Did you know I'm a huge Harry Potter fan? MASSIVE actually. Well, you probably did but it can't hurt to mention it again, does it? So after being MIA for a couple of months (which can happen, if you move countries), it can’t hurt to come back with a solid Harry Potter post. As soon as I booked my trip to London a while back I also set up a date to visit the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios and casually forced all my friends to come with me, too (#skills). I immediately roamed the internet in search for helpful tips, tricks and everything else there was to know. If you find yourself in the same boat, this post is just for you!
Accio: Purchasing tickets
The Harry Potter Studio Tour is a damn popular attraction, so you should book your tickets as far in advance as you can to make sure you get your desired time and date. As they don't sell any tickets at the door, you really need to buy them online in advance. You can book the tickets right on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour website.
Don't stress too much if you and your friends didn't get the same tour times again. You can easily meet up inside and the staff is super friendly and might let you all in together anyways. This was at least absolutely no problem for my group, as we had different entry times as well.
Chose the time of your entry wisely. As there is no limit on how much time you spend in the studios (the times are just to regulate the entry), you might want to book as early as possible to spend as many hours as possible inside. However, it might not be as busy during later hours so you might get a great shot or two without another ten thousand tourists in your way.
Keep an eye out for special events and ticket options. The studios have different special exhibitions throughout the year. When I went, the special exhibition was all about the Triwizard Tournament. Other special exhibitions planned for this year are The Dark Arts and Hogwarts In The Snow. There are also special events like Harry Potter Quizzes.
Definitely keep your confirmation number! You will need it to either print your actual tickets out at the kiosk just outside the studios or give it to the staff at the ticket window.
Relashio: How to get there
The Warner Bros. Studios aren't exactly centrally located. Thus, you'll need to plan ahead on how to get there. The official website contains information about getting to the studios by car, train or bus. We purchased a ticket from the London Euston train station to the Watford Junction station. You can buy tickets for the train ride either in advance or right at the train station.
Once you arrive at the Watford Junction station there's a shuttle bus right outside the station, which will bring you right to the studios. It runs every 20 minutes and takes about 15 minutes. A round trip ticket costs £2.50, which you will have to pay in cash, so definitely make sure to bring some!
There are different trains to Watford Junction: an express train and a local train. Depending on how much time you have at hand, make sure you get on the right train. Also make sure to collect all your tickets from the kiosk, when you buy a return ticket. You will get separate tickets for every ride and every person. We unfortunately seemed to miss that and left for the train while the kiosk was still printing and had to pay extra.
Plan enough time to get there, even though the train rides don't take that long, you might have to stand in line for the bus and the entrance to the studios. Even though the staff isn't super strict with the entrance times, you should still aim to be on time.
Alohomora: Getting into the studios
After you collected your tickets there's a small security checkpoint before you're allowed to enter. You'll find a bistro, restrooms and a coat check on the way to the starting point of the tour. You will also get the chance to pick up your audio guides or any specials you might have booked with your tickets. At the starting point you'll queue up with the other guests for their scheduled time.
Don't worry that you'll be annoyed by all the traveling and queuing by them. I was so afraid to be bummed out since we already forgot half of our train tickets and some of my friends (which I hadn't seen in YEARS) were late for the whole thing. Everything was so well made and mesmerizing though, that I had absolutely no problem being in a magical Harry Potter mood.
The first step of the tour is a small theatre where you'll be shown a short film, which I already thought was awesome! After the first introduction from the staff you will be escorted into a movie theatre room. In this room, the real magic begins. After you are being escorted into the Great Hall, you can complete the tour at your own pace.
Obviously you'll get the opportunity to spend lots of money. The bistro in the beginning is ok for emergencies (like, if you need a cider after your tour), but I would recommend bringing some small snacks, which you'll be able to eat in a picnic area halfway through the tour. That way you can spend all your money in the gift shop.
Think twice if you want to check your coat! There is a coat check in the entrance area and you might don't want to carry your coat all the way through the entire studios. However, there is a part of the tour, which is outside. I took the tour in May and the weather was quite warm so we didn't have this problem at all. You don't want to cut back on the outside area though or be terribly cold.
This one is important: Try to score a seat in the front row of the movie theatre room. From there you will make your way right into the Great Hall and if you're the first one to enter, you will get lots of great shots for your Harry Potter Studio Scrapbook!
Lumos: Inside the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios
What should you expect once you're inside the studios? Basically this: pure magic. I thought I knew a lot about the films but there is just so much to discover! The whole tour is very interactive, too, so you'll be able to read lots of information, take pictures and learn about the special effects and the making of the movies in general. As there is no time limit, do it all. Do it twice!
As the name should already indicate, this is a Studio Tour. Of course you'll be able to get your picture at King's Cross Station and sit on the Hogwarts Express. You should not, however, confuse the studios with a theme park such as The Wizarding World Of Harry Potter in Orlando, FL (which is of course also worth a visit!).
Instead of fun rides and roller coasters you will find tons of costumes, sets, props, videos about the special effects and much more!
Definitely save some money for the gift shop at the end of the tour. You'll will find your perfect souvenir (and believe me, you will want a souvenir from this magical trip). Marauders Map anyone?
Stay away from the butterbeer! Half way through the tour you will find a picnic area where you will get the chance to buy butterbeer. Although the plastic cup definitely makes for a great souvenir, too, I wouldn't recommend trying it. I don't even know how to describe it or what I expected in return actually, but none of my friends thought it was a particularly tasty treat. Better save your money for the end.
This one might be obvious but definitely charge your batteries before you go. ALL your batteries. My phone died half way through the tours so I was only able to take pictures with my camera and couldn't "live report" to my friends back home via What's App, which I thought was equally important (there's WiFi eveywhere btw) ;)
Watch the movies before you go and pay attention to all the props and sets. You will see so many of them during the tour!
If you are a Potterhead like me, you will definitely LOVE the Studio Tour! It is definitely wort it harassing all your friends, too (even if some of my friends weren't particularly huge fans, they still had a great time at the studios. Or at last I hope so. Even though they were probably still jetlagged. And even though it was basically the first thing I made them do 2 hours after arriving from all the way across the ocean. You guys, I'm sorry and also you are the best! I love you! :D)
The Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studios are a great activity for families, couples, solo travellers or an amazing group of friends like we were. It's truly unforgettable and well, since the special exhibitions change, you can be sure that I have an excuse to come back!
Kate recommends: The Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio Tour goes well with - well, do I really need to say it?