Do you love Harry Potter? Then you need to visit the Harry Potter Studio and go on a tour! Do you want more information about the Harry Potter Studio Tour? Are you looking for hotels near the Harry Potter Studio? Or do you need a Harry Potter Tour Ticket resale? Then read on and join us on our journey into the world of Hogwarts and Wizards on a Harry Potter Studio tour…
The Harry Potter Studio Tour is a must visit for all Harry Potter fans! The Warner Bros Studio in Watford is an immersive walk-through experience visiting some of the best-known sets, most-loved costumes, and gives a glimpse behind the scenes into the dazzling special effects of the movies!
Sneha has been a huge Harry Potter fan since being a child. And while Paul wouldn’t consider himself a super-fan, he has seen all the movies and read some of the books.
So we decided to take a trip tin the run up to Christmas when the Harry Potter Studio Tour has a Hogwarts in the Snow experience, with the sets dressed for the festive season…
Watch the highlights of our day...
The Great Hall of Hogwarts
The tour starts off at the only place it could... after a short intro movie in a theatre, the screen rolls up and reveals huge double doors. We all queue up excitedly, and as they're pushed open and we walk through, we step into the Great Hall of Hogwarts!
If you've seen the movies then this needs no introduction! Some of the most famous scenes from the movies are filmed here... where Harry and his friends are "sorted" into Gryffindor, where the Yule Ball and all of the celebrations and banquets take place, and where the winning house is announced at the end of each school year.
It's a huge cavernous hall with candles hanging from the ceiling. Long tables full of food and drink as if we've entered mid-feast. And beautiful Christmas trees and decorations for the festive period.
Once everybody is inside the hall, we all gather around one of the tables as the tour guide fires up the caldrons, and we feel like we should be wearing our Hogwarts robes to sit and enjoy the feast in front of us.
At the front of the Hall on stage all the teachers are there... Dumbledore, Snape, McGonagall, Quirinus Quirrell, plus Hagrid and Filch!
It really feels like we've stepped into Hogwarts and the wizarding world of Harry Potter, and sets up the rest of the day perfectly!
Harry Potter Studio Tour Sets
We leave the Great Hall and by the doors near the stage, and we step into another even bigger space!
Rather than being one large set like the Great Hall, this room is separated and has lots of small looking sets all around a huge studio, and it takes Paul a minute to realise that these are also actual sets from the movies!
Walking around there's The Gryffindor common room, the Gryffindor boy's bedroom, Dumbledore's office, the Potions Classroom, plus many many more! They all look so cool!
And some also look tiny! The beds in the Gryffindor common room were built for the first movie when the actors were 11 or 12 years old. By the time the movies came to and end and the actors were in their early 20's, it was a quite a squeeze for them in the same beds!
As well as the many sets, there are costumes worn by the actors, props used, and everything is set up like a scene from the movies with mannequins dressed as the characters. Professor Snape in the Potions classroom, Hagrid in his hut, Dumbledore in his office, and of course Harry, Hermione and Ron in the Gryffindor common room. All so cool!
Green Screen Experience at the Harry Potter Studio Tour
Alongside the sets is also an immersive green screen experience.
Sneha joins the line and gets a photo taken to begin with, before climbing onto a broom stick and flying through the streets of London to the Scottish countryside, all the way to Hogwarts!
It's a nice experience but the photos and video are very expensive to keep, so she decides to just treasure the memory instead!
The Forbidden Forest
After seeing more sets including parts of the Ministry of Magic and a gathering of the Death Eaters, next on the tour is the Forbidden Forest. And this is one of the highlights of the Harry Potter Studio Tour!
As we walk through the gates and enter the forest, the sky turns dark and a mist engulfs us, and we feel like we're really walking through the forest at night! Up ahead there's a Hippogriff in the trees, and having got one to look after in the game earlier, Sneha bows and befriends him!
We head deeper into the forest, ducking under trees and finding our way through the maze, until we attacked by giant spiders from all around! They come down from the overhead branches, they jump out from the tree roots, and we have to make our escape from the forest before they attack! (ok so this is a little exaggerated, it's all pretty slow and not as scary as it may sound!)
We take a break and regroup in a shop at the end of the Forbidden Forest, and prepare ourselves for the next part of the tour...
