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Next stop - Leavesden?

So, the Harry Potter Studio Tour opened over a year ago, but I still haven't been. Perhaps I'm not as dedicated a fan as all my non-HP friends think - or perhaps I just don't want to go without the company of other fans.

Judging by Saturday night, I'm not the only one. So, who's up for a group trip?

I've had a few thoughts about how this might work, so I'll share those and open it up to other suggestions. Based on what comes out of that, I'll put up a poll a little later to choose dates etc.

There are a few things to think about:

Time of year
I'm thinking that March would be the best time to do it, for several reasons:
  • Late winter can be bleak, and we need something to look forward to!

  • Low season should make travel cheaper for people coming a distance

  • January is risky weather-wise and post-Christmas can be tight financially

  • Early February also risky weather-wise, and late February weekends bookend school half term holidays so likely to be busier

  • March also risks snow, judging by this year, but it can't happen two years in succession, can it?

  • April onwards is getting into tourist season so higher prices, busier and perhaps more people having other committments. Also students getting into exam-time...

  • Maybe it's just me, but there always seems to be more going on in October and November than January-March...

  • December would be awesome if they dress the set for Christmas... but an expensive, busy time of year for most people

Time of week
I'd originally thought arrival on Saturday for our usual frolicsome games, and tour on Sunday - but wouldn't it be more fun to come together to squee afterwards? Which would make Saturday the logical choice (and the tour opens an hour earlier on Saturdays in Feb/March too). So I'm thinking:

Arrive, catch up in hotel bar (as some will be coming from work, arrival times will likely be scattered so perhaps not a good idea to have something organised then?)

Morning - Get to the tour nice and early (9-10am). Officially it takes 3 hours, but for fans I understand it's more like 5-7. It would be awesome to organise something like wand-waving classes, though I suspect that would be way expensive...

Evening - Eat together in the evening (ideally I'd want to eat in the Great Hall, but £325 per person is a little over my budget! If I ever become stupidly rich, I am so hosting a fandom party there... but in the absense of friendly millionaires, there has to be a reasonably priced restaurant in Watford that would welcome a large group in March!

Night - Pictionary! And swag-comparing! Would we even want something organised or would we all be too excited?

Leisurely breakfast and depart, with or without hangovers

Where to stay
There's a lovely hotel very close to the tour, but on reflection I think it would be better to go for one of the (presumably less wedding-prone) chain hotels in the centre. I'm seeing prices of £50-£90 per room - perhaps we could get a group rate with enough of us. If we chose a hotel near the station, we can use the £2 shuttle bus to get to the tour, and that will also make it easy for people from London to join us for the day/evening if they wish (though if lots of people want to do that, perhaps we should aim for 10am rather than 9am start?).

The tour would be £28 each, plus £2 for bus from Watford. There's an option of spending £5 on an audio guide (reviews suggest that might not work well in a group, but if you want to be accompanied by Tom Felton...) and £10 on a guidebook, and whatever you want in the souvenir shops...

Interested? Here's an initial poll - just to get an idea of numbers when looking at potential hotel/tour/food arrangements. A more detailed 'now choose' poll will follow when we have some choices to choose from. Meanwhile, please share your thoughts in the comments.

And does anyone has a burning desire to help deal with hotels etc?

Poll #1934719 Leavesden - gathering of the fans

Will you be there? (Assuming dates work for you)

Yes! Yes! Yes!
Sadly no

Assuming we visit on Saturday, would you want accommodation in Watford:

Friday night
Saturday night
I'll be daytripping


( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Sep. 19th, 2013 10:52 pm (UTC)

You are so so fast with this! Hurry with the dates so I can book and get excited!!!!

Also, if you need help organising this, feel free to ask for my help. I can be a good house-elf *nods*
Sep. 20th, 2013 01:26 am (UTC)
Oh gosh, we would absolutely love to, but we'll have to take a look and see if we can afford it! Hopefully, though :) It would be amazing.

Edited at 2013-09-20 01:31 am (UTC)
Sep. 20th, 2013 06:33 am (UTC)
This would be fantastic!

I picked that I'd only be staying the night in Watford on Saturday, but that's subject to change (with the addition of Friday) depending on my job situation and how easily I'll be able to find a flight that works for me. So I picked that on the off chance that I'd be able to get to London Friday night, but have to head to Watford in the morning (as it might otherwise be far too late).

The Great Hall sounds like fun, but yeah, way out of budget! That's almost the entirety of the budget for everything else (for me).

And March sounds good for all the reasons you listed, plus I have a lot of birthdays for nephews and the like in the other months, and they aren't too happy if I miss their birthday party (but not their brother's).

As I don't know right now what my job situation will be like, I can't even say that I will be able to join for sure, but once I know closer to the date, I would be happy to help in any way that I can.
Sep. 20th, 2013 08:31 am (UTC)
I am totally there!!! Especially as my birthday is in March and next year falls on a Saturday so I could have an excuse not to work on my birthday!
Sep. 20th, 2013 09:06 am (UTC)
This sounds like a great idea. I've been meaning to book a tour, but it wouldn't be the same with just me (or me-and-non-Potter-fan-friend).

Count me as a London daytripper (though I might spring for a night in a hotel near the station).
Sep. 20th, 2013 09:43 am (UTC)
I'd love to come to this one if the dates work out! I will probably be daytripping :)
Sep. 20th, 2013 12:39 pm (UTC)
Yes, yes, yes!

March sounds great!

I am all for asking the de Vere Hotel for a quote - wedding season generally starts around May and they might be glad to have a group coming in the off season.

Give me a shout if you need/want help organising!
Sep. 22nd, 2013 04:17 pm (UTC)
Yes, it's worth asking, though if we only end up with 10 I'm not sure we'd have much leverage to bargain for a discount.

But I'm wondering whether a more central place wouldn't be better anyhow - more choice of places to eat without being restricted to hotel restaurant (though again, if they were willing to do us a deal and a private room...) and it would be more accessible for people arriving by train. My main reason for thinking of the de Vere place was that it's close to the studios - but with the shuttle bus from the station that's less of an issue. (Or maybe it would be easier to share taxis.)

As folk seem generally happy with March and not unhappy with Saturday, I think I'll put up a date poll and leave it for a week or two to allow people to spread the word, then we can look at more specific arrangements?
Sep. 25th, 2013 06:34 am (UTC)
A hotel closer to the station/central might also generally be geared towards business people (in Watford though? most hotels there are probably used to HP people coming in during the weekends) which would mean they'd be more likely to accept a group on a weekend for a discount, even if we're "not that many".
Sep. 21st, 2013 06:41 am (UTC)
Definitely up for the tour!!
Sep. 24th, 2013 09:52 am (UTC)
March is good, but I'll need to confirm later.
It's worth getting in early, as there is much to see and I took all day when I went. SOOOO many photo ops, and full dress, please! Yay!
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
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