In the heart of Hampshire, just before Halloween, something very special happens. Muggles and wizards come together in unison to enjoy The Watercress Line’s exceptional Wizard Weekend.

In the morning, Luke and Oscar donned their matching spooky skeleton Halloween costumes, to ensure that we really got into the swing of things, and we flew out of the door, eager for the day ahead.

The Wizard Express train pulls up in a cloud of steam at Alton station and transports muggles and wizards alike to a Harry Potter themed day out that captures the magic of the nation’s favourite teenage wizard…

Catching The Wizard Express

Arriving at Alton station is a breeze, there is ample car parking here at a reasonable price, however this time we opted to take the train. From where we live, Alton is only a 20 minute ride away so it made sense and also added an extra flare of excitement for Luke, who, like many kids his age, loves the thrill of riding on the train.

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

We swapped platforms and were greeted by the station master, who was dressed very smartly and was able to tell us where we needed to go for our tickets. We popped into the small shop that is situated on the platform, selling all sorts of Mid Hants Railway and steam train goodies, for our tickets and we were also given a small pack of activities for Luke. This was a great free addition, as it kept Luke happily occupied while we were on the Wizard Express between stations.

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Just like when we visited Thomas and his friends on the Watercress Line, we decided to start at the furthest station and work our way back towards Alton. This meant finding a table on the carriage and settling in for roughly a 45 minute ride through Hampshire’s picturesque countryside. We were heading for the furthest station on the Watercress Line, Alresford.

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

The Watercress Line Wizard Weekend – Alresford

When we arrived, we hopped off the train and headed into Alresford. The station building you walk through has a gift shop {we’ve previously bought many a toy train in here} and a good set of facilities, including disabled and baby change rooms. It’s worth mentioning here that if you need the toilet before you get to the station, there are loos available on the steam train but they do not have baby change facilities or any disabled access.

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Look familiar? You will have seen a Ford Anglia just like this flying through the sky in Harry Potter and the Chamber Of Secrets.

Meeting Dumbledore

We headed outside and immediately headed towards the actual carriage that was used in not just one, but two of Harry Potter films. We were greeted by Dumbledore in his magnificent wizard robes. Dumbledore was waiting to greet all the little witches and wizards, along with their muggle friends, before entering the carriage. The queue was quite long but a photo with Hogwart’s esteemed headmaster and a peek through the windows kept us entertained. It moved relatively quickly and soon we were at the front of the line.

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

The Carriage From The Films

In the first carriage, there was a wand making station and lots of Harry Potter merchandise up for sale. There was also a goblin from Gringotts Bank sorting out some precious treasures. As we moved through, we were able to jump into the train compartments and take lots of selfies. We managed to meet Newt and Credence (I think?) from the Harry Potter spin-off franchise, Fantastic Beasts. Luke even got up close and personal with The Dark Lord himself, jumping into a compartment with Lord Voldemort, a masked Death Eater {I bet it was Lucius Malfoy} and, my favourite evil witch, Bellatrix Lestrange. Ultimate #SquadGoals. He was a bit skeptical at first because all the costumes looked superb and were definitely a bit spooky – Voldemort looked amazing – but the masked Death Eater beckoned him closer and gave him his wand to hold…before lunging over him for a menacing photo. I must admit it was really hard to get pictures of the characters in the train carriage because of how sunny it was {yes, I’m being awfully British and complaining about the good weather}, but I can’t see any way around that. Even if I had taken the DSLR, it still would have taken quite a while to get the right settings and the right exposure, which would have held up everyone else.

Moving on, we came into an open carriage; the one that Mikey and I were most looking forward to seeing! This was the very same carriage that was used in Harry Potter and The Half Blood Prince and it also featured in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows Part 1. Hampshire and Surrey have quite a few film locations I love visiting them, so this was a really special treat as you don’t usually get very close to the props etc. The train carriage was full of replica items from the movies; including the house flags, Hermione’s S.P.E.W leaflets, a framed photo of Lily Potter, the sorting hat and Professor Trelawney’s tea leaves showing The Grim. It was really cool walking through here and losing yourself in the Wizarding World. We exited the carriage, assisted by the charming Dumbledore, and made our way to our first Wizard Weekend ‘Selfie Spot’.

