“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.”
― J.K. Rowling
Rowling should have also added the studio tour into this quote. There is a comforting familiarity and child-like excitement when visiting Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. And, the anticipation of returning to the studios, for me, is always off the scale!
The Making of Harry Potter is a travel highlight, a literary dream come true and a step into the world of big movie magic. Wave your wand, book a ticket and take a look at what’s in store for you.
If you’ve been before, well prepare to get nostalgic because these post is going to bring back some great memories! And, if you haven’t, well you’re in for a real treat.
Don’t worry, this post and my series of posts is spoiler free…
And, by that, I mean the big reveals aren’t in this blog. There’s pictures of what to expect inside but, that’s it. It’s too magical an experience to want to ruin it for someone else. If there’s anything specific you’d like to know, head to the comments section at the end or my Instagram and I can answer any DMs.
The Making of Harry Potter
This post is going to cover the actual tour once you’re at the studios.
There’s so much ground to cover so, I’ve structured it out to give you a few highlights while sharing advice so you know how to prepare for your day out.
I have started of a Harry Potter series and before you read this, it would be worth reading the first post…
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour really is a full day out. This is not one of those attractions ‘you’ll probably just spend the morning at’.
If you’re a big fan, like me, you’ll want to take your time, make full use of your audio guide and all of the truly spectacular picture opportunities.
The tour is really well organised and sandwiched between facilities and being inside and outside.
Comfy shoes…check! Bag and a bottle of water…check!
Let’s tap on the bricks and head into Diagon Alley!
Cafes, refreshments and pit stops
At the start when you arrive but before you go into the tour there is the tickets collection area, cloakroom, Toilets, Audio Guide, Starbucks, Chocolate Frog Cafe and The Great Hall Restaurant. You’ll want to make sure you’re all sorted before you head in.
Then there’s the tour which is broken into two parts with a food and outside set area in the middle.
Here you’re going to want to stop for Butterbeer and Butterbeer ice cream to achieve a happy face like this one…
Top Tip – make time to rest, soak in everything you’ve just seen and enjoy a break at this half way point. And, get the ice cream whatever the weather!
Harry Potter Sets
One of the main attractions at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour is the many sets you can see during the tour. These really have the wow factor and give you that sense that you’ve stepped straight into one of the Harry Potter films.
Key sets include the Forbidden Forest, Gringotts, The Ministry of Magic, the Great Hall, Platform Nine and Three Quarters and Diagon Alley.
There’s even partial bits of set or key elements on display with like the pendulum clock from the exam scene, the Gringotts vault door with multiple locks and the Chamber of Secrets snake door which Harry and Ron speak parcel tongue at to enter.
This is just a mere scratch on the surface of what’s on display though.
As you move through the tour, you move through different sets containing props, costumes and special effects. It’s so well displayed and there’s a lot to take in and see.
Top tip – you’re going to want your hands free, for audio guides, picture taking and exploring – so make sure you’ve got a sensible bag for your stuff.
Props and Costumes
From horcruxes to all those behind the scenes details we know and love. There’s so many awesome props to see up close. I found the audio guide really incredible at revealing hidden facts about the props. Sets like the potions classroom, Dolores Umbridge’s office and The Burrow’s are full of props.
There’s so many costumes on display from the films that are beautifully displayed on fabric mannequins with the wigs of the characters too. It really gives you an idea of the size of the characters. Lots of them are in scenes set up too which really brings some of the sets to life.
One of my favourite features are the parts that show you how they filmed different depth perspectives. There’s even some opportunities for you to have a go at taking your own pictures to achieve the same effects used in the films.
Top tip – often there’s a member of staff near by these photo opportunities. If you haven’t got a spare person to take a photo, just ask, they’ve always offered when I’ve been there wanting a picture with my friend.
Special, Visual and Creature Effects
Special, visual and creature effects has to be one of my favourite parts of the tour. Wait, I know what you’re going to say, they’re all my favourite parts of the tour – I’m busted! I’ve probably said that at least five times already because there’s just so many highlights.
All throughout the tour you’ll find the details behind how things were done. The audio guide helps fill in any gaps and adds so much detail and context which really gives an insight you’d never have otherwise.
There’s also a section dedicated to the superb art department, sketches, mood boards and storyboard. The level of detail is incredible and so much thought went into how things would look and appear in the film.
Green Screen Experiences
At various stages around the tour there are green screen photo opportunities available at an additional cost with various USB, digital and print options.
The experiences are putting on a Hogwarts robe, in the house of your choice of course, and flying on a broom. There’s also the chance to appear on the ‘Undesirable Number 1’ poster and in a carriage on the Hogwarts Express too.
Of course, there’s a few places you can take your own photos all around the studio tour.
In addition to the huge shop at the end, there’s a shop at the Forbidden Forest and at The Hogwarts Express. Each shop has unique merchandise usually relating to the section you’re in.
Top tip – If you see something along the way it’s best to pick it up there because not everything is in the shop at the end. If you want to wait though, the staff are very helpful and will run back for you if you ask.
We did this as there was a lovely Fantastic Beasts mug which was in the Forbidden Forest shop and we thought we’d be able to pick it up in the big shop at the end.
Thankfully one of the staff ran back and picked one up for us, because once you move forward you can’t go backwards through the tour!
My Trips to the Harry Potter Studio Tour
I’ve been twice so far and both trips have been truly epic days.
My first visit was on the first anniversary of the studios opening. I hadn’t managed to get a ticket before then but it was worth the wait. I took my equally obsessed best friend and we spent the whole day indulging in the Wizarding World.
We’d been there for so long that we nearly broke the record for the longest people to have spent time there. Yes, we really do love it that much, and were gutted to find out we’d missed out on the record by fifteen minutes!
My second visit was more recently, and was just after the Gringotts Wizarding Bank opened. So much had changed and been added on since my first visit. The best bit was this time I shared it with my equally Harry Potter obsessed boyfriend. He loved it!
My next visit
I’m already dreaming about my next couple of visits. One day I’d love to go on Halloween or when they put on ‘Hogwarts in the Snow’ which lasts usually from November to mid January. My next visit was scheduled for 2020 and early 2021 but, both trips were cancelled due to the lockdown. Fingers crossed that I might be able to rebook for later in 2021.
Over the year there’s lots of different exhibition focuses being highlighted. Sometimes it’s been the animals of Harry Potter or a focus on props and items from a particular school house i.e. Slytherin. To be honest, I don’t think there would ever be a bad time to visit!
Top tip – If you want to go at a specific time of year, you’ll need to book about 2-3 months ahead.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
It’s an utterly charming experience if you’re a Harry Potter fan and even if you’re not. The tour has converted even the non-Potter fans in my life. My Uncle David, who’s not a Potter fan, gave it a rave review after taking my Aunt and Mum.
I loved every minute and can’t wait to return to make more Wizarding World memories. Oh, and to pick up the things in the shop I wish I’d bought!
If you want more Harry Potter travel posts, I’ve started a writing some advice posts to read before you go. Here’s the first post in my Harry Potter Series…
Have you been, do you want to go and has this review helped? Let me know in the comments below.