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LUXURY ON LOCATION: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

The Movie: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II (2011)
The Location: England
 
Certain things spring to mind when thinking of Great Britain; the royals, the stiff upper lip, afternoon tea, The Beatles... Yet in a relatively short period of time a boy wizard has joined that list of one of the UK's most famous exports.

Little luxies want to be the characters, adults sneak-a-peek at the books, the movies have been universally successful, it has turned unknown pre-teen actors into megastars and the franchise has made over US $15 billion.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part Two was released worldwide July 15 and is being deemed as 'The Epic Conclusion of the Worldwide Phenomenon' (The Luxury Travel Bible can't argue with that statement).

Now that we have all donned the 3-D glasses, seen the movie, the box office records have been smashed and we have all began our mourning period that our time at Hogwarts is over. Although much of the filming was surrounded in secrecy as we enter the Harry Potter's final act TLTB takes a look at some of the Harry Potter filming locations.

Harry Potter has proved to have been a tourist board's dream. All of the Harry Potter movies in the series were filmed on location in the UK. Off the top of our heads we can think of various locations Harry has brought to big screen glory; London Zoo's Reptile House is where Harry gets his own back on his family in the first film, Leadenhall Market in the City of London became Diagon Alley and the exterior of Gringotts Wizarding Bank is in reality Australia House on the Strand.
Much of the final film was filmed at Pinewood Studios, which has also served as the set for blockbusters such as Pirates of the Caribbean, Prince of Persia, James Bond, The Da Vinci Code.

The final Harry Potter film will take fans full circle. We originally saw a fresh-faced Harry, Ron and Hermione board the Hogwarts Express from King's Cross Station's platform 9 ¾ in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (Sorcerer's Stone for TLTB's American readers). The cast and crew were spotted amidst high security filming at the station for the final Harry Potter scene.

King's Cross Station makes no secret of its links to the franchise, dedicated a section of the railway as the secret platform 9 ¾. Muggles wishing to emulate the students in their final year at Hogwarts can pose for photos to their heart's content ... only risking the wrath of commuters as opposed to Lord Voldemort or Lucius Malfoy.

In the movie version of 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets', the exterior of St. Pancras train station next door was used, as its imposing Gothic façade was considered more impressive for the big screen than King's Cross' exterior.

During Deathly Hallows: Part Two, Ron and Hermione are seen embracing on a vast, empty beach. Freshwater West in Pembrokeshire was transformed into a Hollywood set and a full sized Shell Cottage (a safe house for Bill and Fleur Weasley), was constructed for the movie amongst the sand dunes. Sadly this building was only temporary however the beach remains a tourist attraction. It is well known for its swell and strong waves therefore making it a favourite for surfers. However it is only recommended for experienced and strong swimming surfers. Wildlife known to reside at Freshwaters West include seabirds, otters, grey seals, porpoises and the chough which is one of the rarest members of the crow family. Ridley Scott's recent adaptation of Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe and Cate Blancett was also shot at Freshwater West, where the area in this situation stood in for the French coastline

hogwarts at the wizarding world of harry potter
hogwarts at the wizarding world of harry potter
shell cottage at freshwater west
hogsmeade at the wizarding world of harry potter
leadenhall market
the making of harry potter
the balmoral lobby


 Piccadilly Circus in London's West End is the location Harry Hermione and Ron apparate too when they escape the deathly eaters but around the corner at Leicester square were far pleasanter celebrations. The world premiere of Deadly Hallows Part Two took place at Leicester Square's Odeon on July 7th (just as the world premieres of every other Harry Potter film have). All of the cast and crew were present and Emma Watson and J.K.Rowling were seen shedding a tear together after 10 years of premieres. Leicester Square is a must for any film fan having hosted some of the biggest film premieres of recent years including the first Sex and the City film, War of the Worlds and Alice and Wonderland. There are many bars and restaurant nearby for a little post-premiere refreshment.

For the purists amongst you who want the ultimate 'On Location' experience for the original 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows' book check into the room J.K.Rowling stayed in while writing the finale in the Harry Potter series. The Rocco Forte Collection's Balmoral Hotel acted as her home as she completed her much loved series (a long way from the Edinburgh cafe she famously worked in as a penniless single mother when writing the first Harry Potter book). After finishing the final book the author wrote on a marble bust of Hermes in her room, 'JK Rowling finished writing Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in this room (652) on 11th Jan 2007'.

For  Harry Potter and the Deathly Part Two the camera's returned to the Scottish Highlands  and the shimmering lochs and rough heather covered mountains  are again the stars of many sweeping . And of course the Jacobite steam engine which plays 'Hogwarts Express' is again seen chugging through the Scottish Highlands.  Along the route of the actual train tourists can see Ben Nevis, Loch Morar and the deepest seawater loch in Europe, Loch Nevis.  One of the most famous Harry Potter sights on the route is the Glenfinnan viaduct.

The Forbidden Forest where Harry has his showdown with Voldemort is actually Ashridge Berkhamsted, Hertfordshire. Various other forest scenes in earlier movies were shot at Ashridge 

To get a taste of all things Harry Potter walking tours of some of the most famous Harry Potter sites are available from Visit Britain. These tours are good value for money and offer a great insight into the Wizard World.  An official, highly knowledgably guide on all things Potter, will lead devotees to locations which both inspired J.K.Rowling and that have featured in the films. For a little more luxury and privacy chauffeur driven Harry Potter tours are also available.
 
No detail has been left to chance... We hear the Butterbeer is quite delicious.

From printed page to silver screen, Harry Potter is now a theme park attraction. 'The Wizarding World of Harry Potter' at Universal Studios, Florida, opened with the Harry Potter cast and J.K.Rowling in attendance and is a must for those wanting a Harry Potter experience.

Muggles can see a full sized Hogwarts Express, enter Hogwarts, view the Harry Potter shops, inn and restaurants and go to battle on the 'Dragon Challenge' rollercoaster.  Visitors can even visit Ollivanders to have their wand choose them.
No detail has been left to chance... We hear the Butterbeer is quite delicious.

And Finally...  If the idea of no new Harry Potter each year fills you will dread, fear not there will be a new release next year. In Spring 2012 Warner Bros. Studios London will launch 'The Making of Harry Potter' walking tour. This tour will take fans behind the scenes to see authentic sets, props and costumes from the films. The attraction is endorsed by the cast and crew of the Harry Potter movies, as well as by its creator, J.K. Rowling.

This attraction should also appease London Mayor Boris Johnson who at the launch of Florida's 'Wizarding World of Harry Potter' said that it was 'utterly mad' to leave it to the Americans 'to make money from a great British invention'.  Boris will be pleased to learn that 'The Making of Harry Potter' is located just outside of London.
 
 
Sarah Bryans 27/7/11
Photos: © 2010 Universal Orlando Resort and Visit Britain
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