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Platfrom 9 ¾ Selfie Spot

One of the most iconic moments from the Harry Potter films is watching the young witches and wizards make their way to the Hogwarts Express via Platform 9 ¾. If you can’t make it to King’s Cross Station for a selfie, worry not, as The Watercress Line has it’s very own Platform 9 ¾ selfie spot! Luke and I both grabbed Harry Potter’s trolley and posed, pretending that we were halfway between the wizarding world and the muggle world. I wish that we have posed more and pulled some silly faces, but there was quite a queue, as it seemed to be a very popular attraction. Other people were taking some brilliant photos and so many visitors had put lots of effort into dressing up as Harry Potter characters.

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Hi-Fiving a Tarantula

Any Harry Potter fan will know that you can’t get by in the wizarding world without a little help from some creepy crawlies; specifically spiders. We headed back to the station building and went upstairs to meet some very special little critters. A long table was set up on one side of the room with lots of creatures {potentially from the Forbidden Forest?} for the children and adults to look at. I really liked the Praying Mantis’ – there were quite a few and the children were encouraged to see if they could spot them despite their excellent camouflage. A table full of creepy crawlies can’t complete without a bowl of cockroaches, right?

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

The cherry on top was one of Aragog’s little friends – the tarantula. The charming man who was holding the tarantula was great with the children and taught us a little bit about tarantulas and told us how to hi-five and shake hands with her! To my surprise, Luke was very keen; but this meant that if my 5 year old could do it without being scared, I kind of had to do it too. In the end, we both hi-fives and shook hands with her; Mikey and Oscar suspiciously walked away…

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

 

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

On the other side of the room, there were plenty of refreshments and snacks available for weary wizards and witches. There were also lots of seats arranged for people to relax and enjoy their food and drink without having to stand up.

Jumping Back On The Wizard Express

When we arrived at Alton, we were also given a leaflet that had the train timetables on, so making sure we were back in time to catch the next train was straight forward. We once again found our seats and enjoyed the short trip between Alresford and Ropley.

The Watercress Line Wizard Weekend – Ropley

Ropley is where a lot of the action took place. Here, you could take part in so many activities, grab some food and even enjoy a ride on the miniature railway.

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

King’s Cross Station Bridge Selfie Spot

By this time, we were hungry and we needed to grab a snack! We exited the Wizard Express and took out our map. It showed us that the other side of the station was open and that’s where all the food, face painting and even the magic show was located, so we set off to find some lunch. This meant heading over a bridge, but of course, with this being the Wizarding World, it wasn’t just any old bridge. Nope! We were walking across real King’s Cross footbridge from the films, which meant there was another special ‘Selfie Spot’ to take advantage of.

The Train Yard

Completely unrelated to the Harry Potter Wizard Weekend experience, we walked through the train yard and that was really exciting for the whole family. Having never been up close and personal to any steamies, we found it really exciting and had to take a picture of Luke standing next to some impressivel engines. The view from this part of Ropley was also absolutely stunning. You really are in the heart of Hampshire’s countryside and it reminded me how lucky I am to live in such a beautiful place.

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Food, Glorious Food

If you’re a vegetarian, like me, there are limited food options. You could treat yourself to the standard burger, a handmade pizza or you could head towards the extremely eye catching ‘Cookie Bar’. The Cookie Bar is an old Routemaster Double Decker bus, that has been turned into a charity focused cafe. Established in 2011, The Cookie Bar invests 100% of their profits back into society and provides young people with disabilities a safe and forgiving environment where they can gain work experience. As well as being an awesome cause, they also sold fantastic cakes, cookies, milkshakes, coffees and other drinks.

