“Dear Mr Potter, We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry”. Who else dreamed of getting a letter like this with your name on it, or still does even in your late 20’s? Well what if I told you that even without the letter you would be able to live out your muggle day dreams by visiting the magical Wizarding world of Harry Potter? No flying car broomstick or hippogriff necessary. So pack your trunk, crab your cloak and wave goodbye to mum & dad as I give you the low down on a day trip to WarnerBros Studios London for The Making of Harry Potter Tour.
Where to stay
If like myself you’re coming into London before heading out on your magical adventure then you might be in need of accommodation. Making sure I was close to the underground/train to get out to WB Studios I booked in at YHA St-Pancras for one night and was stones through from the train & underground stations making it quick and easy to get myself off and out the following morning. Click here to find out more - YHA St-Pancras . I stayed in 6 bed dorm paying £21.00/night.
There are a few ways for you to get out to the Studios, if you are driving click here for those directions. There are options for all inclusive tours including transport, but I opted for the train & shuttle bus option.
From central London you will need to get yourself to London Euston Station taking a train from there to Watford Junction (about 20 minutes) and from there make your way through the station which is well sign posted to find the WB Studio Tour shuttle bus which leaves every 20 minutes from 9:20am onwards and will take you around 15 minutes to arrive at the studio. The train ticket price will vary depending on how far in advance you book, and I myself paid £11.90 for an off peak return ticket. And the cost of the shuttle is £2.50 (cash & exact change only) return per person, make sure you keep hold of your ticket so you can get back at the end of the day.
At WB Studios London
Tickets for the tours need to be booked in advance so make sure you do this first. And a word to the wise that during the summer months, school holidays and particularly touristy times of the year the tickets book out quickly, so to avoid disappointment if you are hoping to visit then as soon as you book your flights to London book your tour tickets next. Listed below are the costs of tickets depending on who is visiting on the day, to find out more on booking click here . When you book you’ll be able to see a listing of the time slots available and would recommend being there on the first entry (9am currently) to avoid the worst of the crowds.
You can collect your tickets from the automated kiosks at the Studio, print them out online, have them delivered to your home or collect them at the desks by the entrance. All tickets are a timed entry but with no limit on how long you can spend inside. The ticket I purchased was for the 10:30am slot and I booked it purposely as to avoid the worst of the crowds and would highly recommend doing the same. I spent most of the day there (leaving just before 4pm) and the line ups and chaos I witnessed upon leaving had my crowd fuelled anxiety in full force.
The studio offers a free cloak room which is great if you’re just there on a day trip and don’t want to cart around all your stuff. Coats, bags and even luggage can be left at the same spot you can collect your radio guide at and then you’ll follow the signs to the waiting area where your ticket will be checked to see what time you booked for. There is a cafe in this waiting area, and dotted around the grounds as well so you won’t go hungry but you might go broke! To cut costs I opted to bring my own food with me, stopping at sections of the tour where there were benches, and again at one of the cafes near the outdoor portion of the studios where there are tables. If you budget allows I would totally suggest indulging in a Butterbeer while at this stage of the tour. The creamy sweet drink created for the film is totally magical and tips the experience over the edge, foamy moustache and all as you look out over Number 4 Privet Drive and the Knight Bus!
My favourite Moments
Now I don’t want to give away the whole tour because well I don’t want to ruin it and the surprise of what you’ll find is almost the best part but I wanted to share some of my favourite moments of the tour with you. But if you want to keep it mostly a surprise then don’t read any further!
The Great Hall - This was the first moment were I really felt the magic. You’re ushered into the Great Hall by a staff member after watching a re-cap of all 8 films in less than 10 minutes to get you in the mood and then it’s off into one of the sets that you see the most throughout all the films and are greeted by stand ins for some of the main characters.
Dumbledores Office- This is somewhere we see a lot of in the films and while it truly is magical on screen, there was just something about being able to see it all just inches from your own eyes. The details, from the pensive to the potions, the sorting hat and so many other incredible things to be spotted to make you feel as if you were standing in front of the greatest Headmaster Hogwarts has ever seen.
Ministry of Magic - This isn’t a huge portion of the studio tour but I’ve always loved the scene in The Order of The Phoenix where Dumbledore and Voldemort face off. Something about the sparks flying and the green marble were incredibly mesmerizing to me, so to see those same walls in real life was pretty cool. (And yes I am aware of how nerdy that sounds).
Platform 9 3/4 - Obviously! While this isn’t actually located in a train station studio it isn’t far from London Euston if you want to make a pit stop before/after visiting the Studio lot (at Kings Cross Station), but this is still as magical. You round the corner from another set and you can hear the train and see the steam rolling across the ground just before you lay eyes on the train that would bring Harry, Ron & Hermione to their home away from home. If you have the budget/want the souvenir you can sit in a green screen and get a photo that will show all your friends & family that you were on the train, but if not you can wander around the set and even walk through the train which has carriages set up like in the film.
Hogwarts Castle - Saving the best for last (in my opinion) and likely positioned as the last set of the tour as a Grand Final sort of thing. I won’t tell you much more other than spend as much time here as possible because it is the last set on the lot and probably the most magical.
With a bit go a high price point for this one day adventure, I would 100% recommend it if you are even a little bit of a fan of Harry Potter (books and/or movies). The cost of the ticket + accommodation + transit wasn’t usually what I would spend for a day out but it was high on my UK Bucket list and although I wanted to do it for my birthday in May, the availability was pretty much non existent so I celebrated a little early, and experienced the magic of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft & Wizardry which was totally worth it!