Sunday, March 30, 2014

Harry Potter Studio Tour in London

Disclaimer: Some spoilers ahead if you haven't visited the studio. I have very selective pictures in this post so that I won't spoil the fun for you. :) 

I remember extending my trip for about 5 more days in London just so I can visit the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio.  As I only finalised details of my Cambridge study trip rather late, all the other dates and time were already sold out online!

The Harry Potter Studio Tour requires advance booking (up to 2 months) as no tickets will be sold at the door. There are basic tickets (£30) and package tickets (£39.95 for additional paperback souvenir guide and audio guide). This was a no-brainer for me, obviously I went to the Complete Studio Tour Package, and I wanted a tour slot as early as possible. I also booked a musical on the same day so I had to rush back into the city in the evening. 

Go to Watford station. 
Getting there wasn't as easy because I had to change trains, then take bus and then walk to the studio. Watford is sort of outside the city and I didn't plan enough time to reach there. There's a fast train from Euston, but I accidentally took the wrong one and ended up on a 1-hr ride. No complaints though because the view was nice and the train was quite empty.  :)

These people live next to the railway stations. 

Siriusly wait until a bit pek chek.

The special Harry Potter bus comes every 20-30 mins (feels like forever!) and costs £2 for a round trip (just retain the ticket stub). En route there, the bus was playing a video hosted by Warwick Davis about how exciting the studio tour is gonna be etc. Nice build up there. 

And then you see this - 
Entrance to the studio

:D :D :D I finally reached! 

I didn't have time to take nice pictures outside as I was running late. So a pretty ticketmaster scanned my e-ticket and I entered the lobby. 

(Click to enlarge) Panoramic shot of all the HP posters over the years.

Oh by the way, there's a cafe at the lobby if you're hungry or what. 

A HP fan in her Slytherin school uniform :) 

I quickly collected my audio guide and entered the queue line. Some lady was kind enough to help me snap a picture because I was struggling with failed selfies. :< 

The boy who lived (here)

The scene that began the entire book series is none other than The Cupboard Under The Stairs. Did you know that a cupboard was really built to film the scene? 

Next we entered a dark room with multiple screens with snippets from the movie (much like Singapore's exhibition) only this is WAY better, then the walls are lifted up to reveal The Great Hall entrance!!! 

The Great Hall Entrance

You cannot imagine my excitement. Hehehe.  I think it's stupid that Singapore's TINY exhibition didn't allow any pictures but the studio tour in London is okay to do so. I took pictures until 2 of my batteries went flat lol. 

Long dining table

Fireplace with school and house crests

The professors

The Great Hall is the first guided spot. All visitors will have to go through the Hall to reach other rooms. Can you believe they built an entire fake hall? The details of each prop are amazing. You can explore the costumes and sets, and the guide also explained a little bit about the floating candles above the hall. :) 

Who wore this, in which scene? ;) 
All the costumes displayed here are actual pieces worn by the actors/actresses during filming. 

The tour also showcased the many filming techniques and technology that went behind the scenes. For instance, can you recognise this place?

It's The Leaky Cauldron!

This was created using a visual technique called forced perspective, which makes it appear longer on screen. It's actually just a small box set/prop.

The studio is well organized, you go from "room" to "room" (Gryffindor Boys' Dorm to whoever's office etc) and the related costumes/props/technology used will be presented. Each stop has an information board that you read, and some even can interact with (more on that later).

Dumbledore's office. Lots of fun facts here.

Hagrid's Hut 
The Weasley's slanted house and dining room. I love this stop! 

More notable prop displays-
The full wand collection. 
I wish I had the money to buy them all!! They are all pieces of art in my opinion.

Mirror of Erised 
 See what you desire!

Goblet of Fire cup and the Golden Egg

Deluminator (I think so), Hermione's Time-Turner and The Golden Snitch

Entrance to the headmaster's office is guarded by a gargoyle, and for the films they actually built a real thing. It's fixed with all the mechanisms and will actually move, and not done by visual effects.  These are also applicable to -

Chamber of Secrets snake door

Philosopher Stone's door (can't remember this one :/)

Mrs Weasley's house clock

Check out Prof. Lupin's loots (hehehe):

There was also a section dedicated to the animal actors. From time to time, the studio actually invites them to the venue for performances and what not, very cool.

