It’s been 20 years since one of the most immersive worlds was introduced to us and as a die-hard Harry Potter fan, it was time to go on a Harry Potter adventure! I have always wanted to visit every Harry Potter-related location and what better way to start than to visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter in London?
“I solemnly swear that I am up to no good”
Make sure that you book your tickets in advance, as early as possible. Tickets get snapped up very quickly during peak season, especially when they have special events like Hogwarts In The Snow. I cried when I tried to get tickets two months before my trip to London because all the dates and time slots were fully booked until the end of December. It was only after a few weeks of stalking the website everyday that I found an available slot that was in line with my time in London. I thank my lucky stars every day for that.
There are a couple of ways to get there, like driving or taking a bus. I took the train from Euston Station in London to Watford Junction, and from there I took the shuttle bus. The signs make it easy to locate the shuttle bus just outside the train station, you can’t miss it. Be sure to bring £2.50 in cash to purchase the ticket. The bus attendant might ask you for your confirmation before letting you on the bus, so just mark the email for easy access on your phone or print it out like I did. Remember to keep your return ticket (£2.50) for the shuttle bus or you will have to fork out another £2.00 for a single ticket. Try to arrive 30 minutes before your time slot because the lines can be pretty crazy.
Don’t worry if you get there too early. You can head over to the studio cafe or the Starbucks inside for some coffee or even visit the Studio Shop. Be careful not to spend all your money there because you will also encounter The Forbidden Forest Shop and The Railway Shop during the tour. You will still end up at the Studio Shop at the end. It is a self-guided tour so take your time to take in everything at your own pace.
If you want to save your money for merchandise and souvenirs, I recommend packing yourself a lunch and some snacks. You’re not really allowed to eat inside but once you reach the Backlot Cafe, you can get some Butterbeer to go with your food.
If you are like me and you want to get the full experience, you can also get the Digital Guide. It’s a handheld audio-visual guide that gives you more details of a particular set, exclusive behind-the-scenes footage and cast and crew interviews. You will see numbers on some of the signs and that’s when you will need to key in the number on the audio guide.
All you need to remember to bring are your tickets or email booking confirmation, a fully charged camera and of course, your wand!
The Magic Begins
Once you are past the queue and ushered into a room, you will watch a short video to get your heart pumping. You will then be led to a screening room to watch a short film where some of the main casts will give you a bit of an introduction to the tour. And this is where you might get a heart attack from too much excitement because when that video ends, the screen will lift up and right there, are the doors to the great hall. (*Squeals like a crazy fan girl and faints*)
In the great hall, you will see the props and costumes used in the movies. The decor can differ depending on whether you are visiting during a normal day or seasonal periods like The Dark Arts during October for Halloween and Hogwarts In The Snow, hence the Christmas trees and the Yule Ball decor in the front.
Try to hang back while the crowd moves on so you can capture photos without people in them.
Costumes, Props and Iconic Sets
Here you will see the costumes for your favourite characters, and iconics sets you will remember from the movies. You will also get to see the props used close up.
Did you know that more than 3,000 wands were made for the films? J.K.Rowling suggested to the prop department that the wands should be made of wood construction, and designed to a specific length and shape that would complement the wizard who owned it. As Ollivander the wandmaker said, ‘it’s really the wand that chooses the wizard…’
“There will be no foolish wand-waving or silly incantations in this class. “
Step Into The Forbidden Forest
The Forbidden Forest is a new expansion that officially opened in March 2017. You will come face to face with Aragog and his spiderlings and a close up look at Buckbeak.
Platform 9 3/4
If you haven’t gotten your Hogwarts Express train ticket yet, because in reality we are all muggles (perish the thought), you can get one at The Railway Shop. The Hogwarts Express souvenir ticket is embellished with gold foil and is based on the original artwork from the Harry Potter film series.
Finally Tasting Butterbeer!
Half way through, you’ll end up at The Backlot Cafe where you can finally enjoy a frothy Butterbeer. It’s a non-alcoholic beverage that’s reminiscent of shortbread and butterscotch so it’s obviously safe for children. You can get it in a regular cup for £3.95 or in a souvenir tankard or stein for £6.95. I’m not sure why I got the souvenier stein. It was in the spur of the moment, and I’m definitely trying to get my money’s worth by using it every day now. There is also the Butterbeer Ice cream for £4.95 which was vanilla with a hint of butterscotch. They are probably not worth the price but trying it once just for the experience doesn’t hurt. Admit it, you know you’re going to try it even if I told you it didn’t taste good. Which, personally, I thought tasted a little diluted and sweet. But that’s just my opinion.
One of my favourite parts of the tour would definitely have to be Diagon Alley.
“Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home”
At the end of the tour, you will see the jewel in the crown of the Art Department, an intricately detailed model of Hogwarts castle. It’s a 1:24 scale model that was filmed and enhanced with digital effects to create more realistic views of the magical school.
I honestly had a wonderful time and probably spent a good 6 hours in there. It was absolutely amazing and I also recommend visiting the Platform 9 3/4 store at King Cross where I finally got my Hogwarts acceptance letter! Do drop by Mina Lima too to continue your Harry Potter adventure.