The Seattle based Museum of Pop Culture (MPC or MoPOC) which is dedicated as implied by its name to celebrate pop culture has removed all exhibitions of English author J.K Rowling from its Harry Potter exhibition in light of her alleged "transphobic views."
Fortunately for me, I happened to fly from Delhi with Virgin
Atlantic at a time when it is celebrating 25 years of entertainment and for
those who do not know Virgin is the first airline to introduce inflight
entertainment, hence this year they are celebrating it with a season of
In the build-up to being the official airline of the new
Harry Potter film aka Fantastic Beasts and where to find them obviously there
were some Harry Potter films to watch and I certainly made the most of it in my
premium economy seat. I was equally charged up and excited to be attending a
red carpet premiere at the London Film Festival of “Queen of Katwe”,
a new Disney movie and attending the Festival’s Gala ball. I have been to
London several times before but never to the Harry Potter studio…this time my
mind was made…I simply had to check it
The studio tour
Most general way to reach the studio is by a taxi, but I
would recommend taking the bus transport with Warner Bros, which needs to be
booked in advance. On reaching of course, you will find a queue, because it
wouldn’t be a Harry Potter attraction without a line up (this being one of the
world’s most famous film franchises after all). Time spent in the entry queue
passes very quickly as there is plenty to look at counting the flying car from
Chamber of Secrets, which is suspended from the ceiling and the “cupboard
under the stairs”, where Harry was at the Dursley’s in Philosopher’s
Then came the fun
part. Once we had watched a quick film, we were led into a screening area for
another, longer film featuring the key cast members aka Harry, Ron and Hermione
as we all know them. This just builds your anticipation even further and I felt
like a little child all excited!! Soon thereafter, we were in the Great Hall.
Here I could see where they squeezed 400 cast members in to film the Great Hall
scenes; I loved looking at the original costumes and even found out some fun
trivia like the fact that they had to sew the children’s pockets to avert them
from niggling in sweets when filming scenes…cutely adorable isn’t it?
Next, I walked around
a diversity of dissimilar interactive displays and information in abundance. I
don’t want to give too much away because you’ll be more excited to discover it
for yourself, but let me just say there is almost nothing you won’t know about
Harry Potter when you walk away from the experience.
Of course, you will
see concoctions class, the Triwizard cup, the Philosopher’s Stone, and lots
more. The green screen rooms are great to experience, where one can get a fun
picture snapped on a broomstick or in the flying car. Of course, you need to
hand over some pounds to essentially walk away with the picture, else if you
could try casting a spell over the cashier attendant. Then, there’s a
well-deserved break in The Back Lot, where I stood at Privet Drive, saw the
Night Bus, and the Hogwarts Bridge. Here I also found a large cafe and an
opportunity to sit down with my Butter beer (one of only two places in the
world where it can be purchased).
The Hogwarts model
Refreshed, I continued my exploration of Round 2. The rest
of the tour features more of the sets and costumes. At the end of the tour, we
were treated to a 360 degree view of the star of the show ~ the model of
Hogwarts crafted by talented hands was built on 1:24 scale by a large team of
artists and squad members and was captured and heightened with digital special
effects to generate accurate images of the school for the movies. At this point
I got a bit emotional; trust me walking around the model can be an verwhelming
experience for diehard Harry Potter fans.
I was at the Studio Shop located in the lobby as I exited.
Every conceivable Harry Potter souvenir was available in the shop, including
sweet treats like Chocolate Frogs and Bernie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans,
replica wands, robes, glasses, souvenir t-shirts and lots more. An interactive
green screen experience in the shop also allowed me the opportunity to appear
on pages of The Quibbler and the Daily Prophet or as a suspect on an Azkaban
Prison wanted poster. As for me I was all ready to buy all the Gryffindor
goodies my pounds could buy and live out of my fantasy of receiving a letter of
acceptance by the owl.
Best way to reach: Fly Virgin Atlantic premium economy,
which can give any Business class a run for its money with world class
amenities and service at affordable rates and terrific timings and yes, a great
Best place to stay: Sheltered by an eight storey vertical
garden, The Athenaeum is a family owned luxury hotel in an art deco building is
a few minutes’ walk from Buckingham Palace and bang opposite Green Park.
By Rupali Dean