For all you Harry Potter fans, there is SO. MUCH. to see and do in London. Just walking the streets of central London will make you feel as though you’re in a Harry Potter film. I’ve loved Harry Potter (the books, the movies, my hero J.K. Rowling) because I grew up with the stories. I was in third grade when I read the first book with my dad.
And when I came to London in spring 2016 to study abroad, I wanted to experience all Harry-Potter-related things the city had to offer. There are Harry Potter walking tours, Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross, The Elephant House cafe in Edinburgh where J.K. Rowling started it all (by scribbling her notes on napkins). Today, there’s the House of Mina Lima featuring the graphic design work of the Harry Potter films, and the Cursed Child on the West End.
But one of my favorite experiences was the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. I went with my study abroad program. And this past weekend, I had the opportunity to visit again because I accompanied a group of students. In this post, I’ll share all you need to know about the studio tour, including cost / how to get there / what to expect / etc.
WHAT IS THE WARNER BROS. STUDIO TOUR?
All 8 Harry Potter movies were filmed at the Warner Bros. studio in Leavesden over the course of 10 years. So, yes, this is where Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson grew up, working/living/studying while filming the Harry Potter movies.
And it’s unique because the production crew decided to save many of the costumes, props, and sets – just in case they’d need them for later films (as not all the books were published yet!). You can read more about it here on the website.
Now, the studio is open to the public, so everyone can experience the behind-the-scenes magic (pun intended) that created the movies we know and love.
It’s just really cool to see all the original costumes and props, and to learn how certain scenes / special effects were filmed.
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour really showcases the incredible care of the filmmakers in making these movies. I was blown away by the intricate details in every costume, prop, and set. The producers and designers were dedicated to bringing Harry Potter’s story alive.
Here’s what you can expect: When you walk in, there’s a brief introduction / speech by a staff member, followed by a short film in a theater. The film gives you some context and background, narrated by our favorite actors (Harry / Ron / Hermione!). And then you’ll begin the self-guided tour by entering through the beloved doors of Hogwarts’ Great Hall, which has been carefully preserved.
Highlights include the Great Hall, the Gryffindor dormitory and common room, the Weasley Burrow, the Ministry of Magic, the Hogwarts Express, Diagon Alley, the Knight Bus, the Dursley’s home on Privet Drive, etc. You’ll see Hermione’s Yule Ball dress, Quidditch broomsticks, the marble staircase, the portrait of the Fat Lady, the Mirror of Erised, the hallway of the Leaky Cauldron (spoiler alert: it’s an optical illusion!), the Goblet of Fire, and so much more.
You’re encouraged to take photos throughout the tour of anything/everything you see. But there are also designated photo opportunities, like flying on a broomstick (there’s an actual green-screen!), sitting in a Hogwarts Express carriage, and Platform 9 3/4.
There are two cafes – one at the entrance and one mid-tour. The Backlot Cafe (mid-tour) sells butterbeer and butterbeer ice-cream. I’m not a huge fan of butterbeer, having tried the cream-soda-like beverage in Orlando, but I LOVED the butterbeer ice-cream. It’s like caramel and butterscotch, and it’s thick and creamy. So, so worth it. There are also multiple gift shops which sell loads of Harry Potter merchandise.
PLAN YOUR TRIP TO WARNER BROS. STUDIOS
A standard adult (16 yrs +) ticket is 41 pounds, which is roughly $58. Check the calendar for “saver” tickets, which are a few pounds cheaper (39 pounds). Be sure to factor in the cost of getting to the studios, either by train or by bus (or both!).
We took a 20-min direct train from Euston Station to Watford Junction (7 pound train ticket), where we boarded a shuttle bus (return ticket 2.50 pounds – cash only) to take us to the studios. Total = about 10 pounds
You could also travel directly to the studios from Central London by bus, and Warner Bros. Studios recommends partner Golden Tours. Purchase a package online which includes both the cost of the bus and your Harry Potter ticket. The price for this package is 77 pounds. Buses leave from major stations including Kings Cross, Victoria, Birmingham Coach Station, and Birmingham New Street.
The tour takes upwards of 3 hours, but the time truly flies. There’s just so much to see, and everyone will take it at their own pace.