King's Cross Station*
You know the deal - home of the 9 3/4 platform, destination for anyone with the slightest interest in Harry Potter. We did our tourist duty and got in line to fake our trolley pics. The platform was "re-located" a couple of years ago to get the throngs of tourists/fanatics out of the way because, as you may not realize, King's Cross is a huge, bustling, real life train station. And it's actually just a cool place to walk around - the light and architecture were distracting me the entire time, which led to groans from my kids, who really just wanted to buy overpriced wands and chocolate frogs at the platform gift shop.
If you ever plan to do this, go early weekday mornings, before lunch time. We went through the station while heading to another event, and thought we could just walk up to the trolley all willy nilly. NO. There was a Disney-sized line with eager tweens, nerdy kids and their bedraggled parents, and awkward adults as far as the eye could see. There was even a queue to get into the shop. We managed to corner an employee and she told us when to come back. So, I ended up taking the kids on a Thursday morning. We got there around 10:30 and had to wait only 10 minutes to get our photo op. It's a free service - they do take a "professional" (read: on auto with flash) photo for everyone that you can purchase, but the props and the help, and the heckling, that's all free. The staff were really nice and helped each person get the photos they wanted. One guy, in particular, gave us all a stand up comedy lecture about the worst kind of photos to take, including committing the unforgivable sin of cutting off the actual platform sign. His best bit was about how to properly hold the wand with accompanying hand examples. "It's not a candle, it's not a knife, it's not a sword, it's not a lightsaber....." I think he might be in a professional slump, but I'm not judging. And generally the people in line are an eager, happy bunch, willing to help fling your scarf if needed.
And now an excess of photos that only my mom will care about:
* this post is dedicated to Enzo, Milo, and Lilliana. (We are still planning on going to see all the HP sets at Universal studios, just outside of London. We promise to report back.)