For a Harry Potter enthusiast like myself, this tour was without a doubt a ‘must do’ experience. More interestingly however, I left the studio feeling like someone with even a basic appreciation for the series would thoroughly enjoy the insight it gave into this worldwide phenomena.
Tips for before you go:
1) Book a morning tour (before 1pm).
Whilst the Harry Potter Studio Tour is stated to last approximately 3 hours it would be very easy to spend 5 hours exploring the displays. Therefore, to ensure you do not feel rushed (like I did, having booked a 1pm tour), I would highly recommend booking earlier in the day. This means you can take your time as there is no restriction once you enter other than its closing hour at 4pm.
2) Get the ‘long lines’ over with first.
Apart from the first 45 minutes of the tour where a host takes you to watch an exclusive short film and guides you through the amazing great hall set, the remainder of the tour is self guided. I would recommend walking straight through to the green screen areas (for example, the broomsticks and flying car) and lining up as soon as you complete the great hall section, then making your way back to the beginning and going through the props and sets displays. I spent about 1 hour in line (totally worth it haha), but in hindsight it would have been great to do that section first so there was less of a line, then have more time to wander the various rooms.
3) Gift shop before the tour
Before the tour begins the gift shop is significantly less packed. Even if you are not buying items the sheer vastness and detail is worth a proper peruse and is much more enjoyable with less people around. As it is requested you arrive 20 mins before your tour starts anyway, this is the perfect time instead of spending it lining up (because once the doors open they just put you all in the same room anyway, the line doesn’t matter). If you end up buying items at the gift shop and do not want to carry them around with you on the tour you can take advantage of the free cloakroom service.
Getting to the Harry Potter Studio from London:
Using my 16-25 Railcard discount I purchased a return off peak ticket with the London Midland service from London Euston Station to Watford Junction for £7.00.
From there, a return transfer shuttle from Watford Junction to the actual studio costs £2.00. The shuttle itself is a Harry Potter themed bus which is sure to heighten your anticipation!
As mentioned before, when planning your journey keep in mind it is asked to arrive 20 minutes before your scheduled ticket time.
Harry Potter Studio Tour Review:
Let me start off by saying that when I called myself a ‘Harry Potter enthusiast’ this was a severe understatement – I have legitimately lost count of the times I have read each of the books, watched each of the movies and I can’t even fathom the amount of time I have spent discussing and raving about the series with friends and family. I was one of kids in 2003 who dragged their mum to line up with them at 6am in the morning for the Order of The Phoenix book release, returning to that line once again in 2005 and 2007 for the final instalments. The first movie came out in my Year 1 and the final movie came out in 2011, my senior year. For me this studio tour was an extension of the story that encompassed my childhood so as I arrived at my destination I could barely contain my excitement to once again delve into the world of Harry Potter. Keeping this is mind, this is how the day played out…
The first part of the tour is guided by a host who (at least appeared) to be a genuine Harry Potter fan and really encouraged a enthusiastic and positive atmosphere. After viewing an exclusive Harry Potter Studio Tour short film you make your way into the famous Great Hall. This set was still decorated for Christmas due to the fact I was visiting in winter.
After this is completed you begin the self guided tour, entering a massive room filled with film sets, props, special effect demonstrations, green screens and interactive activities. I loved having a go at the green screens and seeing all the real costumes used by the actors and actresses. Some of my favourite items included the Yule Ball props used in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.
About half way through the self-guided section you enter the food court where there is a cafe that provides snacks and lunch items. More importantly however, this is your chance to try Butterbeer! A normal cup (shown below) is £2.95 and the souvenir cup was £4.00. If you are planning on getting the souvenir cup like my friend purchased, be sure to bring a plastic bag along as the cup is quite sticky to just hold or put in your bag as is! For those of you who are curious – to me Butterbeer tasked like a sweet creaming soda with a light caramel froth 🙂
After the food court you exit to an outdoor area where you get to view sets such as Privet Drive, the Potters Godric Hollow Cottage, the Hogwarts bridge (shown below) and the Knight Bus. As this is an outside area and I visited in winter I was really glad I decided to keep my coat on me instead of handing it into the cloakroom with my bags, so keep this in mind depending on when you are visiting as you can spend about half an hour in this section easily.
From there the focus turned to the villains and monsters of the Harry Potter world…
Dare I say my ‘favourite’ section of the tour was walking through Diagon Alley. No photo can do this set justice 🙂
After this the final rooms focused on the thousands of sketches and miniature models that went into creating the landscapes and sets. This came to a grand finale when you enter the giant Hogwarts model room which was breathtaking and a highlight for most people.
After this, you exit through Olivanders Wand shop through to the gift shop where the tours ends.
To experience Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour, tickets can be purchased online. If you qualify for a Family or Group booking do check out their ticking information for further details as you may qualify for discounted prices. Tickets currently cost:
|Adult (16+ years)||£33.00|
|Child (5-15 years and must be accompanied by an adult)||£25.50|
|4 and Under (tickets are required for children aged 4 and under)||Free|
To top off an absolutely wonderful day, as I exited the studio it started snowing!! It was the first time I had EVER seen snow! One could say it was a ‘magical’ moment… 😉
Suitcase And I attended Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour as a paying customer and as always, my opinion is my own.