22 November 2016

Warner Brothers Studio Tour

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People think that you have to be chosen to go to Hogwarts. That an owl will fly to you on your eleventh birthday with a letter inviting you to begin your education in the wizarding world. But fuck that. I'm not eleven any more and I didn't get invited to go and learn fucking magic. My friend Kris and I went down to London last weekend and as we wandered aimlessly around, we bumped into a street magician as he was about to begin his show. He used his mind to bend cutlery, he made foam balls disappear from under a cup, and he made the corner of a random card that he'd ripped appear on the inside of an uncut lemon. Did he learn to do this under the guidance of Professor Dumbledore? No. Of course not. Who needs the first rate education of Hogwarts when you have a childhood as lonely as his must have been! Anyway, he finished his show, asked us all for a fiver and so me and my friend performed a magic trick of our own and fucking disappeared. We needed all of our money for something much more exciting that weekend because although we might not have been invited to go to Hogwarts, we'd decided to do a Malfoy and buy our way in instead. Whether Malfoy would stay in a small room at the Premier Inn in Watford before going to school, I don't know. But after a good nights sleep in which my friend assures me that he didn't masturbate, we were both ready to go to the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour.

As soon as you get to the studio, you're expected to queue up outside for a little bit before they'll let you in to experience their amazing wonders. It's very much like how you have to sit through the shit of the first two Potter movies before things eventually began to get exciting with the third. From there, you're walked into a kind of introduction room where it becomes apparent how much of a cult the Harry Potter franchise has become. I mean, I'm a fan, obviously. But as the tour guide hyped up how great the series was and then played us a video that highlighted how much of a worldwide phenomenon that Potter had become, I started to worry that the tour might conclude with us all being found face down in a fucking bowl of poisoned porridge. My friend didn't get this vibe though, having been distracted from the information as soon as the video went on. Originally I just assumed it was because Kris is annoyingly only nineteen years old and therefore part of the YouTube generation, unable to concentrate on anything for longer than twelve seconds. Although in his defence, apparently it was actually because as the video went on, the rooms lights went off and a young disabled boy began to lick him on the elbow. I can see why that would be distracting.

It doesn't state why we're wanted.
It's because we're too motherfucking cool.
From here we finally got to our first big movie set which happened to be the Great Hall. The tour guide asked if it was anybody's birthday that day because she'd need some help opening the huge doors to let us in. About fifteen children ran forward because children are fucking liars and the guide was too gullible to ask them for I.D. The doors were opened and I found myself gasping for the first time, as the movies began to come to life in front of me. The level of detail in that Hall is insane, whether it be the genuine stone floor, or the logos painted onto the wall that are barely even visible in the films themselves. Around the outsides of the Hall are the tables in which the kids would eat, that have been authentically laid out with plates, cutlery, and a boar-headed jug that must have cost them a fortune based on how fucking much it was being sold for in the gift shop. At the front of the Hall are mannequins of some of the teachers, with the actual costumes on them that were worn by the actors. At one point in the room I even spotted a mannequin wearing the robes that Harry Potter was wearing as he entered the Great Hall for the very first time. I can't be sure but I suspect that was the exact same mannequin that played the character in the first two movies too.

I'm on the left, then it's a stupid fat bitch,
then there's the picture behind us.
After this, you're basically free to wander round however you like in what's basically a giant warehouse with sets everywhere. It's kind of like that room in which they hide the Ark Of The Covenant at the end of Raiders but specifically for kids who used to use a compass to carve a lightening scar into their forehead. There's Dumbledore's office, the Gryffindor common room, and Hagrids hut. Sadly I was unable to spot any reference to that scene in which an un-fully formed Voldermort was caught sucking off a unicorn in the Forbidden Forest. With tour guides dotted everywhere and informative posters on every wall, the tour is essentially like walking into a giant DVD extra. Except you're not allowed to visit at two o'clock in the morning whilst only wearing your underwear, which is how I usually end up enjoying DVD extras. From one guide, we learnt that the colour of Voldemort's robes became less green after each Horcrux was destroyed, from one poster we learnt that the studio didn't think that Chris Columbus was a shit director. Everywhere you look there's just something interesting staring back at you with the information near by to explain it. You're allowed to take pictures of almost everything too, which is great because it feels narcissistic to take hundreds of photos of my own face without an interesting background to justify it.

Look at his stupid happy face
In fact, the only things you're not allowed to photograph are the little areas in which the staff make you pose for a picture that you can buy. You are however allowed to take a picture of yourself at the till as they rape you with their extortionate prices, which is nice. My friend and I posed as wizards for a wanted poster which I did end up buying, but only because I suspect I'll one day get Alzheimer's and it'll be fun to look back at it and believe I was a dark wizard in my younger days. It's also worth noting that my younger friend thought it'd be funny if he pulled a miserable expression in every picture we did actually take. That's an excuse I use to explain why everybody looks miserable when they're in a picture with me. Plus I only ever really see him smile when he has wind anyway. However when we turned the corner from here and walked right onto Platform Nine and Three Quarters, he couldn't resist the smile any longer as he announced “I'm so happy right now that I can't even pretend to be sad”. Ignoring the fucking Simple Jack-ness of his Forrest Gump-a-like statement, it was indeed pretty hard not to be touched by his sweetness. Then he farted five times in a row making this presumably the happiest moment of his stupid little life.

