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A breeze ruffled the neat hedges of Privet Drive, which lay silent and tidy under the inky sky, the very last place you would expect astonishing things to happen.
For the first time ever (and for a limited time), the Warner Bros studio tour are opening the doors to Number four Privet drive, home of the Dursley family and where Harry Potter famously spent his childhood. Until now on the studio tour you have only been able to pose outside for photos, but to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the Philosopher’s stone, visitors will get the opportunity to peer inside the Dursley living room and witness the iconic scene when Harry receives his letter to Hogwarts.
As a fan girl who spent her childhood waiting for her letter to Hogwarts, when the invite to the opening night for Privet drive appeared in my inbox I felt like my letter had finally arrived; the press night would mark my fourth visit to the studio tour since it has opened. After eagerly arriving incredibly early we checked in and was presented with smoking orange cocktails while we waited for the tour to begin, after multiple visits I do feel I know the tour pretty well now but I have to say being presented with the Great Hall will never lose its magic, I get goosebumps every time.
After the initial group talk and being asked to congregate at Privet Drive at 8pm, we were left to explore the rest of the tour at our leisure. From Hagrid’s hut to Dolores Umbridge’s office full of cat trinket’s, the Warner Bro studio tour is filled with the original sets, props and clothes from the films we all grew up with. Also on display for the first time, during this limited period, is the pretentious clothes worn by the Dursley family, I loved that as soon as I saw the clothes, without even seeing the sign I knew who they belonged, just a tiny example of the incredible magic the costumer designs brought to life in these films.
As we made our way through the tour, we took part in a wand duel, played Quidditch and even experienced the Dementors on the Hogwarts express.
Also available on the evening was the opportunity to talk to MinaLima, the graphic designers for all eight Harry Potter movies and the create of the iconic letter to Hogwarts, as a former graphic design student I am completely in awe of their wonderful imagination and unreachable talents. Every piece intricately created from newspapers, sweet wrappers and even down to cereal boxes! My personal favourite however is the stunning Yule ball invites.
At 8pm everyone excitedly gathered in the backlot cafe where we were treated to canapés, Butter beer and Butter beer ice cream anticipating the opening. After an introduction from a member of the events team, Fiona Shaw who played Petunia Dursley appeared to lead every one across the red carpet and open the door of her former home.
As everyone patiently queued awaiting their opportunity to enter we were supplied with further canapés and cocktails, luckily (or magically?) the rain decided to hold off during this part. Just like the rest of the tour, stepping into number four Privet Drive was just like stepping into the film set, the wall’s were filled with Dudley’s achievements with not a sign of Harry’s existence apart the from the closed cupboard under the stairs. Opposite the living room littered with Hogwart’s letters desperate for just one to reach Harry, astonishingly 10 000 of these envelopes were created for the first film to create the iconic scene which has become a piece of cinema history.
After lots of photos and refraining myself from quoting Vernon Dursley himself ‘No post on sundays!’, we exited for complimentary photos, a goodie bag and the rest of the tour. When I think of the Harry Potter characters, it is always the wizards I think of, but after the evening I realised the Dursley family are such a brilliant part of the story, so I am glad Warner Bros are highlighting this.
Number four Privet drive as I mentioned is only open for a limited time from Friday 27th May – Monday 6th June, after that its doors will close again. As always with the tour, tickets must be booked in advance so book quickly to avoid disappointment.
Thank you for to the Warner Bros Studio tour for the invite and for reminding everyone that ‘Hogwarts will always be there to welcome us home’