Chasing Harry Potter: Following The Footsteps Of The Boy Who Lived

Sharon and I were both late to the Harry Potter phenomenon. It took a good friend of ours to get us hooked on the books (he had a trick of loaning the first book to people as something of a “gateway drug” to get them started). I can even remember the day I read the first book. In January 2006, I brought Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone with me on a plane ride to California (yes, people actually brought books with them back then). I finished it before the end of the trip and started the second book on the way home, Sharon started reading the books before me and we were both already four movies behind, but we took our work seriously and in no time we were caught up and have been fans ever since.

Other than for The Sound of Music, we’re generally not the types to go searching for filming sites of movies. For some reason, Harry Potter is different. In August of 2006, we visited the UK and decided to take a train to Oxford. We’d never been there before so it was a chance to visit the city and take in some of the sites from the movie. From the Hospital Wing (and later where Ron danced with Professor McGonagall) to the hallway from Chamber of Secrets and the Hogwarts entrance stairway, and finally the classroom where Hermione tells us all how to correctly pronounce “wingardium levoisa,” it’s all there.

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Back then, Sharon kept a personal blog and wrote about our visit. You can check out more from our visit to Oxford if you click here.

In 2010, we returned to the UK and were driving through the Moors of North Yorkshire. We had to ask to stop at Goathland train station. You know, the train station they used for Hogsmeade Station in the first movie. To date, I’d say this is our most obscure stop on the journey.

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Our need for Harry Potter fixes were growing more and more. Luckily for us, Universal Studios Orlando opened the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in June of 2010. We could leave our house and get a fix within 30 minutes.

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We even purchased some of the merchandise. What can I say. I admit it. I married a Hufflepuff. At least she finally managed to get her own wand from Olivanders (Note from Sharon: The wand picked me!).

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In 2011, we made a point to see the final Harry Potter movie at the AMC Universal Orlando theater at the midnight showing. We were teased with this sign at the entrance to the theater.

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As it turned out, we got to visit the park after the movie. Nothing like getting to enter a theme park at 3AM for free with a red carpet entrance to the most popular area in Orlando.

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We finally visited London again in 2013. This trip had one “must see” location.

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The Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden Studios, outside of London, had opened up The Making of Harry Potter. We spent hours there, looking around.

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My favourite picture from our visit. I always think that my greatest wish is to be standing next to Sharon doing something we both love. I think the Mirror of Erised knew that.

I couldn’t help doing my best Professor Lupin pose while on the Hogwarts Bridge.

 

Of course, we’ve taken some time while we’re in London to visit St. Pancras Station (it’s not Kings Cross, which is across the street). I’m not gonna say we stayed at the Great Northern Hotel on our last trip because we had this view from our room, but it didn’t hurt in making my decision either.

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Of course when we were at Kings Cross, we had to visit the Harry Potter shop.

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By now, I’m sure it’s no surprise to anyone that we stood on line to get our picture taken while pushing our trolley onto Platform 9 3/4 (with house appropriate scarves). (BTW, Sharon was the only Hufflepuff the whole time we were in line, apparently everyone else in the world is a Griffindor).

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This was also the trip when we scored tickets to go see Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. We’re seeing it again this fall, but this time in New York. #KeepTheSecrets

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On our way home from this trip, we had a day in London. Of course we had to walk past the entrance to the Ministry of Magic.

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Did I mention we visited Ireland in 2011? Our tour took us to the Cliffs of Moher. This location might look familiar from Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince.

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There’s also been the random Harry Potter excursion here and there. Like when they had a exhibit of props from the movie in New York.

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There’s still plenty of places we haven’t seen. Some are easy, like the London Zoo. Others, like Scotland, might take a separate trip but I’m sure we’ll eventually make it there. It’s on the list of places we really want to visit.

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