Better Be… Gryffindor
The first big set after walking past the Hogwarts gates was the Gryffindor boys’ dormitory. This one showed a bit of a lack of planning on the part of set designers, because it was definitely built for 11-year-olds, and I truly can’t imagine them trying to cram five 17-year-old boys in here for scenes.
Even the beds were too short for the older kids.
In spite of being quite tiny, though, there was something very homey about the set, which made it seem like it would be a decent place to take a nap. Maybe they should offer that option as part of a special event…
Behind us while we looked at the dormitory set, we heard one of the docents trying to get everyone’s attention in her immediate vicinity. It was time for her to demonstrate the letter-shooter attached to the Dursley’s mail slot from the first movie.
I remembered reading that this was done as a practical effect rather than being added with computers, which is really cool. Even more impressive is the fact that it still works 15 years later! What looked like an ordinary door actually had quite the contraption built in.
Here it goes, shooting letters out of the mail slot. We were instructed to only grab one letter each so that as many guests as possible would end up with one.
Tracy succeeded in beating some of the crowds away to get one for us!
Certain bits and bobs were spread out around the giant warehouse-like space, including this dinosaur-ish creature that hung from the ceiling of the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom.
This display showcased several wands that were owned by the major characters in the movies. The placard pointed out that the wands underwent a major redesign around the third or fourth movie, when each one was made to better suit the personality of its owner.
Some set pieces were hoisted high above the main walkways.
Here was the Mirror of Erised, complete with its backwards inscription.
When we looked in the mirror, we saw ourselves… surrounded by other tourists. Hm, maybe it’s broken.
And this is the painting of the Fat Lady guarding Gryffindor tower from the first couple movies. Again, she got a major re-vamp later in the series (and the actress was re-cast).
And here is another iconic set from all of the Harry Potter movies—the Gryffindor common room!
Another one that’s fairly small when you consider how many people were usually crammed into it, this set looks like the perfect place to lounge around in.
Mannequins were set up to reflect the scene from the first movie when the trio confronts Neville.
There were also little props scattered around from various other films, like Neville’s mimbulus mimbletonia.
Seeing the small costumes is another reminder of just how young the main actors were when they started the series.
All of the artwork in the common room has a story behind it, including the heavy tapestries and that portrait on the left, which was actually modeled after a young Maggie Smith.
In the movie, this staircase goes up to the dormitories (which are actually housed about 20 feet away and not up those stairs).
Looking at the common room from our angle, it almost resembled a diorama at a museum. It’s only when you try to tune out some of the surrounding visual noise and zoom in on certain aspects of the room (similar to what the camera would do when shooting a scene here) that you can picture it as the actual set.
Up on the balcony, there are mannequins with Harry, Ron, and Hermione’s costumes from the third film. Even though only two years had passed from the first movie, you could definitely see how much the actors had grown.
And then next to the common room, here are some costumes from the final Harry Potter films. It was really cool seeing the invisibility cloak (complete with its green screen interior).
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