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Face Painting & Miniature Railway

As with all good family days out, Ropley station had a face painting station set up. This was quite expensive in my opinion, and after buying all the food and drinks, they £40 in cash we’d taken was starting to dwindle a bit. Thankfully, Luke didn’t actually fancy getting his face painted, although I still would have paid if he’d changed his mind. One thing I noticed was that everything was pretty much paid for in cash but there didn’t seem to be any ATMs around, which meant you had to plan ahead and factor in things like visits to the shop and face painting.

We headed off to find the miniature railway next. When we visited Ropley before for A Day Out With Thomas, we sadly missed out on riding the miniature railway, so we decided we absolutely had to do it this time. Mikey and Luke went on it while I took Oscar and headed off explore the rest of Ropley’s attractions. They said it was fun but a little windy!

Meet Hedwig’s Friends

While the boys were on their own, Oscar and I headed off to see the owls. Fans of Harry Potter will know that Hedwig was a huge part of the story line and at Ropley there was the opportunity to hold owls just like her. I think it was around £1 to hold an owl, which is pretty reasonable.

Wizard Weekend - a Harry Potter family day out review at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

The Magic Show and Tours

Can you have a Wizard Weekend without a magic show? Of course not! Over the bridge and to the left, tucked away out of sight, we found the mystical magic show. It was great fun to watch and the whole family enjoyed it. The magic shows are on a timetable, so it’s well worth planning your visit around them so you don’t miss out.

There are also guided tours around Ropley that are schedule throughout the day. Each tour takes around 30 minutes and takes you to various sites around Ropley station. We opted to visit somewhere else instead of taking the tour, so I can’t personally say if it’s worth it or not, but it does sound like an interesting way of learning a little more about the area.

Broomstick Making

All little witches and wizards need to ensure they have a quality broomstick to make sure they’re on top form when it comes to Quidditch practice! At Ropley, aspiring chasers, keepers, beaters and seekers can make sure they’re top of their class by making their very own broomstick. This looked like really great fun and I saw so many children beaming from ear to ear with pride over their new broomsticks.

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Time To Head Home

After a long day out at The Watercress Line’s magical Wizard Weekend, it was time for us to jump on the Wizard Express one final time. The ride home was nice and we watched the dappled autumn light trickle in as the sun began to set behind the tree line. A beautiful end to a fabulous family day out. We all really enjoyed our trip to the Mid Hants Railway, and loved the Wizard Weekend on The Watercress Line. All the characters had put so much effort into their costumes and looked amazing, especially Voldemort and Professor Trelawney, and it was so heartwarming to see loads of children using their imaginations and losing themselves to the Wizarding World. As a family, we would 100% go again and I look forward to booking tickets for next October. There really is something for everyone and my biggest boy was absolutely chuffed to bits. I can’t wait until Wizard Weekend 2019! If you’re looking for a fantastic day out in Hampshire that will have something for every member of the family, I would highly recommend The Watercress Line Wizard Weekend event, as well as their other fsmily days out that they host throughout the year.

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

Day Out: Wizard Weekend At The Watercress Line at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

What You Need To Know

  • The Watercress Line Wizard Weekend takes places on the 27th and 28th October.
  • Ticket Prices: Adult £17 / Child (aged 2-16 yrs) £9 / Child under 2 FREE / Family (2A + 2C) £43
  • If you are travelling by car, you may wish to drive to and park at Ropley station, where the parking is free. Parking in Alton station will require payment.
  • I recommend taking plenty of cash for food, drinks and attractions.
  • There are basic toilet facilities on the steam train. Disabled toilets and baby change can be found in Alresford. There are also toilets in Ropley station.
  • Dress up is optional but encouraged! You can either dress up as your favourite Harry Potter character, or you can go as something Halloween themed and spooky. There are daily fancy dress competitions upstairs in Alresford’s station building.

*We were sent tickets to Wizard Weekend in exchange for an honest review. All words and photos are my own.

Wizard Weekend - a Harry Poter themed day out at The Water Cress Line review at https://lukeosaurusandme.co.uk

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