Experience: The Making of Harry Potter
Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean it is not real?"
- Albus Dumbledore (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows)
Note: originally posted on Once Upon A Sojourn; I own all content.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
Studio Tour Drive, Leavesden, England
Travel date: 2014
"Harry potter fans must visit. Awesome place!!!"
This was definitely the highlight of our London trip this past summer, and one of the main reasons why we visited London.
I am not going to talk about what you will see on the tour – you can find all those details on the Warner Bros. Studio’s website. Instead, I want to share a few tips on how to make the best of your trip.
- Tickets must be purchased in advance. You cannot buy tickets at the studio. We ordered our tickets online 2 months ahead from Canada and were sent an email confirmation. We presented the confirmation at the studio on the day of the visit to collect the admission tickets. The process was very simple.
- It’s worthwhile to purchase the complete studio tour package, which comes with a digital guide and a paperback souvenir book. The digital guide (headset) is very useful and provides interesting information about the sets, costumes, and props. We collected the souvenir books at the end of the tour in the gift shop and upgraded one of the books to a hard copy by paying the price difference.
- There are designated time slots allocated to the tickets, to control the traffic. Try to book the first tour of the day to avoid the crowds. You can stay in the studio as long as you want (except the first part of the tour inside the Great Hall, which is a guided tour, and you’re only allowed a certain time there before the next group comes in). The rest of the studio you can explore on your own at your own pace.
- There are tour buses (operated by Golden Tours) going from London to the studio. However, the tour bus schedule only allows 3.5 hours at the studio. I don’t think that is sufficient for the true Potter fans. We spent almost 5 hours going through the exhibits, half an hour for lunch, and an hour in the souvenir shop. This is a full-day visit!
- The studio is easily accessible by public transport. From our hotel (Plaza on the River near Vauxhall station), we took a cab to Euston Railway Station (cost us £14 which was not much more than what we would have paid for the underground for 3 persons), and then took the train from Euston to Watford Junction. Just outside Watford Junction station, there’s a shuttle bus going to the studio (£2 return fare per person).
- Butter Beer is available only in the Backlot. The Studio Café in the lobby does not sell Butter Beer. The only other place you can get Butter Beer is at Universal Studios. We bought 3 hot dogs and 3 Butter Beer in the Backlot for £22.
- Some of the items in this Souvenir Shop are also available at the Harry Potter store at King’s Cross Train Station, but they are more expensive at King’s Cross.*
- This is different from The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios (which we visited before and also enjoyed very much). This is where all the real props and sets are located. There are thousands of props being exhibited and you get close looks at most of them.
Overall, we were (positively) overwhelmed by the experience and we will definitely want to visit again.
*Note: some items can also be ordered online, and/or purchased at the Universal Studios parks