The Harry Potter Studio Tour is a must-see in London. About an hour outside of London, the tour needs to be at the top of your list for your trip to England. Whether you're a huge fan of Harry Potter like we are, or just a film buff, the Warner Brothers Studio is certain to entertain your family for hours.
The tour is packed with original sets, costumes and props used in the filming of the eight Harry Potter movies. Our family set aside a full day to take in the studio tour. Here's how we planned it and what you can expect.
We purchased our tickets ahead of time on the www.wbstudiotour.co.uk website. These tickets do sell out. I highly recommend buying tickets in advance. Tickets are £35 for adults and £27 for children.
Planning Your Day
While more ambitious families might try to squeeze in more into a day, we opted to make the Harry Potter tour the BIG part of our day in London. You should also see the London Eye and go to tea, but this tour can't be rushed. You'll need about 3.5 hours for the tour, plus time to shop. Transit time will take 3 hours or more round trip, depending on where you are staying in London.
We were staying in Pall Mall. That meant we had to get to Euston Station to get the train to Watford. In other words, Euston is on the tube Northern line at this stop you'll change to the National Rail to get to Watford.
Tip: Try to get the express train to Watford. The express will save you almost 45 minutes!
Once you get to Watford look for the Harry Potter bus. This will take you to the studio. The shuttle bus ride will take about 20 minutes and cost about £2.50 per person. Try to time your trio to get to Watford with about 45 minutes to spare. You'll want to have time to catch the shuttle and enter the studio.
Once you get to the studio you'll print your pre-ordered tickets or buy your tickets. From there we queued up. The line is anything but boring. The entrance hall has Harry's bedroom from under the stairs and other original props.
Once you've started the tour, you'll get a brief introduction to the story--how J.K.Rowling mesmerized the world with her story of a young wizard. And how Heyday films bought the rights and produced the films that were a worldwide sensation.
The big reveal...the great hall. This is THE GREAT HALL from the films. Including the stone floor and original costumes that Daniel Radcliff wore in the first film.
From this room, you'll enter the exhibits that hold even more of the world of wizards. Don't forget to press the stamps on your Harry Potter passbook. It's a treasure souvenir.
The potions room took my breath away. The set housed more than 500 bottles of potions. The level of detail is stunning.
In addition to the props and sets, there are great interactive displays like this wand instruction station. There was barely a line for this. My girls loved testing their skills.
There's also the chance to fly a broomstick! Get ready for quidditch. The line was long but the girls wanted to fly. There's a green screen behind you so it seems like you are flying through London and Hogwarts. Get ready...the pictures start at £40 for photos from your flying lesson.
What else did we love? Everything. I wish I spent more time in Diagon Alley and learning about the special effects. But my youngest was getting weary. You have to pace yourselves.
The details are amazing. Did you know Olivander's Wand shop had all individually labeled wand boxes? That wasn't generated by a computer.
Platform 9 3/4
We climbed aboard one of the REAL Hogwart's Express trains. On it we saw the sweets trolley and the last outfits worn in the movie. Don't miss your chance to push your trolley through the wall!
We were amazed by the architectural details involved in the making of Hogwarts. One huge room is devoted to the scale model (1;24). The model was used for the sweeping flying scenes and battle scenes. Each stone is individually crafted. The studio tour includes details on the drafting, models and constructions details. As the girls and I walked through through the room, we talked about making dreams into reality. I think this room more than any other one brought the hard work to light for us.
There are two dining options--one at the end of the tour and then one on the back lot. The food line was reasonable. And you can bring in outside food. We got salads, sandwiches and of course...butter beer, I'm told this is one of the few place on earth you can get "real" butter beer. It's like gingerale with whipped cream on top. Yum!
New This Year
This year marks the 15th anniversary of the first Harry Potter Movie. To honor this, we got to see some new things like the sorting hat and 4 Privet Drive.
Don't forget to leave time and money for the gift shop. My girls picked out quills, postcards and a pygmy puff. I got some postcards. I challenge you to NOT buy something.
I took many more pictures, this is just the highlight reel. I could have spend two more hours there. For die-hard fans this is a can't miss. And if you're a newbie, I think you'll fall into the spell of Harry Potter.
Are you ready to dive into the world of Harry Potter? Let me know if you've been or plan to go.
This is not a sponsored post.