So we're off on Leg 8 of our European Roadtrip....!! Starting our whistle-stop tour of England & Wales with a trip to Warner Bros Harry Potter Tour in London after our road schooling journey had been featured in the Sunday Newspapers over the weekend.
So with thoughts flying around the van in recent days regarding our 'Top 10 Roadschooling Experiences across Europe' we've had plenty of time to consider what makes a great family experience but could it also offer a brilliant creative writing opportunity.... How would the Harry Potter Tour fare...?
Well for starters, there's always the price to consider and at almost £100 for the visit, it's perhaps prohibitively priced for some families, yet for others it might be a price worth paying? The jury is out for us, with a 2:2 split in our family. With perhaps an overall conclusion that it's not cheap but probably worth a one-off visit! But places like Futuroscope perhaps offered more for less (Poitiers, France) but without the Harry Potter link?
Location wise, a regular bus service runs to the Leavesden Studios and there's plenty of parking on a cold, wintry January morning... but we reckon it might be another story in the height of summer! Either way, it's really clearly signposted and the main entrance is well staffed, and leads to a fantastic visual experience as you enter!
There's a sense of purpose throughout the whole tour as you start your journey in perhaps the most iconic setting... striding through the Great Hall with it's tables laid for yet another Hogwarts banquet... An impressive first impression, but made even better by the hi-tech audio guides! Worth every penny extra even if it was on top of the price of admission... they offer a useful commentary but also offer small videos after you've visited each place - the Potions Classroom, Harry Potter's Dormitory or Dumbledore's study etc
The array of Harry Potter sets was breath taking and we were genuinely staggered by the creative and inventive methods used behind the scenes... the small side stories told by the key actors of Harry, Hermione & Ron (Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson & Rupert Grint) make all the difference as they offer a really personal account of the studios. Studios where they clearly loved spending what amounted to almost 10yrs of their lives...
The key reason for our visit was to provide the girls with an alternative way to stimulate creative writing... not simply writing frames, flow diagrams or word banks... but a chance to sit in front of utterly magical models of Hogwarts and ponder the question..
'Has the Harry Potter Series of Movies met, exceeded or fallen short of JK Rowling's intended visions for Hogwarts as she wrote her books?'
Can a film ever meet the imaginations within... ? Well we tasked the girls with considering how they would have written a short story about a visiting wizard in need of Dumbledore's help but one who also holds a terrible secret about Hogwarts? We asked them to dream up 5 amazing inventions to add to the story, 3 basic plot ideas and 1 amazing finale!! It'll be a short project that should engage the minds of everyone in the van as we head towards Exeter tomorrow, before heading north towards York & Durham..
So perhaps the jury will have to stay out until we sit down and read their final masterpieces... but we can at least say that we were impressed with the Harry Potter tour and it's array of internal and external sets... and we hope both girls would say the same too... it's just they can't answer as they're heads down in their books scribbling away for all their worth!!! (Let's hope it's as successful as our Autumnal Poems for the National Poetry Day in Alsace, France)
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