Our Magical Day at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
It wasn’t until a couple years ago that Matt finally convinced me to give Harry Potter a chance. We watched all 8 films over the course of a few days during the Christmas break and…I didn’t hate it, like I was expecting to. But I didn’t completely fall in love with the series either.
Fast forward to May of this year, I knew I would have some time to read during our Iceland and Maldives trips and so I decided to give the Harry Potter books a go. I have this thing where I promptly forget a movie as soon as it’s over so I didn’t remember most of the plot twists and turns plus books are always so different from the films.
I was hooked.
I read all 7 books and re-watched all 8 films over 5 weeks.
Matt wasn’t used to me reading so much and actually complained that I wasn’t giving him enough attention! But I couldn’t help it, I had fallen completely in love with Harry Potter (umm, but not in a weird way).
Matt on the other hand has read every book over ten times and has loved the series since he was a kid. We only just realised that the first book (which start with Harry’s 11th birthday) came out 9 days after Matt turned 11 – no wonder he was a fan from the beginning!
And so, we booked in a visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour here in London.
The Harry Potter Studio Tour
We arrived off the £2 return shuttle bus from Watford Junction and were immediately greeted by the sound of the Harry Potter theme song and giant posters of scenes from the movie. We collected our pre-purchased tickets quickly and excitedly made our way into the building to start our tour.
There were hundreds of people in the queue and you could just feel the excitement from the crowd. Even though it was pretty clear you could only join the queue 10 minutes before your allotted ticket time, we had to jump in front of people who had queued too early so we didn’t miss our slot.
It was probably one of the worst queues I’ve seen in Britain which is saying something because they love a good queuing system here!
Before long, we were introduced to the one way tour (no backtracking if you missed something!), personally welcomed by Harry, Hermione, and Ron (by pre-recorded video, of course), then found ourselves standing in front of the doors to the Great Hall of Hogwarts Castle.
To get a really good sense of what the tour was like, making sure to watch our video at the end of this post or by clicking here (link opens in a new window).
The Great Hall set has been left exactly as it was used for the films. The only exception is the enchanted ceiling which was added with visual effects.
After the Great Hall, we were left to do the rest of the Harry Potter Studio Tour at our own pace. It took us a couple hours which is nothing compared to the longest visit which was around 13 hours!
It’s worth noting that this tour isn’t an amusement park but more of a giant museum of all the props, costumes, sets, and special effects that were actually used in the films.
One of the highlights of the tour was the full scale Diagon Alley complete with all the shop fronts – it really felt like you had just passed through the Leaky Cauldron and were in the world of Harry Potter.
The final room of the Harry Potter Studio Tour housed the large scale Hogwarts Castle model which was used for the aerial shots in the film. As you walked around the corner, the lighting darkened, the music changed and I was absolutely blown away by the sight of it.
I’m not going to lie, it was a bit emotional.
We also sampled some of the Harry Potter delicacies like Butterbeer and Every Flavour Beans but we’ll save that post and video for next week. Believe me, you’re going to want to watch that!
Overall, the tour was incredibly well done and it was amazing to see the passion and hard work that went into making the Harry Potter series come to life on screen.
If you’re a fan of the books & films and you find yourself in London, make sure you check it out.
Watch our video of the Harry Potter Studio Tour
More Information on the Harry Potter Studio Tour
You have to pre-book (there is no option to purchase at the door) and pre-book early if you have a specific date and time that you want to go. We only had a few weekends free to go and I’m glad I booked when I did otherwise we’d be waiting a while. I ended up booking tickets in a months time as it was slim pickings for weekend dates up to 4 weeks in advance.
You also have to bring your confirmation with you and you book for a specific time so you can’t be late.
There are lots of different options from individual tickets, to family and group packages. We paid £33 each which covered just the tour/entrance but you can add on Digital Guides, Souvenir Guidebooks and Butterbeer in advance for extra charges.
How long is the tour?
They say to allow 3 hours to do the tour and this is roughly how long it took us. We’re notorious for blitzing self-led tours and museums so if you’re a bit slower or a huge fan of Harry Potter you might want to allow more time! Also, even though you are given a set time to start the tour, doesn’t mean you are limited to the amount of time you can stay there. You can stay right up until closing if you like!
How to get there
First of all, I’m shocked that no one has created a ‘Hogwarts Express’ line that goes from Kings Cross station straight to the studios. I’m sure someone has thought of it and knowing what London is like with trains, it probably isn’t possible. We caught a train from Euston to Watford Junction which took about 20 mins. Outside Watford Junction, you can catch a shuttle bus to the WB Studios for £2 return and it goes every 20 mins or so. Trust me, you can’t miss it!
When to Go
Anytime! The majority of the tour is inside so even if it’s raining or snowing you won’t miss out.