As I was searching online for things to do before heading to London last June, I came across the Warner Bros. Harry Potter Studio tour in which you get to visit the set and see the making of the films. Being a Harry Potter junkie, I knew I couldn’t leave London without doing this. I booked my ticket online with Premium Tours and got the student discount for 51 pounds (I later found out you can get cheaper tickets on the official website for 33 pounds. This price doesn’t include transportation like the former does although you can get there for 2 pounds by shuttle – details provided on the site). The tour operates daily at different times throughout the day and takes around 6-7 hours with transport. I recommend going in the afternoon so that you can do some sightseeing in the morning and grab some lunch before you head out.
Once I arrived and entered the venue, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Since I had booked with a tour company, we skipped the queues and began the tour right away. First stop was the Great Hall, the famous dining area of the four Hogwarts houses (Fun fact: In the first film, real candles were used to create the illusion of floating candles in the Great Hall ceiling, up until wax started dripping on the actors and they had to replace them with animated ones). Throughout the Great Hall and the entire studios, there were mannequins dressed in the actual wardrobe that the characters wore which was really cool.
From the Great Hall we continued out to the main studio which contained all the well-known sets such as the Gryffindor common room, Dumbledore’s office, the potions lab, Hagrid’s hut etc. I was a little disappointed that they were fenced off and that we couldn’t go inside; nonetheless I was happy to see them up close. Along with the many sets scattered around the studio, there were countless props on display. My favorites were the golden snitch, the golden egg from the Triwizard tournament, and the door of the Chamber of Secrets (Fun fact: The opening of the door was real mechanics and not animation, they actually built a mechanic door which they were able to operate and open with a remote!) There was plenty of interactive things to do as well, like having a video shot of yourself riding a broomstick around London, but you were charged extra for these things.
Walking out of the main studio, we made our way to the back lot. This area is home to the famous Privet drive, Godric’s Hollow, the Hogwarts bridge, the Knightbus as well as the enchanted car that Ron and Harry used to get to Hogwarts in the second film. There’s also a small shack that sells butterbeer (Fun fact: This is one out of only two places in the world that you can get butterbeer). Of course I couldn’t resist trying it and happily snapped a photo. It tasted pretty good, like a carbonated vanilla drink.
After sipping on butterbeer, we went into the second studio. In here were the man-made magical creatures and beasts featured throughout the films, such as Aragog the spider and Dobby the elf. Next, we walked into the set of Diagon Alley! This was probably the best set out of them all because we were able to walk up/down the main street which included places like Ollivander’s wand shop, Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezies, and Gringott’s bank.
Lastly, we entered a dark room where a model of the Hogwarts castle and grounds that was used for the long shots in the films was on display. From there we entered the gift shop and that marked the end of the tour. The gift shop itself was just as impressive as the studios. There were hundreds of items to buy, from house robes and scarves to chocolate frogs and wands. Unfortunately, most items were expensive so I walked out with only a scarf, a mug, and key ring.
Verdict: It was a truly magical experience. The amount of work and effort that went into making the Harry Potter films really impressed me. I thought I knew everything there was to know about Harry Potter but I learnt a lot in visiting the studios. The fun facts provided in this review are courtesy of the super friendly studio staff, most of whom were extras in the films. I rate this tour 5/5; it’s definitely a must-see for any fan and definitely worth its price. Best part is that I can finally say that I’ve been to Hogwarts 😉
P.s: A new set, platform 9 & ¾, is expected to open March 19th!
Are you a Harry Potter fan? Have you been to the Harry Potter Studios or theme park? Let me know your thoughts and make sure to check out the gallery below xx