30 June, 2013

The Making of Harry Potter

It was my youngest daughter's birthday last week and she opted, as a birthday treat, not to have a party but to have a family visit to The Making of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros. studios near Watford.

So that's what we did. We'd never been before but we knew quite a few people who had and so we knew it was meant to be very good.

It was pouring with rain when we set off, but that wasn't a problem as the attraction is inside and although we had a picnic lunch, we were quite happy to eat it sitting in the car rather than using the outside picnic area on site.

The whole studio experience seemed well-organised and efficient right from the word go. We were greeted in our car by a member of staff who checked our email confirmation and we were then directed exactly where to park by three ushers placed at strategic points in the car park. When we exchanged our email confirmation for tickets, we were served by another member of staff who again was highly efficient and gave us all the information that we needed (where the loos were, when we should join the queue, how we might spend our spare time, etc.) without us having to ask. And all the other staff members who we encountered were knowledgeable, helpful and friendly. All very impressive.

The attraction itself was good too. It was really interesting--even for adults--to see the various sets from the films and to learn how some of the special effects were created. Things that I found of particular interest were the artwork--fantastic pictures drawn by truly talented concept artists; the level of detail in the sets--deliberately faded paintings, smoke-blackened walls and chipped stonework in the great hall; the beautiful costumes; and the very convincing look and feel of the Diagon Alley set.

It was a great family outing and I enjoyed the day much more than I had anticipated I would.

We finished the day off with a meal at Ask Italian in Watford before driving home. We've always enjoyed Ask in the past, but it proved rather disappointing this time. The place was clean, the staff were very friendly, the food was of high quality, but the problem was the portion sizes. I ordered pasta, which was truly tiny, and the pizzas had extremely thin bases--so much so that we were still hungry when we left. It's a shame because this didn't use to be the case with Ask, but this new development probably means that we won't eat there again--or at least it won't be our first choice.

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