A few weeks before my 19th birthday my sister asked if I could get the Monday after my birthday off work so we could hang out for the day. I eventually managed to get it off and me, my sister and a friend decided we’d go shopping in Southampton for the day.

That Monday as we were getting ready to leave my mum was acting really strange (she is awful at surprises) so I knew something was up but still didn’t expect much. En route, we decided to go to Winchester instead which was only a little further away. However, then I started to notice we had gone way too far and they were trying to fob me off with some excuse about it being a short cut. I had no clue where we could be heading until I saw a sign for Harry Potter Studios. I didn’t want to get my hopes up but I was starting to realise and then suddenly we pulled into The Studios and I more or less freaked out (the parking attendant seemed both confused and scared about the crazy girl freaking out in the car).

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The experience begins with a short film and I was already welling up and then something magical happens (I won’t reveal what as I wouldn’t want to ruin the surprise for you). I was overwhelmed with so many intense emotions that I couldn’t accurately define and then it was kicked up a few more gears when I was told I would be opening the doors to the great hall because it was my birthday! I cried I was so emotional!

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We walked through the exhibit and were able to see props and set as well as read about them and it was really interesting. We then got a chance to ride a broomstick with a green screen and  went in the Weasley’s flying car. Outside we continued to explore the various magical modes of transport as we saw the night bus and got to pretend to ride Hagrids motorbike.

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We then got to walk through Diagon Alley and see the shops from the movies. The end of the tour was magical as you saw a scaled down version of Hogwarts which had impeccable detail as it was used for the external shots of Hogwarts and you then walk through to the gift shop with the following quote above the door..

“No story lives unless someone wants to listen. The stories we live best do live in us forever. So whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home”

-J.K Rowling

The gift shop was extensive and we had a lot of fun running around looking at the magical chocolate and sweets, the characters wands and we even tried on some robes. I was so tempted to buy the Gryffindor sweater however it was a steep price tag which I couldn’t quite justify on a jumper.

This was a very emotional day for me because not only was I getting to look around a film studio from a series I had grown up with but it had been a thoughtful birthday surprise from an awesome sister and fantastic friend! If you are a fan of Harry Potter I would recommend the Studio tour especially if you do have an interest in the set and props used.

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