Wednesday, April 2, 2014

London: Day 3 - Westminster Abbey & Billy Elliot, Day 4 - The Making of Harry Potter

Day 3 - Westminster Abbey & Billy Elliot
We had a free continental breakfast at our hotel before heading off for the day.  It was really nice being able to grab a quick breakfast at our hotel instead of walking around trying to find a place to eat.  We did however accidentally end up in the laundry room of the hotel instead of in the restaurant because the elevator by our room apparently goes straight to the laundry room :).

We stopped by Leicester Square first thing to pick up some discounted tickets for a show.  Jake and I spent several summers going to musicals in Wichita through Wichita Music Theatre so we have seen our fair share of shows which honestly made picking a show kind of difficult.  We didn't want to see something we had already seen.  When I was in London 12 years ago I went to see Phantom of the Opera with my friend Jan.  The rest of our group went to a different show but they didn't have enough tickets so two of us had to go by ourselves.  I really enjoyed Phantom and I had already seen it before but I didn't mind seeing it again in London.  We settled on Billy Elliot.  Our tickets were £26 or $44 cheaper since we bought them the day of the show at the tkts ticket booth.  I would highly recommend doing that if you are ever in London and you don't have a specific show in mind that you want to see.  We had great seats and saved a few bucks.
We walked to Westminster Abbey from Leicester Square.  We stopped at Trafalgar Square which we saw on our bike tour but I didn't take any pictures of it then because it was raining a little bit.
The Blue Rooster is a temporary statue that is changed every year and it was colorful to say the least.
We saw the Horse Guards Parade and we walked past Downing Street where the Prime Minister lives but we weren't able to get very close.

Jake walked by Westminster Abbey when he was in London a few years ago but it was closed by the time he got there.  We decided to take a guided tour of Westminster Abbey which started at 11:00 am. We had about 30 minutes to walk around on our own before our tour started.  We weren't able to take any picture inside since it is a place of worship but we took a few pictures of the outside.

We might have rewatched the royal wedding before going to London to get in the mood and so we could see some of the aerial footage of London and the inside of the Abbey.

After our tour we had lunch at Garfunkels.  I had pie and mash and Jake and fish and chips.  I also had cinnamon waffles with ice cream on it for dessert.  I had been craving waffles for a while and the next day was Waffle Day in Sweden and we were missing it which bummed me out so I thought I would order some for dessert.
We went to the British Museum after lunch.  The British Museum is free and huge!  We knew going into it that we should pick just one or two exhibits instead of trying to see it all.  Even with that plan I struggled.  By this point in our trip I was tired.  My legs and feet were so tired, we were only getting about 6 hour of sleep each night and I was just tired.  The museum was not keeping my attention and I felt like I was sleep walking.  We walked through a few more exhibits including stopping to see the Rosetta Stone.  The Rosetta Stone has writing in hieroglyphics, Demotic and Greek and it gave the first clues about how to decipher Egyptian hieroglyphics.
The top left hand picture is made out of wood and the top right hand picture is a sculpture that reminded us of another sculpture we saw and liked in Washington, D.C.  The Rosetta Stone is in the bottom two pictures.

 We had walked by several coffee shops over the past few days so we decided to stop one called Costa to have a cup of coffee to wake up before going to see Billy Elliot.
I had a caramel latte and Jake had a flat white and loved it!

Billy Elliot was showing at the Victoria Palace Theatre.  The show started at 7:30 pm.  We walked around the area for a little while and grabbed a snack at Pret A Manger before heading into the theatre.
The show was good.  I wouldn't say it was great and I don't think I care to see it again but it was entertaining.  It was about a boy who was supposed to be taking boxing lessons but instead became interested in ballet.  The ticket said not suitable for children under the age of 8 because of the language but there were several times when I found the language to be a bit much.  Jake and I also agreed that none of the songs were that memorable either but it was still a good show and I'm glad we went.

Day 4 - The Making of Harry Potter
Jake and I were both excited to go on the Harry Potter tour.  I first read Harry Potter in my Children's Literature class at K-State.  We were supposed to read the third book and I was not excited about it.  I had heard all about Harry Potter before reading the book and I just wasn't that interested but I really enjoyed the third book.  I then read the first book and possibly the second but then I lost interest.  I don't remember what sparked Jake to start reading them but he read the first one after we were married and then we decided it would be fun to read them at the same time and then watch each movie after we finished the book.  So we did that with all seven books.  We heard about the Making of Harry Potter tour in London while we were in the middle of reading the books and we thought we better finish them before we ever go to London so we can go on the tour.  That was way before the whole "moving to Stockholm" thing came about.

