4. Potter Tour and Memorials

The most incredible part of my trip so far: The Harry Potter Warner Bros Studio Tour. It was a magical, remarkable, beautiful 3 hours that reminded me all over again how much the series has impacted my life. It was intricate, detailed, exciting and fulfilling in every way. Walking through it was kind of an exhilarating blur, but I still remember exactly how it was laid out. The production team did a wonderful job categorizing the sets, costumes, wigs, and props in an interesting and cohesive way. We even got to purchase some butterbeer ice cream (which I would kill to be able to buy in the States). But the best feeling I experienced was when I walked into the final room where the giant model of Hogwarts was set up. It was breath-taking. I remember being completely awestruck, and not wanting to leave the room.

But there was one thing this week that made the tour that much more unforgettable. Unfortunately it was the tragic, saddening news of Alan Rickman’s death, who played Severus Snape in the films. I remember discovering the news of his death in a restaurant, and immediately went into denial. I had to call my mother in the States to ask if she’d seen it on the news, and as soon as she said yes, I broke down crying. It really, really bummed out the rest of my day, especially since I was still not over the death of David Bowie a few days prior. It was a rough week in some respects, but we actually all got to talk about it in class with Connie, and she said something I won’t forget. We have experienced the loss of two legendary British men, who have affected us all in some way. We feel it even more here in London than we would have back home, because they died in this city, and London is grieving more than any other. Their faces are all over the paper, impossible to ignore. And their death has become part of our London experience. For me in particular, it has impacted me greatly. Just a few days prior I was gushing over one of my favorite actor’s costumes and the sets he used for 10 years while filming Harry Potter, and then I discover that he has passed, and that I will never see any new work from him. And ever since Bowie’s passing, many of the theatres and cafes I have walked into have been playing one of his hits. So many of my favorite songs. Impossible to escape.

I am so happy that I am here to celebrate both Alan Rickman and David Bowie’s life. London was an important part of both of them, and how lucky am I to walk the same streets and see the same sights that greatness once did. This is quite a memorable, unpredictable journey indeed.imageimageimageimageimageimage

My name is Amber Neilson, and I'm a senior Theatre Arts major. Traveling is my new favorite thing, as I've spent most of my life in the Hudson Valley. I love to sing, act, and direct, and I'm a Harry Potter fanatic!

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