The last stop before you head outside (part 2) is the graphic design section where it showcases mostly Weasley's Wizards' Wheezes products, among others.

Once you're outside, you've completed part 1 of the studio tour. The outdoor compound isn't just empty though, it showcases mostly the bigger sets and outdoor scenes from the movies.

 Oh it's also where Butterbeer is for sale. HAHAHA. I had high expectations of it and it was a disappointment. :( The only good thing was that we get to keep the cup :D But I had to clean it with toilet paper like 3-4 times because it was so oily, don't know how to stuff inside my bag.

Tom Riddle's Grave, Hagrid's motorcar and the Knight Bus

Do you find this bridge familiar? Many wide angle shots of Harry & friends in the films were shot here... turns out only part of a bridge is needed to complete the picture.

Details, details
Oh just a funny story to share, because I intentionally dressed up like a Slytherin student, I was asked at least 4 times where the toilet is/ how to get to xxx exhibit/ where can they get the stamp booklet for their kid etc.  HAHAHAH people thought that I worked there wtf.  But I think I should be proud lol.  *pats self on back*

Life-size chess pieces

Who knew they actually built all these chess pieces??! I always thought they were just done by the computer.

Enter part 2 of the tour and you will find yourself in all the 'dark' places. I'm talking about the Dark Arts.  I spent some time in knowing more about the Dementors and of course, he-who-must-not-be-named...

I thought these mechanisms were just too cool because they are so realistic!

There's also the famous a Monster Book of Monsters:

There are also many exhibits here that involves the making of the Goblins and magical creatures too. One of which including the famous Hippogriff.

Hello, Buckbeak! 

Due to lack of time, I cut my second part of the tour short and headed down to Diagon Alley! It's a pity this set only showcases the exterior facade, but I heard the theme park at Universal Orlando have all these shops in operation!!

My favourite happy lane. 

Next, I went to a hall that is very similar to a museum/art gallery. There were many sketches, paintings and even 3D models.

Creating Hogwarts
Super talented bunch of set designers. And all these hard work were translated into...

Please use the visitors on both sides of the castle for comparison of the size of the castle.

Lower ground of Hogwarts 
As you walk around Hogwarts, the lightings in this room changes as well. It goes from day to night and vice versa, pretty cool. We will also start from the top view, and make our way down the slope.

Individual  lightings of Hogwarts stairwells, hallways etc. 
 The details and work that goes into the making is unbelievable. Shut up and just take my money!

The tour ended in a room that is probably Ollivander's Shop:

Fake wand boxes lol 

 I made sure I had at least an hour for ...

Harry Potter merchandise shop 
I went CRAZY here. The range of products is so much bigger than what I saw in Singapore's exhibition. So I kinda bought those that I haven't seen before. I have collected many items over the years but have not started on the wands (no money and glass cabinet to store) nor the cloaks (when will I ever wear them?).  In the end, I bought a quaffle ball (lol, I'm serious), Felix Felicis T-shirt, Slytherin wool cardigan (mad expensive), Hogwarts keychain, some other nonsensical items and .... photographs of me flying on the broom. Heheheh.

And that sums up my VERY enjoyable Harry Potter Studio Tour! <3 nbsp="" p="">

To visit - 
Opening hours: 9am - 10am and the last tour between 4pm - 6.30pm; closing time is 3 hours after the last time slot.
Address: Warner Bros. Studios Leavesden, Aerodome Way, Watford, Hertfordshire WD25 7LS, United Kingdom

Thursday, March 20, 2014

YumCha - More Than Just A Dimsum Place

YumCha has always been known to be one of the to-go dimsum places in Singapore, but do you know that they also serve a wide variety of seafood dishes?

Nobody touches the food before photos were taken HAHA
Most people would be more familiar with their first Chinatown outlet launched in 2000, where they are still currently serving dimsum push-cart style. Their second outlet, YumCha Garden, feels a little more exclusive and is tucked away in a (quieter) corner at Serangoon Country Club. This was also the outlet that I visited 2 weeks ago for a food tasting session.