That plastic looks so glasslike!!!
Straight after we'd seen the train, we went to the cafe which happens to be one of the few places on Earth to sell butterbeer, which makes for an interesting dilemma. Best case scenario is that I buy a drink that I like and can never get hold of again. Worst case scenario is that I end up having to drink a drink that I don't like the taste of, and who the fuck wants to do that? Unless of course that I'm a dying old man with a withered wanking hand and I'm forcing a young boy to water-board the drink into me with a fucking sea-shell. However coming to those conclusions requires some degree of thought process and that's not how consumerism works. So I bought a butterbeer. I paid the more-expensive price for one too because I wanted mine to come in a Harry Potter jug that I'd be able to take home as a souvenir. It was then that I discovered two more pieces of magic at the studio. Firstly the drink was actually really nice which is a big thing for me to say. I'm English but don't drink alcohol, and so for me 'tea-total' really does mean tea-total. Secondly, those more-expensive glass jugs that I paid for my drink to come in? They're actually made of cheap plastic rather than glass. Who knew?! I mean, I could see the knight-bus through the window next to the house on Privet Drive and Godricks Hollow and all of those were just fake versions of what they appeared to be. So why should the stuff I'm spunking my cash away on be any fucking different?!

We were sad because
he was too dead to be our slave
From here, there's only really a couple more things to see, which included the creature effects section in which you get an idea of how they created some of the monsters. It seems that the general rule is that if it's big then it's a robot, and if it's small then it's a dwarf in a gimp mask. I think it might have been a walk through Diagon Alley after that, but in honesty there's so much fucking stuff on this tour that I'm starting to forget what order I saw things in. Plus I used the London underground that weekend without having had every vaccination known to man and so am now suffering from some sort of disease. However unless Diagon Alley is now just a fever dream in my cockney-poisoned mind, I remember it being fucking amazing. Turning a corner and seeing all of the shops exactly as they appear in the movie is something that I don't think I'll ever forget. Even the staff seemed excited about it, which is odd considering they presumably see it every day. I mean, I saw a tour guide kissing another tour guide just next to where the Weasley Twins opened their shop and I assumed it was through sheer excitement. Like when you see NASA teams in movies high-five each other when their rocket doesn't blow up. I just figured they were both so happy to see how happy I was that they just had to kiss. But maybe I'm wrong. I'm ill, don't forget. Maybe I just witnessed some work based sexual harassment. In which case, and if I'm talking specifically about you reading this now, then get in touch and I'll provide a reliable witness to your sexual assault. I'm happy to help because you were attractive and this seems like a great way to get to know you.

It sorted me right into a pretty shit shop.
Anyway, the tour ends with a miniature replica of the Hogwarts Castle that really is taking the piss with the word 'miniature' because it's fucking huge. If you're struggling for a place to stay that's near to London then you can do a lot worse than paying the thirty something quid to get into this tour and then just jumping the barrier and sleeping the night in the replica of Hogwarts Castle. If I have any criticism of the tour it's that after it was concluded here, we were walked straight into the gift shop which seemed pure shit to me. I'd emptied my bank account before coming here with the strict intent of buying every replica prop I could find. But it was mostly cuddly toys and pyjamas which is fucking useless to me seems as I'm not a fucking toddler. I don't go to bed with a cuddly toy and I don't wear pyjamas. I wear boxer shorts and the only thing that I cuddle up to is my desperate hope that I might not wake up in the morning. I'd also heard that the shop sold replicas of the characters wands and so I'd decided I was going to get Blaise Zabini's. But not only did they not have Zabini's, they hardly had any in general. I wrote to director David Yates before the Zabini role had been filled and begged him to cast me in the part. He wrote back informing me that he wouldn't hire me because I was too white for the role and, with that, my Hollywood plans were killed. My intent therefore had been to buy Zabini's wand, snap it the fuck in half, and send one piece to Yates and the other to the actor he eventually cast. Fucking crap shop.

Even the idea of him riding a prop bike
scares the shit out of me
From here, the only thing that I did before leaving was head to the loo for a well earned piss in which I saw an old man walk over to the mirrors by the sink, pull his pants down, and begin to play with a wand of his own. I've no idea what the fuck he was doing because I was trying not to look. It seemed strange that I should be the one to feel awkward in the company of an old guy openly playing with his wrinkly todger, but the Warner Brothers Studio Tour is a strange place and one that I hugely recommend to anybody with an interest in the Harry Potter franchise. I asked me friend for a quote in regards to his experience of the tour and he answered with “sexual”. Now this could mean that he just really enjoyed the day and that's the kind of word that the kids use to express themselves with. Or maybe he saw the old man in the bathroom too? Or maybe he saw the two tour members necking each other by the Weasley's shop? Or maybe he'd actually quite liked it when the little disabled boy was licking him in the dark? Or maybe he was simply lying to me when he promised that he hadn't knocked one out in the hotel room the night before?! Either way, he clearly enjoyed the place and so did I. Thanks for reading, motherfuckers, and see you next time.