It’s a Keeper: Harry Potter Studio Tour Review
If you’re a London-based muggle like myself, then you should sort yourself a visit to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter studio tour in Watford. It’s quite a drive away, but inside you’ll find the magic of J.K. Rowling’s stories come to life. For any Potter-head, you’ll be thrilled with the riddikulus number of props and experiences on offer in this tour and exhibition. Here’s a review of my experience!
All this time?
Obliviate any expectations about getting there on a whim. The studio tour is located adjacent to the original filming location, meaning it’s not terribly close to central London. There’s plenty of options to get there, so no need to worry. By car or train it’s about an hour – hour and a hour and there are multiple tour companies that cover off this activity too.
We did the latter option paying £77 for a tour bus that left from Victoria station. The movie played during the bus ride which was a quaint touch. You save about £30 making your own way here so I’d probably do that next time and recommend that to most non-lazy people.
I do highly recommend refreshing your mind re-watching a few of the films before making your way here. It makes it that much more meaningful when you have the scenes fresh in your mind.
Note that regardless of which way you get there, you need to book in advance for entry! Visitors are capped which is a good thing, so it never feels overly crowded. More detailed info on transport is available here.
Tickets to the Harry Potter Studio Tour are timed, so make sure to pay attention to public transport timetables as well if you go with that option. At the moment entry costs £41 for a standard adult ticket.
Whilst the average tour takes approximately three and a half hours, we much closer to the two and a half hour mark. Of course, you can take more time to check out everything more slowly as well. It’s not a huge space so definitely don’t rush anything.
The studio starts by picking up an optional guide at the lobby before queueing for the entrance. On the left hand side is the studio cafe and on the right is the studio shop. Save that for last though, there’s plenty to shop for. Once you go past the cupboard under the stairs you’ll go through the only real guided part of the tour at the cinema. A little tip is to stand towards the front doors so you can be amongst the first to enter the Great Hall before the crowd accumulates.
Props to that
The main room will feature plenty of displays. It all follows a linear flow so its easy enough to navigate. I enjoyed checking out all the scenes, the costumes and reminiscing on the stories. For any fan it’s worth it for this alone. If you’re not so into Harry Potter, then you might not get that much out of the experience. It’s not a cheap one either, mind you. Priceless for some.
You’re a wizard! For a bit more interaction there’s an opportunity for some photos/ videos with broom riding on the green screen.
The Studio tour boasts some additions from time to time, and during our visit it was the Forbidden Forest. Nothing overly spectacular though. It’s tiny but does feature some cool replicas of some familiar creatures. Platform 3/4 will give you the iconic trolley snap as well as a neat experience on the carriage.
I quite liked the Backlot cafe. Well more accurately, the Butterbeer here. It’s a delicious creaming soda taste with a buttery finish. Slightly artificial but I liked the caramel notes. I got the option with a take home plastic mug, which still adorns my desk today. I would highly recommend getting or sharing one and you can also get in ice-cream form. The burger was a bit rubbish.
The ‘outdoorsy’ part of the Studio Tour features Privet Drive before you get into the Creature Effects and special FX departments.
The next two sections represent my favourite parts of the Studio Tour – that’s Diagon Alley and the model room. Fun to soak up the atmosphere.
The replica Hogwarts castle:
And after all that you end up in the very well stocked gift shop. The range is excellent for the Harry Potter fan but the prices are rather extortionate. Some of it you can’t easily find elsewhere so if you must have it, here is where you’ll find it. By the way there’s a few gift shops littered around the studio tour but everything you can find in the final shop anyway.
Snitch, don’t kill my vibe
So Sirious-ly, would I recommend it? So overall, as a above average Harry Potter geek I really enjoyed my experience at the Warner Brothers Studio Tour. It’s small and far away enough that it becomes a bit of a daytrip in itself. The stories of Harry, Hermione and Ron were such a big part of my adolescence and revisiting that and seeing the tools that made this happenwas exciting. And a good excuse to enjoy the movies again
Other London Harry Potter experiences: House of MinaLima in Soho (they produced the art for the movies) and sell stuff and the Cursed Child play (my favourite show I’ve seen in London!).