1. You feel like a child.
It's the Great Hall! You smash toddlers and parents with prams aside as you charge into the room.
Thought the whole thing was CGI magic? No, they built this place from scratch. It looks pretty much as it did in the films — even the candles are floating above the tables (although you can see the wires).
In fact, for the first half hour or so, you're just in awe. You're reminded that for just over a decade, Britain built a magical world of winter balls and curvy secret passages...
Everything just looks amazing.
2. You end up completely sucked into Harry's magical world.
You stagger in a daze from one exhibit to another, a gormless expression of joy on your face.
3. You're blown away by the ambition and amount of work that went into everything.
Look at Dumbledore's office. Just LOOK AT IT. Those bookshelves are phone directories that have been rebound and covered in dust.
And building a world takes incredible skill. The concept art and the detailed models alone took many, many hours.
They're quite stunning.
And a huge number of actual documents were made for the movies — there were thousands of letters for a start, but they had to be rewritten after they were found to be too heavy for the owls.
Some of the props — like the Magic is Might statue and the entrance to the Chamber of Secrets — are ludicrously oversized.
In total, 588 sets were built for the eight movies.
4. You realise that however lost in this world you might be, there are people far more lost than you.
6. And then you remember that Harry Potter was quite bleak sometimes.
And it was also about the disfunctionality, disconnect, and lack of love in some foster families.
You ask yourself, was Harry Potter ever really a story about magic at ALL? For example, who was really scarier: Voldemort or Dolores Umbridge, a woman whose main trait was the strength of her conviction in her own righteousness, a person we've met, by degrees, over and over in our lives?
7. And then you wonder if you should have come here.
Because it's destroying the magic. Quidditch: an elaborate and highly technical deception. It didn't happen.
In fact, half the time you weren't even watching real people.
8. The harrowing truth about adulthood hits you.
The houses of Hogwarts aren't houses any more. They are brands. And you aren't a fan any more. No, my friend, you are a consumer. Work, earn, consume. Work, earn, consume, to the bitter end.
9. And then something rather beautiful happens.
And you're just blown away by this thing. It's gigantic. But what really hits you is the amount of love that must've gone into making it. And suddenly you realise — yes, Potter is an industry. It always was.
And yes, you're old and cynical and now you can't help but notice that fact. But does it really matter? Because if it's an industry, it's still one that makes thousands of people happy. There are hundreds of kids running around this place right now, with huge grins on their faces. And that has to be a good thing, doesn't it?
No story lives unless someone wants to listen. The stories we love best do live in us forever. So whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.
11. Then you realise that, like every other kid, you were just miserable because you wanted a wand.
It took a while, but we got there. Notice how the tip immediately glistened with magic once I'd found the correct one for me. Either that or I'm terrible at photography.