Updated: January 2019
To say that I am a fan of Harry Potter is an understatement. It was a great experience to go to Universal for the first time 3 years ago. They have the most amazing Harry Potter world there. That only fueled the fire and desire to visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour. While on a short visit to London, England we decided to take a trip to Watford. To see for ourselves the magic of Harry Potter studio London and explore the delights of the Harry Potter studios shop.
This is one of the greatest things to do in London. It’s not just us Brits flock to and see the magic. But people and fans from all over the world travel to experience the true magic of Harry Potter Studio London.
- Travelling To The Harry Potter Studios
- The Making Of Harry Potter London Tickets
- Harry Potter Studios Exhibitions
- Food At The Harry Potter Studios, London
- Outdoor Section
- Harry Potter Studios Shop
Travelling To The Harry Potter Studios
We decided to take the train from Euston in the centre of London to Watford Junction. Be careful which train you catch as the trains run every 10 – 15 minutes, however, the journey times can vary dramatically depending on the calling points. As you can see below, the shortest is 15 minutes but the longest is 47 minutes.
If like us, you’re travelling from the North of England into London to visit the making of Harry Potter at the Warner Bros Studio Tour London then you’ll be pleased to know that Kings Cross Station is just a 10-minute walk from Euston Station. This was the most direct / quickest way of us getting from Leeds to Watford via train.
Euston Station is one of the most heavily populated stations within London and has multiple food outlets. Just in case you miss breakfast, as we did…
Once you arrive at Watford Station you’ll be able to catch a shuttle bus service which will take you directly to the studio for £2.50 return per adult. The queue for the buses can be quite long so be prepared to wait. Though the buses are frequent running times of every 15 – 20 minutes.
There is parking available on sight for free and is close to the studio. There is also disabled spaces available too. The Harry Potter Studios staff ask you to have your booking confirmation and ready to hand. If you are travelling as a group, each vehicle will require a book confirmation.
The Making Of Harry Potter London Tickets
Harry Potter Studio London tickets are to be booked in advance online. When booking you’ll be requested to choose a dedicated time slot. The tour is approximately 3 hours – You may think it long but you will need it, trust me.
Once you arrive at the Harry Potter Studios at you can go to either the ticket desk to collect your tickets. Or self-serve machines available with staff to help. This is very simple and straightforward. Once you have your tickets, join the queue to go through security.
When your time slot is up you walk over to get your ticket is scanned and you wait until you get to start the tour. You can feel the excitement in the air, looking around you can see everything from Harry’s first bedroom under the stairs to quotes and photos on the wall, even all the eager fans dressed up wands at the ready.
For me, I am not a great fan of queues but who is really? At this point, after waiting for the bus and to get through security we both really just wanted to get in and I was ready to experience the magic of Harry Potter Studios.
Harry Potter Studios Exhibitions
Once through the doors, you are welcomed to 8 screens, 4 of each side of the wall displaying the movie posters all in different languages. After watching a short video the 3 doors opened to a cinema room, once seated you sit and watch another clip. I was thankful for the sit down for 5 minutes before the screen lifted to reveal the large double doors. Safe to say me and Cora were both pretty amazed and were definitely impressed with the setup so far.
The Great Hall
Once the doors open you are led of course into the Great Hall, this scene was made to last including real stone floor as it was to endure many scenes and wear and tear. It was quite breathtaking to see how accurate the scene was to the films. It had everything from the costumes up on the stage to the display and lay on the table for meal times.
What impressed us the most was the way they had presented the costumes, including wigs and stance. Not just on a mannequin with a dress on it but you really got the feel of the character which really made it all the more exciting. I loved seeing the detail of the costumes in person and in the places the actors all stood within the films, it was truly magical.
The long tables were pushed to either side of the room and behind them were displays of some of the Gryffindor costumes and on the opposite side the Slytherin costumes. The hall was full of detail in the wall gargoyles each being different from the last and the large fireplaces.
Special Effects, Props and Costumes
The Great Hall led onto another large room, this was full of everything you know and loved in the films and much more intricate details you may have missed. Every detail was important to the films and you can see the work that went into the props, costumes, set and more.
Slowly there were large TV screens with short clips playing of the directors, producers and writers that worked on the films, each director having something different to talk about and why they loved the books and films.
The exhibition led on to show the many different ways in which the special effects department created the floating candle ceiling, it wasn’t always done by computer, they originally used props but they had too many incidents and eventually made it computerised.
There is a section made up for the make up department, showing how many times Harry’s scar was done throughout the course of the 8 films. The mirror had many different pieces of paper, notes and pictures pinned around the edge. This was fascinating to me as a small makeup team would work on all the characters as well as extras within the films.