Platform 9 ¾ & The Hogwarts Express
We enter platform 9 ¾ (luckily not having to run through a brick wall to get there!) as the whistles blow on the Hogwarts Express, and we need to hurry as the train is about the leave!
We rush down the platform and climb aboard just in time, being taken through a journey through the movies as each carriage is decorated to depict a scene from each. From carriages strewn with sweets and school clothes, to Ron's handprint on the window from when the Dementors attacked, fans will recognise the key scenes filmed on the Hogwarts Express.
There's another green screen experience here where you can sit in the carriages used to film some of the scenes, with the special effects added to show the scenery in the background.
The Backlot... Privet Drive & Professor Sprout's Greenhouse
The only part of the tour which is outside is the Backlot, where the houses of Privet Drive and Professor Sprout's Greenhouse are, along with Hagrid's motorbike, the Weasley's flying car, and the Knight Bus.
Sneha gets to ride Hagrid's motorbike and drive the Weasley's car (luckily it stays firmly on the ground!). We climb aboard the Knight Bus headed for London. And we go inside the Dursley's home full of flying letters for Harry... and we see Dobby!!
As we walk through Professor Sprout's Greenhouse we can hear the screams of the mandrakes, as people pull them out of their pots to reveal the baby-like plant hidden below the soil!
Gringots Wizarding Bank
One of the most amazing sets in the Harry Potter Studio Tour, and Sneha's favourite, is Gringots Wizarding Bank.
We walk into the grand banking hall, lined by giant marble columns, with 3 huge sparkling chandeliers hanging from the ceiling. It's enormous, and the attention to detail is incredible. Quills standing in inkwells, ledgers and coins, and goblins sat at the desks waiting for the next customer.
Sneha is mesmerised, and approaches the main tellers desk to ask for some Galleons, Sickles and Knuts.
It feels very royal to be in Gringots Bank, not like it's a movie set. Everything looks so real!
Further on in the special effects area, we also see the destruction of the Bank by a Ukrainian Ironbelly Dragon. The giant marble columns now lying broken on the ground, the huge chandeliers hanging off the ceiling, and the tellers desks collapsing as the Dragon fills the room with fire!
After having asked the goblin bank teller very nicely, we're allowed to enter the Gringots Vaults before we leave!
But it looks like we're too late, and Harry, Hermione and Ron have beaten us to it! They're already going through the treasure of Bellatrix Lestrange's Vault, finding the Hufflepuff Cup!
Leaving Gringots Bank we step onto the most famous street in the wizarding world... Diagon Alley!
The small and ancient cobbled street, with wonky shops lining both sides, is a favourite of Harry Potter fans with them coming from all over the world to see real-life versions in The Shambles in York, Victoria Street in Edinburgh, and Cecil Court in London.
But nothing beats being able to walk along the actual Diagon Alley, complete with snow, and look at the shop windows of Ollivanders wand shop, Mr Mulpepper’s Apothecary, Madam Malkin's Robes for All Occasions, and Weasley's Wizard Wheezes.
The last room of the tour is the Model Room, and we don't really know what to expect after having seen all of the wonderful sets from the movies.
But as we walk in, all we can say is WOW! The room is filled with a giant model of Hogwarts Castle, built at a 1:15 scale. The detail of it is amazing, and we learn that it was actually used for a lot of the external shots of the castle used in the movies!
Video screens tell us more info about different parts of the castle, and a film shows the model being filmed with a green screen, and then the transitions into CGI to make the final movie scenes... absolutely astounding!
Visiting during the festive season makes the experience even more magical... snow is falling covering the castle and grounds, the music playing as the lights go from night to day... truly magical!
It's the perfect way to end a great tour and day at the Harry Potter Studio Tour.
Harry Potter Studio Tour Costumes & Visual Effects
As well as seeing and being able to walk through all of the amazing sets, there is a separate section of the Harry Potter Studio Tour dedicated to the costumes and visual effects departments.
Here we get to see how some of the most magical creatures were created, from models used to generate CGI versions of some of the characters, to full size costumes worn by the actors.
