Harry Potter Studios Tour! (London – Day 3)

Hey there, Muggles! If you’re in the U.S., I hope you had a great Fourth of July! If you’re not, I still hope you had a great July 4th and a wonderful weekend!

Today, I’m really excited to share our day at Harry Potter Studios during our recent trip to London!

Fact: we had our Harry Potter Studios Tour booked before we even had a hotel room.

It’s true. This was John’s number one request, so as soon as we knew what week we’d be in London, we made sure to book our tickets to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter because if you don’t, you’re destined for disappointment (as in, it sells out quickly!).

A word of warning to you adult Potterheads…if you’re not a fan of obnoxious children and pre-teens, then you’ll want to take a Xanax or have a strong drink before this tour. Actually, most of the adults there are also irritating. Basically, bring a lot of patience with you.

Before getting into the exciting part, a little about tickets and transportation because that had me all kinds of stressed when we were in London (see post here for that drama). We bought the Adult Complete Studio Tour Package; it included the digital guide and a souvenir book (John wanted that…). If you plan on just rushing through, I wouldn’t recommend this ticket. I love digital guides (you can see it hanging from my neck in the second photo below) because I love learning and being able to walk through museums or tours at my own pace. If you’re not interested in a ton of information or are just there for the pictures, you probably won’t want a digital guide.

A ton of sites, like Viator, offer packages that include transportation. Most of those are really pricey, so we figured we’d just take the train and figure it out ourselves. The “Getting Here” info on the studio website is really helpful and straightforward. We took the tube to London Euston and from their caught the train to Watford Junction using our Oyster travel cards. Be aware when you’re catching the train that there are direct trains to Watford Junction and non-direct, which of course is the one we ended up on and it definitely takes longer than 20 minutes. When you arrive, exit the station and you’ll easily see the giant Warner Bros. Studios shuttle bus. Have your Harry Potter ticket ready to show and then you’ll need cash to pay the bus fee (which has apparently gone up to £3/person). After a short drive, you’ll be there! Easy peasy!

We had to wait in line to trade our online, printed tickets for actual ones, and then we finally got to go inside, pick up our digital guides, and be greeted by the dragon! (There’s a coat check and bathrooms as soon as you walk in, prior to the dragon room.) There are also bathroom stops throughout the tour, so don’t panic about holding it for hours…

We had 9:30am tickets. This pic was taken before our tour and this area was super crowded by the time we came out. I think earlier is better!

Now for the fun! This tour was amazing, and I highly recommend doing it if you love Harry Potter. I haven’t actually read the books (I knowwww. I was a book snob when I was younger and loved reading, which meant I snubbed my nose at Harry Potter because I thought, if it’s appealing to the masses it’s probably not very good. I was an ass, and I admit that). But I’ve seen the movies, so all these props and sets were familiar.

There’s another line in the “dragon atrium” that takes you by the cupboard under the stairs, and then into a room for a video. After that video, guess what?? Another video.

By now, everyone, even the adults, are shaking from anticipation. And now it’s time! The first official part of the tour is the Great Hall, which really is as exciting as all the blogs say it is. Try to sit in the front of the theater if you want to be one of the first ones into the hall.

The Great Hall is beautiful and contains a lot of the professors’ and students’ costumes.

You won’t have a ton of time in the Great Hall because they want to give each group who enters the same experience of seeing it empty. You’ll move into another huge room that curves around several times and contains SO MANY PROPS AND COSTUMES. There are several videos playing, so it’s kind of an overload on your senses. At this point you have as long as you want to wander through!

I was really excited to see props and costumes from the Yule Ball. The picture below doesn’t really show how beautiful the “ice” sculpture is!

I’m leaving out a lot of pictures because I don’t want to ruin everything if you’re planning on visiting. One of my favorite sets, though, was the Gryffindor Common Room. According to the digital guide, the actors frequently used this set as a place to hang out when they weren’t filming!

