Less than a month ago, the twentieth anniversary of the arrival of the Harry Potter series was marked across the world. After the release of the first novel in 1997 the British books became a global phenomenon, and more than that, a generational touchstone: all the students on the course at Jowett Walk are younger than the books are, and have grown up in a world and culture that has been increasingly inundated by Potter-mania. Almost all the students, no matter the country from which they came to Oxford, have read and love the books, and been enchanted by the films— and so it was with delight that they travelled to Warner Bros’ studios slightly to the north of London yesterday.
The Making of Harry Potter tour has been the world’s highest-rated attraction on the advisory aggregator TripAdvisor since it opened in 2012, and judging by the students’ reaction, this is not surprising. The tour was a magical blend of the series’ quirky details imagined in physical reality, and fascinating information concerning the production of perhaps the world’s most-loved films. After the magic of the Wizarding School party yesterday, it was something special to be able to see how its inspiration was realised by its creators.
Students were able to look at all of the costumes and props, and even got the chance to go into the Forbidden Forest and visit the Dursleys’ house, recently added to the tour. Especially exciting was the chance to try Butterbeer, the staple of a good time in Hogsmeade, and taste every flavour of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans, a brave thing to do considering that the flavours also include Earwax and Dirt. In the shop, some students elected to buy for themselves a piece of the Harry Potter story— especially Tia, from India, who will be returning to her family with five wands!