Your Guide to the Magical World of the Making of Harry Potter
A trip to London is never complete for Harry Potter fans a.k.a. Potterheads until they’ve experienced the infamous Warner Brothers Studio Tour London! A Potterhead myself, I booked my tour ticket months in advance–as in the same month I bought my ticket to London. If you’re planning to take the tour, I cannot stress this enough: book in advance. The minute you get your plane ticket to London, book your Harry Potter tour, especially if you’re going during the summer. Tickets sell fast, and they’re only available online.
Before we go on, let me set the mood with the perfect song that will help you apparate–even only through imagination–to the wondrous world of Harry Potter. So click play on the Spotify player above, dear reader!
On we go!
I alighted the Harry Potter bus to this view, and it took all of me not to squeal out of excitement. Oh, the fan-girl in me will live forever may it be for bands, books or art!
The Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour London is outside of central London, in Leavesden, about 45 minutes away by train because I had to switch platforms.
HOW TO GET THERE:
Unfortunately, for muggles like us, we cannot fly a broom or use the floo network. Thankfully, we can opt to go by bus or train! It depends where you’re coming from, but the fastest way is by taking the London Underground to Watford Junction Station. If you’re unsure which line to take, you can always approach the officers at the tube station. In my case, I got directions from the nice guy at the front desk of my hotel. You can also click this link to get detailed directions. It’s the official website of the studio tour.
As soon as I arrived at the station, I had to search for the official Warner Brothers Studio Tour shuttle bus, which takes me straight to the studio lot proper. It’s about a five to ten minute ride from Watford Junction station. I paid £2.
Once I arrived at the studio, I proceeded to the ticketing area to exchange my printed online confirmation for an actual ticket! Inside the studio proper, I claimed my audio guide. For those of you who have read Film Wizardry, the audio guide’s similar to its contents; but if you don’t mind listening to it again with Tom Felton as your guide, then you should get the audio guide. It’s perfect for when you want to go at your own pace and learn more about each station.
This is one tip I wish I knew before I entered the actual tour: EAT. It’s a one-time pass, so once you’re inside the tour, you can’t go back out unless you’re finished. There’s a cafeteria to your left, and I suggest eating a big, hearty meal before you enter. You should arrive at least an hour prior to your scheduled tour if you plan on eating.
My tour was scheduled at around 10:30AM, so I was thinking I’d finish by lunch time. I was wrong. I ended up starving myself because hello, IT’S THE HARRY POTTER TOUR. I wasn’t going to rush the tour because I was hungry though at some point I felt like passing out. There is just so much to see you can spend at least half a day there. I finished my tour at almost 3pm. Good thing they had a hotdog stand at the middle of the tour, but I ate a big chicken sandwich in the cafeteria after. Haha!
There’s a long queue to enter the tour, but the line moves quickly. As I was waiting, I saw Harry’s cupboard under the stairs! I then entered an empty room surrounded with television screens with about fifty or more people. After a short introductory video, we had to enter a cinema-like room, and watched another video with Emma, Rupert and Dan talking to us and welcoming us to the tour. I got goosebumps when screen rolled up and the gigantic doors to The Great Hall was in front of us!!!! My excitement level couldn’t be contained at this point!
If you want to experience a bit more magic, I suggest you visit on your birthday. I won’t spoil the surprise, but I wish it was my birthday when I visited.
We had a lovely tour guide who walked us through the first part of the tour, and, yes, opened the gates of the Great Hall for us! It’s so much smaller than what I expected it to be, but nonetheless, it was surreal to be there. I was standing in the same hall where my favourite actors had filmed one of my favourite movie-series!
After our guide gave us trivia about the items around us, we were off to explore at our own pace. I had Tom Felton keeping me company the whole time. 😉
The first leg of the tour includes The Great Hall, Behind the Scenes items such as the costumes/wigs/props used in all eight films as well as the actual furniture used. Here’s a trivia about the studio: for about 55 years, it used to be an aircraft factory!
When I visited the studio, the special feature during that time was broomsticks, so there was a booth dedicated to broom-stick making. There were specialty artists who made the brooms for the film who were carving brooms on the spot. I really wanted to take one home with me, but I don’t think they were for sale!
Is that for me? Two hundred galleons you say? I’ll take it!!!
There’s just so much to see that I was overwhelmed with what to focus on next. I did queue to ride a broomstick and the Angelina Ford, even if it meant sitting on stationary items. It’s the experience that counts, and oh, they give you the official Hogwarts robe while you ride the broom. I’ve no shame in lining up for this activity solo and amid lots of children. HAHA!
The second leg of the tour was the backlot where the set items such as the Hogwarts Bridge, Knight Bus, Chess Pieces, Privet Drive are located! This was also where I momentarily satisfied my hunger with a hotdog and some butterbeer!
I may be one of the few who don’t like this drink! I was really expecting a lot because everyone who’s tried said it was delicious. To me, it tasted like sparking water with sugar! I still encourage you to try it because you might love it. My friend says the frozen butterbeer tastes better than chilled.
After taking a fifteen minute lunch break, I ventured on to the next part which featured the prosthetics and animal creatures in the film as well as the scaled paper models of all the sets from Dumbledore’s office to the shops in Diagon Alley. Everyone who worked on the Harry Potter films are brilliant artists I tell you. They have such attention to detail. It’s incredible.
Finally, one of the most exciting parts of the tour: Diagon Alley!!! <3 If you noticed, I didn’t post that many photos. I took over a hundred that day, but it’s better for you to experience the magic yourself!
My favourite part of the tour was the life-sized model of Hogwarts. I was so overwhelmed that I cried. Tears of joy, mind you. I just couldn’t believe that after years and years of loving this film so much that it hurt, I was finally at a place I’d dream of for so long!
See how huge it was!
I probably stayed in this room for more than twenty minutes. I didn’t want to leave, but my body was telling me to have a proper lunch, so…
This is the last thing you’ll see before you enter the gift shop. I spent another twenty minutes or so being very indecisive about what souvenir to bring home with me. Everything was lovely, but I was on a budget. I had bought Hermione’s wand in Oxford because I had a discount at one of the University shops, so I settled for getting a time-turner key chain and a beautiful maroon journal with the Hogwarts crest engraved. I’ve had the thing for months, but it’s still blank. It’s too pretty to use! I was tempted to buy the interactive Marauderer’s map but it was about 40 pounds. I had just splurged on the wand, so it’s something I’ll have to save up for next time.
So that’s about it! I won’t bore you with details of me going to the cafeteria and grabbing my chicken sandwich. Have you guys ever visited the Warner Brothers Studio Tour? What was your favourite part? Do you have any tips you want to share? I’d love to hear them in the comment box below 🙂