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.
Book your Warner Bros. Studio Tours London – the Making of Harry Potter tickets and step into the magic world of Hogwarts
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.
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.
The Great Hall is the first set created for the films and by far the largest. If you look up you won’t get to see the Great Hall’s magic ceiling (unless you’re a student of magic) as it’s not visible to Muggles. The set used for the magic ceiling is later on in the tour.
The atmosphere in the Great Hall is impressive as, though the walls are made of plaster, the floor is real flagstone like you’d find in an old castle. Take your time and look at the different costumes on display, the Professors’ table, Dumbledore’s lectern and the massive House Point Counter used to keep the scores for each of the houses.
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.
The Forbidden Forest set was recreated for the Studios. If you’re brave enough, take the path that leads to the lair of the terrifying Aragog (the giant spider from the second Harry Potter book) who lies in wait amongst the trees. Arachnophobes or small children may want to take one of the safer, less scary routes through the forest.
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.
With its gigantic marble columns and magnificent crystal chandeliers, the new, 16,500sqft, Gringotts Wizarding Bank extension lets you experience the awe felt by Harry, Ron and Hermione as they walked through the Bank's majestic hall.
After the hall, visit the Lestrange family vault where the treasure of Ballatrix is stored and see the Sword of Gryffondor and Helga Hufflepuff's Cup. During filming nearly 38.000 pieces of treasure, made out of rubber, were created for the vault including 7,014 Huffllepuff Cups.
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.