At less than an hour from London, Warner Bros. Studio Tours London – the Making of Harry Potter is the destination of choice for wannabe witches and wizards. But, for all the Muggles out there, don’t worry, you’re also welcome.
Harry Potter fans will be in their element amongst the props, models, costumes and sets from the films, but even those not so familiar with the franchise should enjoy this behind-the-scenes access to the magical world of cinema.
Entire sets have been recreated to show how the special effects and animatronics in the films were done. You’ll also see props like magical potions, Hagrid’s motorbike, Arthur Weasley’s Ford Anglia and the Golden Snitch.
Whether you’re a die-hard Potter fan or just looking for a fun break for all the family, the Harry Potter Studio tour is a great way to spend a day in London, whatever the weather.
Wrapped in our invisibility cloak and armed with our magic wand we headed to Leavesden to find out more about the magical world of Harry Potter and uncover the secrets of Hogwarts. Read on to see what we discovered.
Book your Warner Bros. Studio Tours London – the Making of Harry Potter tickets and step into the magic world of Hogwarts
The tour starts with a short film introducing the films. The screen then disappears to dramatically reveal the monumental doors that open into the Great Hall. This is where the magic begins, so try and get a seat in the front row so you’re first into the hall.
There are details from the films hidden throughout the sets so keep your eyes peeled and see how many you can spot. We loved the animated objects from the Weasley family kitchen, also keep an eye out for the Golden Snitches (the winning ball from Quiddich matches) that pop up throughout the tour, and see how many you can find. You can’t miss the Hogwarts portraits as there are nearly 350 of them, painted specifically for the films using the cast and crew as models. Potter experts may even recognise David Heyman, the films’ producer, amongst the many faces on the walls.
While you’re at the Studios ask for a free activity passport. This little book includes a Golden Snitch hunt, puzzles and quizzes for fans as well as behind-the-scenes stories from the film sets. Make sure to get your passport stamped with the Hogwarts crest or the Platform 9¾ one during the tour.
Opinions are divided on the favourite drink of wizards and witches. If you have a sweet tooth you’ll probably enjoy butterbeer, which tastes a bit like a cream soda. Children will love it and, don’t worry, despite its name it’s alcohol free so suitable for under 18s. To sample a tankard or two, head to the Backlot Café just before the external sets, you can even keep your tankard as a souvenir if you like. If butterbeer is a bit too sweet for your tastes, other drinks are also available at the café, including real beer, cider and wine.
The Ministry of Magic is one of the larger sets created for the films, used for scenes involving hundreds of cast members and extras. Many of these were actually crew members dressed up in cloaks, beards and hats.
Test your piloting skills on a flying broomstick with a bit of help from green screen technology. You can take to the skies over London on a Nimbus 2000 or a Firebolt or join Harry and the Gryffindor team for a game of Quidditch.
You’re being filmed so you’ll be able to watch yourself in action later and buy the video to impress your friends at home.
The official bus leaves from either King’s Cross or Victoria stations in London and takes you directly to the studios. Make sure you have a bus + Warner Bros Studio Tour ticket or you won’t be able to get onboard.
Trains leave from Euston station, just a 10-minute-walk from King’s Cross St Pancras. Take the train direct to Watford Junction (about a 20-minute trip and you can use your Oyster card). At Watford Junction, take the shuttle bus for the 10-minute drive to the Studios (£2.50 for a round trip). You’ll need to have cash to pay as cards aren’t accepted on the bus. Shuttles run every 20 minutes between 8:15 in the morning and 10 in the evening.
Buy your tickets online before you go as you can’t buy them at the Studios. You can choose the date and the time slot of your visit, but book well in advance if you’re planning on visiting during school holidays or other peak periods, as tickets sell out fast. We’d advise you book at least three months in advance to be sure of getting the dates and times you want. Print out your confirmation email and bring it with you to collect your tickets at the Studio.
The Studios open at 8:30, with the first tour starting at 9am. The last tour of the day starts at 6:45pm and ends at 10pm. We ‘d advise you get to the studios a good half an hour before your tour starts to give yourself plenty of time to pick up your tickets and go through security bag checks.
Adult ticket: £41
Child ticket: £33 (free for under 4s)
Family ticket (2 adults and 2 children or 1 adult and 3 children): £132
Give yourself around 4 hours for the Studio tour as there is so much to see and so many details you don’t want to miss. Ideally, take a morning or afternoon so you don’t have to rush
Audio guides are available in multiple languages should you need them. There are also expert guides on hand throughout the tour to answer your questions. It’s worth engaging with the guides as their passion and enthusiasm for the magical world created by J.K Rowling will add to your experience. Some of them were even extras in the films and have personal stories and insider information to share.
There is a free cloakroom on arrival at the Studio where you can leave coats, bags and even suitcases (if you’re on a flying visit).
You can take prams and pushchairs on the tour (double pushchairs aren’t allowed) however, due to space restrictions, there is a limit per time slot. So, where possible, leave them in the cloakroom.
The Studio shuttle bus is completely wheelchair accessible along with most of the tour itself, though there are some areas where it may be a little difficult, such as the cobblestones of Diagon Alley. Original sets like the Knight bus and Hogwarts bridge are not step free so are not suitable for wheelchairs.
You won’t go hungry at the studios with plenty of food options.
The Studio Café at the entrance serves food and drink all day, with breakfast, including a ‘full English’ available until 11:30. You can also have afternoon tea with cakes and scones, served with jam and clotted cream.
If you start feeling peckish mid-tour, you can pop into the Backlot Café for hot or cold meals. If the weather is good there are tables outside with views of external sets including the Dursley house, the Knight bus and Hogwarts bridge. You can also try some butterbeer.