The studio tour is about an hour and 15 minutes outside of London.  We had breakfast, packed up and took a train to Watford Junction where we got on a Harry Potter bus that took us 15 minutes or so to the Warner Brothers Studio.
Our tour started at 10:30 am with a welcome from one of the employees and then a quick 3 minute video about the tour.  Then we moved to a theater where we sat down and watched all 8 Harry Potter movies a 5 minute video showing clips from all of the movies.  Then they raised the screen and had us walk to the front of the theater which put us right in front of the Great Hall doors.
A tour guide told us a few things about the Great Hall.  She said that the floor was made out of real stone since they knew there would be so many people walking on it during filming they wanted it to hold up.  Obviously the magical ceiling wasn't there but they had a scale model of the ceiling hanging up that they used for some shots in the movies.  There were also costumes set up throughout the Great Hall.
The gate, costumes, make-up (including Harry's scar), cauldron, long hallway (that they arranged to make it seem longer than it actually is).
Wands, the Mirror of Erised, Harry's Wand, Harry's Bedroom
Gryffindor Common Room
Gryffindor Common Room
Gryffindor Common Room
The Cloak of Invisibility.  After I saw this it made sense that it would be lined with green material so it could be used as a green screen and they could put whatever images they wanted to on the underneath side or Harry could wear it with the green facing out and then he would blend in to whatever he was around, just like the cloak is supposed to do :).
Potions Room - The number of things they had to find to fill the jars to make the room look full and authentic was ridiculous.  I can't imagine having that job.
Hagrid's Hut
Dumbledore's Office
Dumbledore's Office
The Pensieve and the Sorting Hat
Jake in Dumbledore's Office
The Horcruxes, Sirus Black's Motorbike that Hagrid drives (the bigger one was used to make Harry look small and the smaller one was used to make Hagrid look bigger), the moving staircase and one of the brooms they used for special effects.
The Burrow, aka the Weasley's House, and the clock showing where everyone in the family was at that time.
A few more pictures from the tour including Butterbeer which was actually really good.  It tasted like cream soda with whipped cream/butter with bubbles on the top.   

After grabbing a quick lunch and some Butterbeer we walked around the sets they had outside before heading back inside to finish the rest of the tour.

The next last few rooms on the self guided tour were creature effects, Diagon Alley, the art department and the model room.
Diagon Alley

At the end of the tour they have a really awesome model of Hogwarts that they used for some of the outside shots in the films.
You can kind of tell from this picture how big the scale model was, 1:24, but the picture doesn't even really show you how cool it was.  This was the last part of the tour before you entered the gift shop.

Leading into the gift shop they had a room with wand boxes.  Each box had the name of someone who helped with one of the movies.  And they had lots of merchandise in the gift shop including wands. 
We spent about four and a half hours walking through The Making of Harry Potter tour and it was great.  We both really enjoyed it and would go back to that again if it is still there in the future.  We took the Harry Potter bus back to Watford Junction and then took a train to Clapham Junction to get on another train to Gatwick Airport.  We had plenty of time to get to the airport so we stopped at Clapham Junction and grabbed a coffee and a bite to eat since we would be flying during dinner and wouldn't be eating on the plane.  We tried another coffee shop, Cafe Nero, which was really good.  I had a toasted sandwich, a really good cafe mocha and a chocolate torte.  Jake just had a cappuccino and ended up buying a Cornish pasty (similar to a calzone) after we got to Gatwick.  We got back to Stockholm around 11:30 pm and back to our apartment around 12:30 am.

We had a great time in London!  Hope you enjoyed reading all about our trip.

If you want to read about our first two days you can do that here.


  1. Wow this sounds awesome! As a fellow Harry Potter fan, that looks really cool. Thanks for the thorough photo tour!!

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! We had a great time! Jake and I both talked about how neat it was to walk through the sets and see so much from the movies so close to when the movies came out. It just seems like more popular movies should do this because I think it would be a big hit. I also think someone should build a Hogwarts Castle that people could stay in :).


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