I also really loved the Headmaster’s Office where you can hang out with Dumbledore and all his books and gadgets!

Some of the coolest parts about the studio tour is learning about the camera tricks and special effects. Spoiler alert: the actor who plays Hagrid isn’t actually a half-giant, so a lot of what we see is the camera playing tricks on our eyes! The picture below is an example – I’m not really this large, but the camera and sizing of the table and chairs makes me look much larger than John.

The picture above still blows John’s mind.

You’ll also be able to see the sets for Professor Snape’s lab, Hagrid’s hut, quidditch equipment, the Weasley home, Malfoy Manor (with a very creepy Nagini), the atrium of the Ministry of Magic, more props than I could possibly keep up with, and Dolores Umbridge’s very pink and cat-filled office.

Next, you’ll walk into the Forbidden Forest (watch out for giant spiders!) and then curve around to Platform 9 3/4 where the Hogwarts Express will be waiting for you!

Forget the Muggle life, I’m going to Hogwarts!

Here you’ll have the opportunity to get a pic with the Hogwarts Express and even walk through it! There’s a gift shop here, also, and when you exit the train, you’ll find yourself at the Backlot Cafe (and if you had a 9:30 ticket, you’re probably ready for lunch!). John and I split a burger and fries, and of course we both got Butterbeer.

I had read that the Butterbeer here isn’t as good as what you get at Universal Studios in Orlando, Florida. Even though it was good, we both agreed that everyone is right – Universal’s is better.

You’ll have to walk outside the cafe to see a few more sets, including the Potter’s cottage and the Dursley house. Be sure to walk through so you can see the hurricane of letters!

The second exhibition hall contains a ton of information on how they made all the face masks/molds (the correct language is lost to me right now).

And then you’ll enter the brand new exhibit, Gringotts Wizarding Bank! It really is a beautiful exhibit, but if you’ve been to Universal Studios and experienced Escape from Gringotts, you’ll find quite a few similarities because Universal’s setup is also pretty spectacular.

Stay on high alert, though, because you might just experience a fire-breathing dragon 🙂

When you make your way out of Gringotts, you’ll end up in Diagon Alley. Sorry to be obnoxious and bring Universal up again, but this was a bit anticlimactic because Diagon Alley at Universal is so well done (and you can go in stores there).

After a quick walk through the alley, you’ll come upon the huge model of Hogwarts. It’s a bittersweet moment because although it’s beautiful and incredibly impressive, it’s also the end of the tour. Take in your last bit of magic (seriously, the Hogwarts model is so much better in person than in the picture, so revel in the last bit of Harry Potter magic!).

And that, my friends, is the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter! We both highly recommend a visit to Leavesden if you love Harry Potter. It really did feel like you became part of the magic and using one of our London days was absolutely worth it!

Now for one rant:

Other than the annoying kids who ran me over every second, it really bothered me that people seemed to be more focused on videoing and taking pictures than actually enjoying their time. I’m all for taking pics (a blog would be a bit pointless without pics, and I like having memories of my travels), but I think it’s important to also appreciate things in real life and not through a lens. John even said at one point that he wished cameras had never been invented. So many people were simply concerned about getting the perfect selfie, or just snapping a quick pic and moving on to the next thing, or videoing the whole thing (why did you pay for this if you’re not going to take the time to read about and enjoy it??). It kind of took away from the excitement. Also, could y’all stop it with the iPad pictures??

Rant over. Thanks for joining me on the Harry Potter journey! We still had a bit of the day left, so my next post will include the remainder of our day 3 in London!


 

4 Comments

  1. Caroline says:

    Wow, that bring back some really nice memories. I went there a couple of years ago with my cousin and we spent like 5 hours inside. I think we only got out because we wanted to see the shop before everything closed!! It’s a magical place for Harry Potter fans !

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Atrium says:

    You cannot afford to miss visiting this tour if you are an enthusiast of Harry Potter. You will never get another opportunity similar to the one that Warner Bros. is currently offering.

    Like

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