The Harry Potter Studio Tour is located just outside London and is an absolute must-visit for any fan of the books and/or movies. Though it’s a bit pricy, the experience is incredible and getting to walk through the actual sets used for filming scenes in the Great Hall, Gringotts lobby, and other famous locations is – pardon the pun – magical.
I was in middle school when my mom bought the first book and despite my initial impression that a kids’ book about wizards was far beneath me, I was almost immediately hooked and have been mildly obsessed ever since. When my parents and I decided to visit London for a few days, I was ecstatic and planned to fly over a day early to make sure I had time to visit. From one Harry Potter nerd to another, this guide has all the tips and info you need to plan a visit to what’s perhaps the holy grail of Potter sites. Since the sets here were used throughout the Harry Potter film series, this is the closest you’ll get to actually stepping into the Wizarding World. Don’t miss out on it when in London!
- 1 Highlights of the Harry Potter Studio Tour
- 2 The WB Harry Potter Studio Tour shop
- 3 Food at the Harry Potter Studio Tour
- 4 Free souvenir from the WB Studio tour
- 5 Can you dress up in costume for the Harry Potter Studio Tour?
- 6 How to get to the Harry Potter Studio Tour
- 7 Harry Potter Studio Tour Audio Guide
- 8 Special events at the Harry Potter studios
- 9 Harry Potter Studio Tour hours
- 10 How much do Harry Potter Studio Tour tickets cost?
- 11 Where to buy Harry Potter studio tour tickets
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Highlights of the Harry Potter Studio Tour
Obviously the sets are the main draw here. The tour begins with a queue to get into a standing theater where the twins who played Fred and George do a safety/rules briefing. You’re then ushered into another theater – this time with seats – for a introduction to the studio tour.
The first set you get to visit is one of the best of all – the Great Hall. You get a chance to enter through the famous doors and then walk through the elaborately decorated set used for so many iconic scenes in the movies. The only downside here is that in order to clear it out for the next group exiting the theater, you’re ushered along pretty quickly. The rest of the tour is completely at your own pace, but you don’t have a lot of time here. Try to sit at the front of the second theater for the best experience and maximum time in the Great Hall.
One of the cooler parts of the set is that as you exit the Great Hall, you pass through doors on the side. If you turn around, you can see the backside of the “stone” walls lining the room and see that they’re not stone at all – they’re molded and held up on a framework of light metal. It’s a cool little bit of movie magic because it looks so real when you’re on the “show” side.
Another highlight for me was getting to see the cozy Gryffindor common room set. You don’t actually get to walk through this, but you can see the décor and imagine a roaring fire. I also liked seeing the Gryffindor bedroom and reading about how hard it was for the actors to fit into the beds in the later movies because they were built for them when they were kids and used throughout the whole series.
Along the way, you also get to see a whole host of props, costumes, and even wigs. Loads of wands are on display as is the Triwizard Cup and a golden snitch.
Some of the other memorable sets you get to see during the first part of the tour include Dumbledore’s office, the Burrow’s kitchen, Hagrid’s hut, and the dramatic dining room in Malfoy Manor. Oh, and you get to see the horrible, pink set used for Umbridge’s office.
This section also has a spot where you can take greenscreen photos and videos of yourself as a witch or wizard. We’d spent more than enough that day so we passed up the chance to ride broomsticks. I did, however, like the quick photo op by the quidditch section that allows you to magically raise the broom like you’re the starting seeker.
A walk through the Forbidden Forest takes you into the eerie set used for the scenes set there. Beware – you will encounter the gigantic spiders used in the scenes with Aragog and his family, but there is a bypass for those who’d rather pass this up.
One of the cooler things in this area was the statue demonstrating how some of the practical effects were used to aid in filming Harry’s stag patronus.
Another absolute highlight of the studio tour is Platform 9 3/4, complete with the Hogwarts Express parked along the tracks. There are several carts parked halfway through the wall so you can grab that iconic going to Hogwarts picture without waiting in the long line at the actual Kings Cross station. There are no scarf props here – or scarf throwers – though so you’ll have to bring your own and stage your own photo. If you wait in a short queue, you can also walk through some of the train cars for a peek into the compartments.
If you need a break, you’ll get a chance to take one at this point in the tour. There’s a small food area that serves meals, snacks, and – most importantly – Butterbeer. We couldn’t pass up a chance to sip some while wandering the outdoor sets, so we grabbed a couple of glasses. I don’t know if it was my imagination or if it was just designed to cater to less rabidly sugar crazy European guests, but it definitely seemed a little less sweet than the Universal Studios Butterbeer that I drank so very much of when I was there.
Outside, you’ll be able to take photos in front of the Knight Bus or hop into the famous Ford Anglia or Hagrid’s motor bike. The destroyed exterior of the Potters’ house is also there in the courtyard. You can also walk through the Privet Drive set, but sadly this was one of the things we had to skip since we were running out of time and the line was long.
My favorite thing in the outdoor area was the crooked covered bridge used for filming some of the exterior Hogwarts scenes. You can actually take a walk through it, which was surprisingly fun since the floor really was crooked.
The beginning of the second part of the tour, or the beginning of the end as I like to call it, focused on a lot of the props and special costumes used to bring the various magical creatures to life. The design and creative engineering the props teams used to make the movies really was incredible.
The biggest showpiece of the second part of the tour is the Gringotts Bank set. This was only opened to visitors in the spring of 2019, so we felt super lucky to get a chance to see it. The amount of detail in the lobby really is incredible.
