Tag Archives: united kingdom

Hello, Harry Potter!


As I mentioned previously in my English/Paris summer vacation, I paid a visit to the incredible Harry Potter Studio Tour near London, and I took a ridiculous amount of photos so I made it into its own post! I am avid Harry Potter fan, but I will admit, I haven’t read the books. (I’m not a huge fan of books! Sorry!) I think I will tackle them one day, but I do love every single movie in the saga. Alan, on the other hand, actually had never seen the movies or read the books (Brit fail!) so I tried to get in as many of the movies as we could in our free time in the UK before we went. While we didn’t get to finish it, Alan found the tour to be quite impressive even for the non-fan.

The tour has only been open for about 2 years, but it is so insanely popular that bookings must be done online only through their website and bookings fill up incredibly fast. As I was trying to get days off to extend my holiday, I kept having to change plans because every time I went to book, the days I had available were already full!

Upon entrance, you are greeted by three amazing Wizard’s Chess pieces!


The introduction starts with a seat in a small theater, and a short video with Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint addressing fans and then the screen lifts to the entrance of Hogwarts. Every inch of the tour was just as magical as it seemed to be on the screen!

The ceiling is absent because it changes and so is designed with computer graphics.

The ceiling is absent because it changes and so is designed with computer graphics.


Once you left the dining hall, you were free to roam through the tour yourself. It roughly takes about 3 hours!

Some of my most favorite bits were the costumes!


It was amazing to see how the sets looked quite small in comparison to on the big screen.

Boy's dormitory in Griffindor

Boy’s dormitory in Griffindor

Griffindor common room

Griffindor common room

There was also an array of random props and artifacts gathered around.

Collection of wands

Collection of wands


Dumbledore’s office:


Throughout the tour, there were various supplementary video screens full of information and cool secrets. For example, the various moving portraits found throughout the school include some of the crew and staff!


And prop crews found it entertaining alone just trying to fill the mysterious jars and vessels you see in Snape’s potion making classroom.


Chamber of Secrets!


The Weasley home

The Weasley home

Deatheater costumes!

Death Eater costumes!

Various prints and candy boxes – a graphic designer’s dream:


Dolores Umbridge's very pink and very kittied office

Dolores Umbridge’s very pink and very kittied office



Tasting butterbeer and hanging out outside Harry's house!

Tasting butterbeer and hanging out outside Harry’s house!

On display were an amazing array of the various prosthetics and other makeup/masks…


And of course, Diagon Alley itself!



This smaller scale model of Hogwarts is used when filming the building from a distance!


And of course, can’t leave until we find a wand…


Maybe this one?!


Lastly, I was a sucker and hopped on a broom, and YES, I bought the photos… there was a video, but I opted for just the photos. 🙂




Layovers in London


I’ve always had a thing for the British, and I can’t explain it. Some people say, “Oh, it’s because you’re American, they all have a thing for the British.” And of course, the Brits will argue that its because they taught us everything we know. I think it might be the Spice Girls that invaded my childhood to blame or maybe it’sjust those sexy accents (everyone sounds intelligent with a British accent!). Maybe it’s that irresistable Prince Harry.. I do have a thing for gingers…

Our airline flies to both London Gatwick and London Heathrow, and we have many flights a day to both locations. Since I’ve been online, I have been to London many times, so this entry will include all layovers there so far. I mentioned on my About page that I’d meant to start this blog when I started the job, so this is all playing catch up.

After about 2 months of training, we newbies are put online – but first we take an observatory trip on each operative aircraft – one on an Airbus and one on a Boeing. These are typically short trip so we can see and feel everything in action. After those two flights, we start as a REAL cabin crew!

My first operation and layover was to London Gatwick in October of 2010. Any U.K. destinations tend to have a reputation of being very busy, and this flight was no exception. I was lucky to have been rostered with my classmate and one of my best friends, Raksha, who happened to be from London (and lived just minutes from Gatwick). Of course the two of us were excited to share this experience together – except that being the most junior on the crew, we were stuck operating doors directly across from each other… we were hoping to have someone senior opposite ourselves in case we needed help.. talk about the blind leading the blind!

Anyway, on the layover, I tagged along with Raksha as her boyfriend came to pick us up from the hotel and surprise her parents at home. It was a touching experience; one I’d never get to have because my airline didn’t fly direct to my home town (the closet was LAX, which is still a 6 hour drive home to Phoenix). After the tears dried up and the short stories were exchanged, I was treated to a local London delicacy – yes, KFC – and I borrowed Raksha’s old bed for a quick nap before we had to split. I met up with my buddy Hollie, a friend I’d made in my game journalist days. We’d first met in Las Vegas while attending CES (Consumer Electronics Show) and again at PAX (Penny Arcade Expo in Portland, OR, USA) so it was exciting to finally meet her on her turf. We caught up over sushi and shared a few drinks at an Irish pub in China Town (go fig, the two phenomena that seem to occur EVERYWHERE in the world.. so why not together?)

On my next trip to London, we checked out a bar near the hotel called The Pheasant Bar with some of the crew. It was crew members’ birthday (fellow American) so even though I’m a wimp to the cold, and walking even 10 minutes in the British cold in late November, I braved it to be a team player.

I made it out the next day to meet up with another friend, Ollie, who I’d also met in Las Vegas (AND rhymes with HOLLIE!) for brunch. Strange how random encounters can turn into international friendships. But that’s one of the amazing parts of this job – it makes facebook friends from all around the world a lot more tangible.

The next trip, I decided to play tourist. I joined a few other girls from the crew and we spent far too much money to freeze our asses off atop those lovely double decker tourist buses. And, you know, did the typical tourist thing. Froze our asses off and took pictures of everything.

We hopped off, grabbed some Mickey D’s (because I’m a disgusting American), took some snaps of Big Ben, and then passed through onto Buckingham Palace on the way back to our hotel. It was a windy yet eventful little trip, despite the fact that we had arrived in the late afternoon and tried to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing.