Today was magical – literally and figuratively!
We started out by deciding to jump on a bus for the first time in London – and our first time on a city bus period! We did well though – we navigated our way to Hyde Park and decided to try another mode of transportation – bikes! London has a bus rental system that allows you to rent a bike all over the city for £2 for 24 hours. Fabulous! We’d seen them all over but I wasn’t comfortable riding them in the streets. When we got to the park, it was Game On! We rode all over Hyde Park – certainly the best way to see such a huge piece of land. We had such a great time seeing the park that way – it was a highlight of the trip for sure.
Next up was Harrod’s – a necessity of any trip to London. On the way, we stopped and chatted with the guard at One Hyde Park, an ultra exclusive residence high rise – made up of super fancy flats – upwards of £30-200 million. Wow!
When we got to Harrod’s, Shane got to see the Food Halls and we managed to find the gift shop. It was lovely – and crowded – but our favorite part of Harrod’s was the ice cream shop right outside of the Harrod’s Shop. It was a classic parlor, complete with smartly dressed ice cream “jerks” and really, really tasty ice cream. It was pricey (£14 for a sundae) but really, aren’t you paying for the experience? It was absolutely fantastic. Yum!
When we left Harrod’s, we got turned around looking for our bus to Euston station so after wandering around a lot, we decided to engaged yet another form of transportation – a black cab! It was so worth the £15 to have the experience and the easy transport.
Euston Station was our launch pad into the magical world of Harry Potter! We hopped on the Overground train and rode the milk run to Watford Junction. The train was nice and easy and finding the bus was too – it was the one plastered with Harry Potter all over it! We joined the queue of fans looking like they were headed to a book movie release and rode the Knight Bus for about 10 minutes before we arrived at the World of Harry Potter!
I’ve been a lot of places, including Disney, and I have to say, Harry Potter was something all of its own. It’s so well done, so well thought out, so well configured, we were amazed. Just to give you an idea of how amazed we were, we arrived at 3:00 and caught the 8:59 train back to London.
After a quick snack at the cafe, we headed into the World of Harry Potter. It starts with a glimpse into the cupboard under the stairs – so cool – then leads into a quick refresher of all 8 films and a welcome from Harry, Ron, and Hermione before the dramatic opening of the doors to Hogwarts.
The Great Hall was fantastic, but so was everything else. There were guides scattered throughout to give helpful and interesting commentary, and sets and props to entertain for hours. When I say that we were amazed, I’m not exaggerating. The attention to detail paid by the film creators was astounding. When you read books and then see the movies, it’s almost always disappointing – Harry Potter included. What’s unfortunate is that if viewers could see the intricacy of the sets and props, we probably wouldn’t feel that way. They truly missed nothing.
Halfway through is the backlot, home to the Knight Bus, bridge, chess pieces, and butterbeer stand. I’ve heard it’s awesome in Florida…I wouldn’t say this was awesome, but it was palatable 🙂 Shane thinks it’s cream soda with thick whipped cream on top.
The rest was the backbone of the operation – the “how to” of the films. The way the sets were created, the costumes and prosthetic pieces, the creatures, etc. It’s capped with an amazing model of Hogwarts that was used for exterior shots in all 8 movies, restored after the battle for the exhibit. It’s probably It’s definitely a highlight.
After racing to our train, we caught an express back to Euston and took our happy and sleepy selves back home (after a quick stop at M&S of course!). It was a magical day for sure!