We had been in London for 48 hours and hadn’t been to the famous Harry Potter WB Studio Tour yet. I know, I was pretty shocked too. Alas, after two fun filled days spent with Anthony’s parents and their friends, we were finally on our way to the legit happiest place on earth (sorry Disney World).
The first thing I will say is to plan on spending at least half a day here. But really, it would be a whole day journey. It takes about an hour each way regardless of your transportation method. If you book through the direct website, I would schedule it for the earliest time available. The studio opens at 9:30 on weekdays and 8:30 on Saturday and Sunday, with the first tours available 30 minutes later.
It is 41 pounds for an adult ticket into the studio when booking directly through their site. This doesn’t include any type of transportation. Since we weren’t familiar with the underground or anything, I ended up finding a booking through Golden Tours that included entrance into the studio and transportation there and back (in a double decker bus that was wrapped with Harry Potter advertisements). Golden Tours does handle their bookings in blocks of four hours. But I’m sure if you weren’t ready to leave yet, you could have hopped on one of their later buses. Check with them first if you decide to book, but they had buses departing every hour.
We ended up going with this tour even though it was probably a little more expensive than finding our own transportation. Their pick up and drop off area was right by our hotel so, essentially, we paid for comfort and convenience. At 69 pounds a person, I think it was worth it. Not to mention it was a great experience. As soon as we got on the bus (at an early 7:15 am), they started playing Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. Pretty sure I was crying on the ride there, watching the movie and knowing we would be seeing the beloved sets and props.
WB Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter
For those who don’t know, the WB (Warner Bros.) Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter is a behind the scenes, immersive experience where fans can see all that went into bringing the most incredible series in the world (prove me wrong, I dare you) to the big screen. From the mock ups of each location, to actual sets they filmed on. From props to costumes, it is easy to feel like you have apparated right into the wizarding world itself. I was just waiting for Harry himself to come around the corner and dramatically scream, “he was their friend!”
If you are reading this and planning your trip to the studio for the first time, my one piece of advise (well if you are a sap like me) is to prepare yourself. You will cry. I’m tearing up just remembering the moment they open the castle doors and say “Welcome to Hogwarts” and you are staring at the Great Hall. Not a watered down version of it, but the Great Hall. It was incredible. As a total Potterhead, I don’t think I will ever forget that. If you can, push your way to the front so you are one of the first in after the guide. That view is all yours, no tourists blocking the most perfect view.
From that point the guide starts the tour, however, you can go ahead and wander through on your own. Which is what Anthony and I did. I think I would like to do it again with the guide to hear all of the stories I’m sure she has. But we were too excited to see everything. Around every corner there was something new, yet completely recognizable.
We went right after the Forbidden Forest opened, and that is a cool experience. They do not open that part of the tour until 11:00. But don’t worry if you’re early, there are so many things to occupy your time.
The Hogwarts Express was also a really impressive exhibit. You can walk through it and see each compartment. One for each of the movies. At the end of the train there is the compartment from the first movie and a mock up of the costumes the baby Rupert and Dan wore in those scenes. And right behind them were the costumes of when they were all older at the very end of the movie waving their kids off on the Hogwarts Express. The placement was great, from the beginning until the very end (*bursts into tears*).
About halfway through there is a cafe where you can get some food and, of course, Butterbeer. I wish they sold that shit by the gallons, I’d gladly go into a diabetic coma for it. We rested for a bit with a cup of the good stuff before continuing on our journey.
Outside of the cafe you will find the Knight Bus, Number 4 Privet Drive, Harry’s home in Godric’s Hollow, and you can walk down the Castle Bridge.
From there you continue on to see fantastic characters before going into a section that shows you the process the developers go through to bring their sketches to life, with a grand surprise at the end as Emma Watson tells you. I found that section very interesting. All of the intricasies they have to think of, just on paper alone is incredible. And then to see the final product the full scale model of Hogwarts, will completely blow your mind (or in my case, make me break out in the water works again). Yes, the ones they used to film the exterior shots of the beloved castle. I hate giving away surprises, but even with me telling you (or showing you a photo), there really is nothing like the moment that you walk into the intimately lit room and experience it for yourself.
So have you been? If so, what was your favorite part? If you are planning to go, what are you most excited to see? Let me know in the comments!
Of course, you have to also see some of the London sights that inspired JK Rowling. You can read more about that below in my 48 hours in London post.
Want to plan your own Harry Potter adventure? Click here to schedule your complimentary vacation planning call with me, Emily, of Belest Travel Co.
And feel free to follow my adventures on instagram.