It’s almost Halloween so I thought it is good timing to write about fun and “magical” visit at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter”.
My family and I most recently visited London for the 2022 Laver Cup London. Given that we’re also fans of Harry Potter books and movies, we also planned an outing to the Studio Tour attraction. Technically, the studio tour is located in Leavesden, which is about 18 miles from London. Depending on traffic and mode of transportation, it can take anywhere from 40 minutes to an hour to get there.
We had decided to book a Golden tour before our trip. We didn’t want to deal with transportation logistics for this segment of the trip. It was an easy choice to go with Golden Tour because it is listed as a preferred partner of the Studio.
Where to Meet for the Tour
Booking the tour online was easy enough. I got a confirmation email along with the QR code. You don’t need to print a copy, but being a little paranoid when it comes to these things, I printed a copy anyway. Depending on the tour date time, the meeting point would either be at Victoria Bus Station or the King Cross Station. We opted for the latter, because it was more fun for us embark at King Cross (a nod to Harry Potter’s 9 3/4 Platform to Hogwarts Express).
Our meeting point is simply listed “King Cross Station Bus Stop, Pancras Road”. When you come out the station, it’s a pretty bustling area given that St Pancras International Railway is there too. We wandered a bit before we found the bus meeting spot across from a cream-color building. It’s just a regular bus stop with no signage that it is also the meeting point for the Golden Tour buses. Fortunately, a staff member was there and he confirmed that we were at the right place. If this is your first visit to London, I’d suggest buffering a little extra time to find your meeting location. You don’t want to miss your scheduled bus departure time.
The Bus Ride
Soon enough, a Harry Potter themed double-decker bus arrived to pick us up. The upper deck is a popular choice. Even though the bus is HP themed, the ride is no different than a regular bus ride. It’s a shame because it would be fun if the ride has special themed announcements or atmosphere but I’m guessing it’s a licensing issue. Instead, you get a set of earbuds when you board. There is a small TV monitor in front of each seat, so you can watch other tours that are provided by the tour operator (such as tours to Bath or Stonehenge)
Alternatively, you could choose to watch one of the pre-selected Harry Potter movies. I forgot which one, but I think they were playing the Chamber of Secrets. They were also playing the movie on the bigger monitor on the bus, so you don’t control the pace of the movie. You can watch half the movie on the ride there, and the remaining half on the return.
About 45 minutes later, we arrived at the studio. A studio member came to the bus – as you exit, they would hand you the admission tickets for your party. Make sure you get your tickets before you leave the bus.
And that’s it for the transportation portion. The driver kindly reminded us of the time we need to be back for the return, and off we went. We visited on a Monday, which is not generally considered busy. Even though we got there about 15 minutes earlier than our timed admission, there were no issues getting in a little earlier.
Once you get in, you’ll be at the Main Hall. You can sit, relax, buy snacks and drinks and admire the aerial views.
Starting the Adventure
When we were ready to begin the tour, we waited in line and watched a pre-clip before we’re led into a seated theater. The stage became…the entrance to Hogwarts (which I thought was very well done). The staff members did a really good job with the anticipation!
It started off with a familiar looking scene for anyone who’ve ever watched the movies. Even just the first one.
You can take pictures and check out the different “houses”. Then they will gently usher you out so that they can wow the next group.
From here on out, you’re on a self-guided tour. You can pace yourself through the rest of the studio tour.
Self Guided Tour (In Pictures)
If you watch the movies, you’ll quickly recognized many of the sets, costumes, and props, oh my!
Short Clips and Videos
A short video of a very close-in screen projection (which is amazingly realistic in person). Let’s just say, I wouldn’t want to be there at night by myself!
The good news is that there is a lot to see and you can see everything at your own pace. Luckily, if you get tired at a midway point, you can indulge yourself with a Butterbeer along with some muggle burgers at the Backlot Cafe.
Halfway through the Tour
After having a bite, you can head outside for some fresh air, maybe even check out a famous little house on Privet Drive.
Seriously, everyone needs to go in for a photo op with Mandrank and hear its squeals. It’s fun and interactive and everyone comes of it laughing. That is, unless you have to work there all day…
And then the tour resumes indoor…
There are “green screen” photo opportunities as well. I didn’t see big lines but the photo packages can be costly. If I remember correctly, the lowest priced photo package starts at 20 quid.
Then you’ll get the chance to visit Gringotts.
Then, before you know it, you’ll find yourself in a Forest that is apparently…Forbidden. Yet, everyone ignores the forbidden part and goes in to get creeped out by giant spiders. If you don’t go in, you would also miss Buckbeak and the Patronus.
Eventually, you’ll find yourself at
End of Tour
And that concludes the tour. As with most attractions, the end would inevitably lead you to…the gift shop, and it doesn’t disappoint either. I don’t have pictures of the gift shop but it is themed and it is impressive. You can buy chocolates, mugs, silverware, even broom, and things I might question if someone really needs (I might get a lot of flack here, but I’m thinking …wands). And so, of course, we picked up some small souvenirs.
At the end of the tour, we see this quote displayed on a screen. “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.” – J.K Rowling.
That is a lovely farewell quote to end the tour.
If you’re a big fan of Harry Potter movies and you’re interested in seeing the sets/costumes/props, then this Studio Tour won’t disappoint. I would recommend it. It is definitely much bigger and more interactive than I had even expected.
Have you done the Harry Potter Studios Tour? If so, what did you like or dislike most? Any great tips or advice you have for your fellow readers?