyday life.

Ira and Ruth. Sophia and Luke. Two couples who have little in common, and who are separated by years and experience. Yet their lives will converge with unexpected poignancy, reminding us all that even the most difficult decisions can yield extraordinary journeys: beyond despair, beyond death, to the farthest reaches of the human heart.

GenreRomance
Pages: 398
Released: September 17th, 2013

My rating: 4/5

What I thought of it?

A friend of mine recommended me this book quite a while ago, but other than adding it to my endless pile of ‘to read’ books, I didn’t really think about it any further. It wasn’t until I noticed the trailer of the on-screen version that my interest was peaked again. I’ve always loved Nicholas Sparks so with the movie coming out soon, I put this book on top of my pile.

Even though the story was somewhat predictable, I still really, really liked this book. What can I say, I’m a mush for romance. And this book has plenty of it. It was also such a touching story, and throughout the entire thing, I just wanted to reach out and hug Ira. I don’t think anyone can stay emotionless while reading about Ira’s feelings towards his wife.

I admit though that at first I was more interested in Luke and Sophia’s story, but I guess that was just because we weren’t 100% sure how their relationship was going to turn out and because they were my age throughout the entire story. Nonetheless, in the end I must say that Ira is by far my favorite character. I loved all the other characters as well, but Ira just stood out for his kind nature and his unconditional love for his wife.

The reason I only gave this book a four star rating is because I wasn’t very fond of the switch between the two stories. Whenever one story went back to the other I wanted to just continue the other one as it often ended with some sort of cliffhanger. It often felt like a struggle to get back into the other story as for most of the book the two stories are completely seperate from one another. It sort of seemed like I was reading two books a the same time.

But still, I loved this book and anyone who loves Nicholas Sparks will find his usual style back in this one. I definitely can’t wait to see what they made of the movie.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen

 

Cinderella

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What is this movie about?

When her father unexpectedly passes away, young Ella finds herself at the mercy of her cruel stepmother and her daughters. Never one to give up hope, Ella’s fortunes begin to change after meeting a dashing stranger.

Director: Kenneth Branagh
Cast: Lily James, Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett
Genre: Drama, Family, Fantasy
Duration: 105 min

My rating? 4,5/5

What I thought of it?

As a massive Disney fan (who isn’t though?), I just had to see this new version of the classic story of Cinderella. So far I’ve loved all the new versions of the Disney classics they’ve made the past few years, so it was with high expectations I went to the movies last weekend.

And I certainly wasn’t disappointed. While this movie is obviously more for children than the other Disney remakes, it’s also has a great appeal for adults with the many great “inside” jokes. It also has so many really similar scenes to the original movie that it brought back so many childhood memories. Loved it!

The acting was also quite phenomenal. This is the first time I’ve (conciously) seen Lily James play, but I loved every bit of her. She was a perfect portrayal of Cinderella. The only thing that disappointed me a bit was Cate Blanchett as the stepmother. Not for her performance – because that was at times really good as well – but because I just couldn’t see her in a role of a villan. And then last but definitely not least; Helena Bonham Carter. Damn. Could she be any more awesome? A really amazing twist to cast her as the fairy godmother. I adored her in this role.

And definitely a great freaking thumbs up to the costume designer for this movie as they were simply marvelling! Exactly as I imagined them to be. I’m still in awe. The sceneries as well were breathtaking. So when it comes to the visuals, this movie is just A++++++.

And just one more thing; tight. white. pants. Hehe.

So you all better go watch this movie as soon as possible. Every lover of Disney will simply adore this remake.

Until next time,

With love, Ellen