Sets, Forbidden Forest And Animal Cast
The sets on show ranged from Gryffindor common room, the boy’s dorm room to Hagrid’s hut. The scenes are spaced out around the room with so many more exciting things to look at while the queues calm down. No detail was spared when setting up the rooms and so you could spend all day looking at all the intricate details but don’t because it is really annoying for everyone else.
It also hosted a section to have your photo taken as a bad wizard and the chance to ride a broom through the streets of London. The Harry Potter Studios have created 8-9 cubicles set up so everyone can ride a broom and keep the wait time down. From photos starting at £14, it was a treasure worth taking home to remember forever. Like you could forget though right?
Our favourite part was seeing the board that was for the animal cast, seeing that most of the dogs who played Fang were rescued was great to see such care and dedication to the animals and the scene. We loved that they included a picture and what each animal’s personality was like and who was on screen the most.
Walking through you were standing in front of a large gate leading you into the forbidden forest, the scene becomes gloomy, misty and frightening. There was a large display of Hagrid’s costume set on one side as you enter, carry on round and you are greeted by a smoky path and Buckbeak, you can take it in turns to bow to Buckbeak. Carry on round and you can control the weather, daylight and meet some 8 legged friends.
I will note that there is a cut through if you don’t want to enter the forbidden forest for health issues or for anyone who doesn’t like spiders.
Once lunch is over you start the tour again you are in a large room with the Hogwarts Express. There is a section of the train you can climb aboard and check out the carriage. The place in which Harry, Ron and Hermione sat. There are also small English newsagents for you to buy special merchandise with the train on.
You then move through to special effects, props and set design. There are a number of short clips to watch. It is a great way to look into how much it took to get such things as books to move. There is everything in there from the dragon, dobby models and the magical creatures book.
Near the end of the tour, you will walk through Diagon Alley. While it isn’t anything compared to Universal Orlando it is amazing to see. The set looks so real and you can look at the buildings and window displays closely.
Once through you will walk into a large room with a large scale model of Hogwarts. It was breathtaking and amazing to see. There is interactive screens showing you different parts of the film were filmed there and how.
Food At The Harry Potter Studios, London
There are 2 main places to eat at the Harry Potter Studio London. One large canteen at the entrance before starting the tour and another smaller canteen halfway around the tour. I don’t believe you can come to the entrance canteen once you have started the tour.
Walking into the canteen area that had an array of sandwiches, hot meals, drinks available as well as Butter Beer. The canteen area is plain and normal canteen style compared to the rest of the Harry Potter Studio London. The food looked good and we both got a pre-packed sandwich. However, there wasn’t much choice as I think we hit peak time.
We sat outside in the courtyard area where there were more sets to explore. We also bought a small butterbeer, you collected this at another counter. They also have souvenir mugs and steins to take home. Many families had brought picnics which is allowed and there is plenty of seating areas and bins for rubbish.
While in the courtyard area before heading back on the tour there is more than enough to explore. First Privet Drive street sign and the house, you can walk through to see the living room set up. A great detail to see is the way they painted the house to look like real brick.
Next, you see in the centre of the courtyard is the large wooden bridge where many scenes were shot. It is unreal to see it stood in such an ordinary place but magical all the same. The courtyard is also home to the large wizard chess pieces from the first film. The famous flying car from Chamber of Secrets and the night bus from Prisoner of Azkaban.
Harry Potter Studios Shop
The Harry Potter Studio Shop is located at the end of the tour as that is the exit. The shop is also accessible before the tour. I advise walking around the shop before going on the tour. This really gives you the perfect chance to eye up what you will buy.
I loved walking around the Harry Potter studios shop as it was decorated to match the theme of the tour. The shop is very big and so it should be with everything they have on offer. I would easily spend a day in there trying everything on and becoming a true wizard/witch.
The shop had a great variety of clothing options from t-shirts, jumpers, knitted jumpers, hats, scarves for each house. There is no shame in which house you love, there are equal amounts of merchandise for each Hogwarts House. Inside the Harry Potter Studios shop, you can buy ornaments of the mythical creatures. Jewellery of the time turner and stationary including wax stamp sets for sending your own Hogwarts letters.
You will see the whole back wall of the Harry Potter studios shop is dedicated to wands. There you can test out your wand with assistance from one of the shop assistants. You can get the full kit and be ready to hop on to the Hogwarts Express. As the Harry Potter studios shop has everything you would need to become the next best wizard or witch.
Finally, there is a section to satisfy any sweet tooth, even if it is a sour tooth. The shop stores all ranges of magical and disgusting wizarding world sweets you could think of.
Though I thought there was a slow start to the tour due to waiting and queuing I really enjoyed it. I was impressed with how many staff they had available at the tills. Broom flying stations are fully staffed keeping the wait time down. I would have liked to see more imagination within the cafe area as it would be in keeping with the tour.
Overall though I loved it and would live there if I could. I adore the magic of Harry Potter Studio London and would recommend it to anyone no matter how far on the fan scale you are.