The world is full of magic. We each choose to see it in a different way.
As a lifelong traveler, I find magical experiences in countries and cities where I least expect them. I also seek them out by pursuing my passion and interest while I travel.
Maybe you, like me, love Harry Potter so much that it motivates you to travel. No shame here – I freely admit that my desire to visit London for the first time was in part motivated by a desire to see the place I had read so much about in the series.
While in London, it was a requirement to visit The Making of Harry Potter (aka the Harry Potter Studio Tour) in Leavesden. This is the most ‘real’ Harry Potter experience you can have since it includes all of the props and sets from the movies. If you want to visit too, consider this your personal guide. ✨
Note: My photos are not the greatest, as I shot them on an iPhone 4 in 2012. Hopefully, they’ll still give you a good sense of the experience despite their distinctly non-HD quality!
How to Get to Warner Brothers Studios in Leavesden
Getting to the Leavesden studios is not easy, as it’s well outside of London. That said, here are the basic instructions:
- Catch a London Midlands train from Euston Station to Watford Junction station. (~£9.90, 33 minutes)
- Catch a Mullaney’s Tours bus to the studio. (£2.50, 15 minutes)
You should plan it to take an hour to get from London to the Leavesden studios, since the transfer from the train to the bus may take additional time.
The WB Studio Tour website has a helpful journey planner here.
How to Spend a Perfect Day at the Harry Potter Studio Tour
It’s difficult to know exactly how long each person might need at The Making of Harry Potter tour, but my guess is that roughly six hours is sufficient for most people. Timing your trip to go through the middle of the day may help cut down on crowds at the tour and crowded trains, too.
10:30 am – Arrive, Queue Up, and Peek in the Cupboard Under the Stairs
Depending on the time of your visit, you may need to queue (aka line up for us non-Brits) to get your tickets and enter the cinema. During this time, be sure to snag a peek into the Cupboard Under the Stairs – the first set you’ll see during this day of movie magic!
11:00 am – Surprise & Delight in the Cinema
After getting your tickets, you’ll enter a cinema to watch a pretty darn magical short film about the Making of Harry Potter. At the end, there’s a pretty fantastic revelation that gets you in the mood for the magic you’re about to see first-hand.
11:15 am – Explore the Great Hall
Start your set tour in the Great Hall. Arguably one of the most important sets in the entire movie (I mean seriously, how much happens in the Great Hall – like everything!), it’s easy to spend a long time exploring the details of this room. From costumes to place settings, you’ll start to get a sense for how deeply the production team went to actually create the world of Harry Potter for the films.
11:30 am – Examine the Interior Sets
Once you depart the Great Hall, you’ll arrive in a large room of sets. Here, you can see some of the coolest props and most important sets from the series, including:
- Dumbledore’s Office
- The Gryffindor Boy’s Dormitory
- Snape’s Potion Classroom
- The Mirror of Erised
… and loads more. It’s easy to get overwhelmed here, so give yourself plenty of time to see it all!
12:30 pm – All Aboard! the Hogwarts Express
New since my visit in late 2012, you can leave the Interior Sets room to see a full-size replica of the Hogwarts Express!
In this room, you’ll be able to get all the selfies you want with the famous red steam engine and explore a carriage like the one Harry, Ron, and Hermione rode in most years on their way to Hogwarts.
⚡Protip: Grab an opportunity to snap a photo at another ‘Platform 9&¾’ similar to the one at King’s Cross Station in London.
1:00 pm – Refuel with a Butterbeer at the Backlot Café
After a morning of amazement, you’ll need a break, so stop by the Backlot Café for a Butterbeer. By far, this is my favorite Butterbeer recipe in the world (I’ve also tried it at Universal Studios Orlando and Universal Studios Hollywood). It is the creamiest, dreamiest Butterbeer recipe by far, and a must-not-miss experience. There’s also a Butterbeer ice cream option, perfect for warmer months.
⚡Protip: Be sure to purchase the commemorative glass when you order your Butterbeer, for £6.95.
1:30 pm – Wander Around the Back Lot
The Back Lot is again full of some highly recognizable Harry Potter sights, not limited to:
- The ‘violently purple’ triple-decker Knight Bus
- The grave of Tom Riddle Sr.
- Sirius’/Hagrid’s Motorbike
- Life-size Chess pieces
You probably won’t need as much time in the Back Lot as in the Interior Sets, but you can certainly spend a while here should you choose to.
2:00 pm – Enter Diagon Alley
Head back indoors to a full-size set of Diagon Alley. This will seem rather familiar to anyone who has visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, but different enough to still be fascinating. For me, all of the magic of Harry’s first visit to Diagon Alley came rushing back over me as I entered the moodily-lit street lined with shops of every color.
2:45 pm – Examine the Models and Enter the Model Room
As you reach the end of Diagon Alley, you’ll begin to see some of the ‘practical’ magic that made the Harry Potter movies so enchanting. Scale models of a variety of things – including the Durmstrang ship – are displayed in beautiful cases and give you a sense of how hard the whole production team worked on these movies.
After a ‘warm up’ with these scale models, you’ll enter the Hogwarts Model Room. This is by far the most important and magical part of the Harry Potter Studio Tour. You’ll get a 360-degree experience of Hogwarts… and it is the Hogwarts they used in many exterior scenes of the castle during the movies. Combined with the music in this room, expect your heart to swell up with Harry Potter magic!
3:00 pm – End Your Tour with Souvenir Shopping
At the end of the tour, you’ll arrive in the Studio Shop. This is a good chance to buy any Harry Potter themed souvenirs you need. If like me, you already own a ton of Harry Potter stuff, it’s a good chance to buy gifts for others.
Bonus – The Forbidden Forest
New this year, The Making of Harry Potter opened a permanent exhibit on The Forbidden Forest. As I haven’t had the chance to visit this yet, I can’t report on its location or where it should fall in your tour, but you can expect to see:
- Hagrid’s Costume
- A life-size model of Buckbeak
- Huge tree replicas to give you the feeling of really being in the forest
- Aragog! ?
Additional Exhibits at the Harry Potter Studio Tour
Throughout the year, there are additional exhibits within the Harry Potter studio tour that you may want to visit. This year, they are as follows:
- July 21st to September 4th – Wizarding Wardrobes, displaying some of the many hand-made costumes from the films.
- October 1st to November 12th – The Dark Arts, a chance to dive deeper into the world of dark magic and the props/costumes that brought this side of the story to life.
- November 18th to February 4th (2018) – Hogwarts in the Snow, a holiday-themed transformation of some top sights in the studio tour.
What You Need to Know About Visiting the Harry Potter Studio Tour
Here are some of the last things you need to know before visiting The Making of Harry Potter:
Ticket Price: £39 for adults, £31 for children. A ‘saver ticket’ option can save you a few pounds on certain days. You can also upgrade to the audio guide ticket for an additional £9.95 per person.
Hours of Operation: Opening times vary greatly by day and week. Generally, the Harry Potter Studio Tour opens at either 8:30 am or 9:30 am with the first tour 30 minutes later. You can view opening times when you purchase tickets.
Avoiding Crowds: As one of the more popular London-area sights for Harry Potter fans, there are crowds to contend with. You can either try and time your visit on a less busy day, or if you are okay with a shorter visit, plan an evening trip and cut your experience shorter.
Click Here to Book Tickets to the Harry Potter Studio Tour (“The Making of Harry Potter”) at Warner Brothers Studios in Leavesden
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