Dobby is there, and Sneha gets to control him in front of an interactive screen with sensors picking up her movements and Dobby mirroring them on screen. There is a very realistic (and slightly scary!) Merpeople head straight from The Great Lake and the Triwizard Tournament. And Buckbeak is on show, a moving Hippogriff with a video telling the story behind how he was brought to life for the movies.
And no costume and visual effects area would be complete without the Goblins from Harry Potter! A whole area is dedicated to them, with the actual costumes which the actor Warwick Davis wore, the many different masks used, and videos showing the painstaking attention to detail and the make-up efforts required to create the Gringots Goblins onscreen.
Shopping on the Harry Potter Studio Tour
There are lots of shops around the Harry Potter Studio Tour, selling everything you can imagine though and more! Robes, school jumpers, wands and sweets. Chess sets, Quidditch games, mugs and Christmas decorations. If you want something, anything, Harry Potter themed, then this is the place for you!
with some themed for the area they're in, e.g. on Platform 9 3/4 the shop sells all Hogwarts Express memorabilia. This also means that some of the shops have exclusive items not available in the other shops.
Not all of the shops sell the same things, so be sure to check them all out to see the full range. The main shop is in the lobby so it's worthwhile taking a look around before you start the tour, and then the tour ends in the shop too.
Where to get food on the Harry Potter Studio Tour
The cafés at the Harry Potter Studio Tour are surprisingly good! We started our day with breakfast in the main café, getting a breakfast muffin, with Paul getting a coffee from the same café but Sneha opting for one from the Starbucks stand there. And while eating breakfast, we also see Harry Potter himself enjoying breakfast!
Half-way around the tour is the Backlot Café. It's a good spot for lunch, serving hotdogs, festive chicken wings, and loaded fries. But the best part is we get Butterbeer!
While the quality of food is pretty good and the butterbeer is great, it is fairly expensive, but then what isn't these days! For the portion size and quality, it is similar as you'd pay in a city centre café so isn't too bad really.
The price of the Butterbeer includes a deposit for the branded butterbeer mug, meaning you can either take the mug home or return it for your deposit back. There is a washing station outside where some people dump their unwanted dirty mugs (presumably not realising they can return them for a deposit), so as long as you're certain they have been discarded then you can stock up and collect a full set of mugs!
Harry Potter Studio Tour Tickets & Resale
Tickets for the Harry Potter Studio Tour can sell out months in advance, particularly at peak times like school holidays or at Christmas like when we visited.
Our trip was quite a last-minute plan, and to our disappointment, the official website was completely sold out of tickets! Luckily, after some quick searching on Google, we found some Harry Potter Studio Tour tickets resale on GetYourGuide.com!
The tickets were the same price as they would have been from the official website, and they also include a boat trip on the Thames if you’re also visiting London. And it couldn't have been easier to get them, we were sent an email confirmation which we had to show at the ticket office at the entrance, and our tickets were ready and waiting for us in an envelope. Super easy and quick!
For direct tickets… Official Warner Bros Tour Website
For Harry Potter Tour Tickets resale… GetYourGuide Website
Harry Potter Studio Tour Opening Times
The Harry Potter Studio Tour Opening Times can differ slightly from day to day, but generally they are open 9.30am to 8pm on weekdays, and 8.30am to 10pm on weekdays and holidays.
But it’s best to check ahead to make sure using the link below…
To check opening times… Harry Potter Studio Tour Opening Times Website
What's On & the Best Time to Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour
We visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour during the Christmas period and so the Hogwarts in the Snow experience was on. It was magical to see the sets in the snow and dressed for Christmas, but while this may be the best time to visit (in our opinion at least!), there really is no bad time to visit.
There are different themes running throughout the year, so check out the website for more details... What's On at the Harry Potter Studio Tour
Hotels Near Harry Potter Studios
The Harry Potter Studios are in Leavesden in Watford, around 1 hour from London.
There are many hotels near the Harry Potter Studios with Watford being quite a large town, so you’re sure to find a hotel for your needs whether you’re looking for budget friendly or something more luxurious.
We were only spending 1 night in the area and just needed a base to stay, so we opted for the budget friendly Leonardo Hotel London Watford.
The hotel is really nice for the price... clean, recently refurbished, and well positioned to walk into Watford for some food and only a 10-minute drive from the Harry Potter Studio. A great base to stay at!
To book the hotel directly… Leonardo Hotel Website