Aside from the shops, there is also a bit of site seeing to do. At least if you are a Harry Potter Fan. For Platform 9 ¾ is indeed where all students of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry embark on their journey. When I went there last year, I was able to see a student's trolley, sticking halfway through a wall, as if travelling between the muggle and wizard world. Although there were a few tourists taking pictures, it was in clear view.
Yesterday, when I went, however, a huge crowd obstructed the scene from sight. Why had it become so unbelievably popular all of a sudden? As I squeezed through the crowd, the answer became clear. People were lining up to have their photo taken. Not just a photo taken by buddies, however, but a professional photo.
The trolly has been there for years, so I was wondering why it had taken this long for a photographer to finally decide to start exploiting it. Again, I soon received my answer, for next door but one stood the Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 ¾. It turns our that last year I missed its opening by only a couple of months, for Warick Davis officially opened its doors on the 15th December 2013.
At the till, I found out what the photo shoot was all about. The guy who was holding up your scarf gets edited out, so that it looks like the scarf is flying in the winding as you run through the wall. It is really quite effective, and a lovely memento to take home with you. It costs £9.99 for one photo, £15 for two, or £20 for three.
Had this been the first Harry Potter shop I had come across, my excitement would have known no bounds, but I have in fact come across many places selling similar merchandise, such as the larger gift shop at Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour, a section in Hamelys, and exhibitors at the London Film and Comic Convention. All of these sell merchandise at more reasonable prices. For example, wands by Noble are £24.99 wherever I have been before, but here they are £29.99. You can also get Olivanders wands for £32.99. These are slightly more elaborate and shinier, but personally I think the Noble collection looks better anyway.
Other typical memorabilia you would expect to find includes mugs, posters, keyrings, badges, patches, Top Trumps, and Trivial Pursuit.
For more interesting display items, you can get prop replica's, such as Marvolo Gaunt's ring, Hermione Granger's time-turner, Romilda Vane's love potion, etc.
While a lot of the things there you can find at other stockists, there is an almost equal mount of exclusive products. For example, there are crystal images embedded in glass, limited edition signed prints, a model of the Hogwarts Express, and a model of Hogwarts itself.
My favourite things, however, were the items of clothing. You can get cheapish Harry Potter uniforms from costume shops or online, but The Harry Potter Shop at Platform 9 ¾ sells quality uniforms, with clothing that includes lamb wool cardigans (59.99), scarves (£39.99), ties (£19.99), and best of all, beautiful quiddich house jumpers (£69.99).
Of course, we should not forget how Harry Potter began. As a book. You can now buy the most recent edition of the Harry Potter series with brand new cover art. Illustrated by Jonny Duddle, the characters look fantastic, especially Snape and Dobby (look at the back of the books). My only criticism is that Harry does not seem to age at all from book one to book seven.
Reading can be achieved in many forms, so if you fancy something other than a book, why not try a wall poster? Written in type four size font, it tells the entire story of the Philosopher's Stone. If you prefer to read eBooks, then you can also buy Pottermore Gift Cards, where you can download the books onto Kindle, iPad, or other tablets.
Although expensive, Christmas is just around the corner, so it is that time of year, where indulgences can be justified.
Enjoyed being there with you in pictures. When I was in England (Milton Keynes to be exact, where I have 10 first cousins - my mum's 3 brothers migrated there about 60 years ago) I really enjoyed the Roald Dahl museum in Aylesbury :) being a RD fan :)