The Harry Potter Studios is one of those places that some might say I have over-done, but it’s one of those places I think you can come back to time after time and still discover something new.
There has been quite a few new additions to the tour since our last visit a few years ago. We were long overdue a trip, and what better time to visit than Halloween season! 🎃
Inside the Harry Potter Studio Tour
The Entrance Plaza
Here you’ll find the ticket collection, Chocolate Frog Cafe serving Milkshakes and other Harry Potter treats, The Hub Cafe (Starbucks), The Food Hall which serves more substantial meals such as burgers, hot dogs and fish & chips, and of course the main shop (where the tour ends, so save this until the end!)
The plaza is obviously also where the queue line starts to enter the tour.
The start of the tour
This is where you’ll see the pre-show and the grand reveal of the first big set! Very impressive way to start!
This is really the main part of the tour, with most of the sets, props and costumes, including the Hogwarts common rooms, Hagrid’s Hut, many of the portraits that were painted for the films, and other genuine props.
This studio at the start of the tour consists mainly of genuine sets and props from the movies.
In the later part of Studio J, and later in the tour, there are more set pieces (replicas) including the Forbidden Forest, Kings Cross Station and the station shop, Many of which were created by the same teams who built the original sets
The Backlot (outside area) and Backlot Cafe
This is home to Privet Drive, Hogwarts Bridge, and the new Professor Sprout’s Greenhouse and a small picnic area. There are also several vehicles parked up to explore, including the Night Bus and Hagrid’s motorcycle. The Backlot Cafe is also a good half-way pitstop, and a chance to try Butterbeer.
This is probably the most impressive area of the tour – home to the Creature Effects area, Diagon Alley, the art department, Gringott’s Bank, the Vaults, and the very impressive grand finale, the Hogwarts scale model, which exits through the shop back at the entrance plaza.
Harry Potter Tour Shop
Like most attractions, you exit through the gift shop, but unlike most attractions, this one is a bit special. It’s enormous, and has pretty much every bit of HP merch you can think of.
Halloween at Hogwarts – the Dark Arts Festival
Around the month of October, the studio tour celebrates the Dark Arts festival. The usual iconic film sets are present as normal, but the setting is a little spookier for Halloween, with a few Halloween additions.
The tour has a number of new halloween additions throughout, including cobwebs and several hundred pumpkins.
The Great Hall is fully decorated for Halloween with pumpkins suspended from the ceiling.
Defence against the dark arts and wand combat lessons are in full swing in the build up to Halloween at the Studio Tour – demonstrations and interactive wand activities are available to try.
The Dark Mark can be seen looming over Hogwarts and Deatheaters patrol the pathways.
Tips for visiting the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour
Having been to the Harry Potter Studios a few times now, I have a few tips for you to help you get the most out of your visit!
- Book way in advance
The tickets sell out for the tour several months in advance, and you can’t even get in to the car park without a ticket. Be sure to book your tickets and time slot as far in advance as you can to avoid disappointment.
- Consider the time of year you’d like to go
The Studio Tour gets regular makeovers depending on the season and events they have running at the time. Check the website to see if there are any events or seasonal exhibits you’d like to visit before you book. Halloween and Christmas are both fantastic.
- Be prepared for some walking!
The Harry Potter Studio Tour takes about 3 and a half hours to complete, but this can be longer or shorter depending on how much time you spend at each exhibit, and which experiences you queue for. The Studio isn’t massive, but there is a fair amount of walking around and a lot of standing – so wear some comfortable shoes!
- Be prepared for some queueing too…
There are a few ‘experiences’ inside the tour, the broom flight green screen photo op for example, which you will have to queue for if you choose to try it. There is also often a queue at the tour entrance. The queues are never more than around 30 minutes, but it is something to prepare for and be aware of before you get there.
- It isn’t really a tour…
Believe it or not, the Harry Potter Studio Tour isn’t really a tour. The first part of the experience is guided by the staff, but the rest of the experience is a self-guided, free-flow walk around the exhibits. It’s more a museum than a tour to be honest.
- It’s not a theme park either…
Unlike the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios, the Studio Tour doesn’t have any rides, and it isn’t a theme park. There are plenty of set pieces and walkthrough experiences on offer, as well as a couple of green screen photo opportunities, but rides are out of the question unfortunately! (although wouldn’t that be amazing)
- Bring your own food, or eat before / after your tour
The food served in the Backlot Cafe half-way round, and at the Food Hall in the Lobby is the same. it is very expensive and poor quality.
- Bring some spending money – the shop is brilliant
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, bring a bit of spending money for the shop – it’s enormous, and has pretty much every bit of HP merch you can think of.
- The Harry Potter Studio Tour isn’t in London
But it is in a nearby town called Watford. It is easy to get to from central London however by getting the Tube or a train out to Watford Junction station, then from there getting the free shuttle bus to the Studio Tour.
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