Promotion - 

Enjoy an A la Carte Buffet Dinner at $33.80++ (Adult) and $21.80++ (Child) with a minimum of 4 people dining. Promotion is only valid for weekdays only, excluding public holidays.

Enter SGCC

I personally find this venue ideal for business meetings or large family dinners as the YumCha Garden is HUGE.  The restaurant can sit up to 300 pax and have private VIP rooms to accommodate to the customers.

YumCha has just recently expanded their menu by adding seafood dishes as well as a special hotpot series - Tapino.  I was told Tapino is a Cantonese tradition where friends and families gatther to cook and reminisce over a pot of hot soup.

One of the private VIP booths, ornately decorated

There were 9 of us that night, but we had more than 60 dishes to choose from, and we were completely spoilt for choice. I lost count of how much good food we had. We started with appetizers, ALL the appetizers on the menu :O  -

Total of 8 appetizer dishes, including Green Cucumber with Garlic (left),  Crispy Salmon Fish Skin (centre) and Sliced Smoked Duck (right) 

Crispy Silver Fish

Salad You Zha Kuey

Marinated Jelly Fish with Thai Sauce
I recommend the appetizers, my favourites are the green cucumber, marinated jelly fish and deep fried seafood roll. The best part is because this is a buffet dinner, you can re-order as many times as you want!

Then came the 6 special dishes (limited to one serving per table) -

Poached Prawn with Herb Served in Bamboo Steamer

Peking Duck
Stir Fried Fresh Scallop with Honey Beans in Spicy Sauce 

Abalone with Spinach in Oyster Sauce 
Deep Fried Soft Shell Crab with Salt and Pepper
Plus a bowl of superior Shark's Fin with Fish Maw. My favourite dishes under this category are the prawn, duck and crab.

By then we were already feeling satiated (even before the main dishes were out!), but we wanted to try more because it's BUFFET!  We also had -
Steamed Sliced Fish with Cai Poh

Coffee Pork Ribs

Seasonal vegetables  
Fried Crispy Chicken
 In addition to the great amount of food, we even ordered dimsum!

Liu Sha Pau, Beancurd Roll with Superior Sauce and Siew Mai
Crystal Chives Dumpling
All the abovementioned dishes are all available in the buffet dinner menu as well, except for Liu Sha Pau, that was a special request.  :) 

Dealing with the oozing golden yellow goodness   

Just when you thought you're done with dinner, somebody has to tempt you with desserts (I think that was me lol). Yep, included in the buffet menu as well we have :

Chilled Herbal Jelly with Honey Syrup 

Eddy had Chilled Fresh Mango Pudding
These are 2 out of 5 options under the dessert selection.

We all had a great time, and even took group pics inspired by Ellen's Oscar Selfie. :D

Before I end this I just wanna share that YumCha Express delivers dimsum to your doorstep! I didn't even know that you can order dimsum for home delivery, and that's very cool. Apparently they can even deliver chilli crabs and prawns!

Somebody please try to call 62221717 one day for a home dimsum partayye.

YumCha is located at -

  • YumCha Chinatown
20 Trengganu Street (Off Temple Street) 
#02-01 (Chinatown) Singapore 058479 
Tel: 6372 1717

Opening hours -
Mon - Fri: 11am -11pm
Sat, Sun & PH: 9am - 11pm 

  • YumCha Garden

22 Kensington Park Road (Serangoon Garden Country Club)
Singapore 557271
Tel: 6343 1717

Opening hours -
Mon - Fri: 11am -3pm, 6pm - 11pm
Sat, Sun & PH: 9am - 3pm,  6pm - 11pm
Closed from 3 - 6pm daily

  • YumCha Changi Business Park 
6 Changi Business Park Ave 
#01-33 UE Bizhub EAST (Next to NTUC) 
Singapore 486017
Tel: 6789 1717 

Opening hours -
10.30am -3pm, 6pm - 9pm Powered by Blogger.