The only reason I've ever wanted to go to London is because of Harry Potter. While at this point I've consumed many more things in British pop culture, especially television, Harry Potter has always been my main reason for interest in the country. So the trip was wonderful mostly because of my own personal dream. While the real reason we went to the UK was for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, one of my favorite parts was the Studio Tour. While it is widely documented at this point that I am a book purist, especially when it comes to Potter, it was great to see all of the props and sets used in the movie, and to see the amount of care put into the Muggle-interpretations of the books, interpretations though they were. I had plenty of moments while I was there - from the excitement at getting to look at the Black Tapestry up close to the grief at seeing the to-scale house that the Potters were murdered in in Godric's Hollow - but my favorite of all was seeing Diagon Alley. While I had been expecting to see those sets both before the tour and when I came into the room that had it, I was ill-prepared for the visceral reaction I had. Turning that corner and seeing the shops (Weasley's Wizard Wheezes whirring around in the background) almost made my heart stop and I made an audible gasp. All I could think was that it was the most magical moment I'd ever had in my life. That was the reason I'd flown 8 hours (plus a 2 hour delay on the tarmac). It's also the reason I can't wait to go back.
This was the third time I have been to London and this time it solidified it's position as my favorite city in the world. I have always been enamored with British culture, especially their entertainment and Harry Potter is a large part of that love. This trip was not only special because being with Bayana meant I was with someone as enthusiastic about Harry Potter as I was but it also meant not feeling guilty for spending six hours at the studio tour instead of the recommended three. Though Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was the catalyst for going, I had always wanted to go to the Studio Tour at Leavesden and it did not disappoint. However, don't believe the marketing it is decidedly NOT in London. There were so many moments that made me genuinely emotional; the entrance to the Great Hall, Diagon Alley and the full scale model of Hogwarts Castle. I was in awe about how many people Harry Potter employed and continues to employ and how happy and excited they were to be apart of it. Also as a big fan of graphic design and stationary I was very happy that the House of MinaLima exhibit was open and we were able to go and see original prints of The Daily Prophet and in depth designs for all the school books and the Weasley's Wizard Wheezes. We also had some great conversations with the employees there who were all Potterheads or lovers of art. Overall, the trip reminded me of how much detail and mastery go into creating the Wizarding World, both in the movies and now the stage play and how important it is to make sure the stories told are worthy of all of that magic.