Once you wander through the lobby, you can see some of the vaults. Bellatrix’s vault is recreated with Harry, Hermione, and Ron in side as the cups start to multiply. Nearby, you can see how the many, many, many cups were created.
There’s also a photo op spot where you can pose for a picture in a fake vault. Annoyingly, though it has a pedestal saying that you should set your camera on it to line up the shot just right, it’s too narrow to actually set a camera on, so I had to fumble through the rarely-used settings on my phone to get the self timer turned on.
Once you’re through the vault scenes, you get to see a pretty impressive recreation of Gringotts post-destruction, including a visit from the dragon.
The last major set you get to walk through is Diagon Alley, complete with many of the famous storefronts you’ll recognize from the books and movies. Fred and George’s store, and Ollivanders were my favorites.
The grand finale of the Harry Potter studio tour is the massive Hogwarts model that was used for most of the exterior shots in the movies. I’d seen pictures of it before, but never realized just how big it was. The scale in those shots – and mine too – just doesn’t do it justice. Because the movies started filming before the series was complete, the model artists had to recreate and add on to parts of it as details were expanded in each subsequent novel.
The WB Harry Potter Studio Tour shop
Once you finish the tour, you – of course – exit through the gift shop. There are tons of shirts, scarves, costumes, wands, and more there. You can outfit yourself from head to toe in your favorite Hogwarts house merchandise. There’s even some pricy jewelry you can browse – but there’s also some cheap costume jewelry too that’s more my speed.
I passed most of the merchandise because I already have way too much Harry Potter stuff and it’s hard for me to buy it at places like the studio tour or Universal Studios when I know I can get similar stuff for half the price at home. For my money, I’d rather shop ahead of time for a lot more affordable merchandise. Hot Topic has long been my go-to for Harry Potter merchandise, but Target, Kohls, and Amazon also have loads of products. I did, however, spring for a custom engraved keychain made to look like my Hogwarts letter.
Food at the Harry Potter Studio Tour
In addition to the food stop I mentioned in the middle of the studio tour, there is a larger quick service restaurant outside the entrance to the tour (you do still need a ticket to get in, but it’s before the official beginning) that you can snack at before or after your set tour. It serves a variety of different food court style foods, soft drinks, alcoholic beverages, and snacks. We had the pizza from it before starting our tour and it was about what you’d expect from a food court.
The real star though is the sweet shop cleverly designed to look like a giant chocolate frog box. Not only was the kiosk itself really cool, but the desserts they were selling looked fantastic as well. If you’re looking for themed food at the WB studio tour, skip the food counter and grab one of the witchy themed desserts here. Some of them were directly inspired by treats mentioned in the books, but others were just thematically decorated or named takes on regular desserts – like the Forbidden Forest gateau.
Free souvenir from the WB Studio tour
You can, of course, pay extra to get a souvenir studio book, but we were more than happy with our free Harry Potter “passports” that were given out by staff members. These little booklets have spots for stamps that are located throughout the tour with locations listed. I got all the stamps, but I did have to backtrack a couple times because I’d passed the kiosks without realizing it. It’s also worth noting that the “stamps” are actually embossing rather than an ink stamp. I didn’t realize that for the first one and it didn’t come out as well as it would’ve because I didn’t apply enough pressure for it to fully appear.
The books also contain a golden snitch scavenger hunt with clue to find them hidden in various locations throughout the studio tour. Not that you need anything else to hold your attention while you’re there – there is more to see than we could process in an afternoon – but it could be fun for kids to hunt for and it’s an extra thing to keep an eye out for.
Can you dress up in costume for the Harry Potter Studio Tour?
Most people weren’t wearing wizarding garb for our visit, but there definitely were some. I did not pack anything but a wand, but I wouldn’t have felt too awkward showing up in a robe. Costumes won’t look out of place here – and would look fantastic in the Great Hall! – but neither would plain old street clothes. I split the difference with a Gryffindor t-shirt and wand.
How to get to the Harry Potter Studio Tour
Sadly you can’t get to the Harry Potter studio tour on the Hogwarts Express, so you’ll have to arrange alternate transportation.
The Warner Bros Studio Tour London is actually located just a bit outside of the city in the suburb of Leavesden, so there is a decent amount of travel time required to get there. There’s free parking on site, so if you have a car driving will be a good option for you. You’ll need to show booking confirmation at the entry to the parking lot though. If you’re taking public transit, you can take the train to Watford Junction (listed as a 20 minute ride from Euston Station). There are buses that run every 20 minutes during opening times from Watford Junction to the studio tour for 3 pounds round trip. The bus segment is listed as approximately 15 minutes.
We opted to book a round trip bus ride through a company called Golden Tours. For £95, it included our tickets to the tour and pickup/drop off at a bus hub just across from Victoria Station. It was super convenient, but a lot more expensive. And we were limited in the amount of time we had on the tour. The service was definitely not worth the extra £50 pounds. There were some exhibits we skipped because the lines were too long and we wanted to make sure we got to see everything at the end. The bus ride took about an hour to get there and an hour and a half on the return trip thanks to rush hour traffic. There are no bathrooms on board the buses, so be sure to use one before boarding. There were no publicly available ones near the bus station we departed from in London either, so plan ahead if needed.
If I did it again, I’d just take a train from London and catch the bus from Watford Junction. It would’ve bought us some extra time at the tour and been cheaper. Because we had a scheduled pick up time, we had an awkward hour beforehand where we really didn’t have time to do anything and just kind of wandered around. We could’ve just hopped the train at that point and been at the studio tour before our scheduled coach time, and stayed a little longer/missed rush hour traffic on the way back to Victoria Station.
Harry Potter Studio Tour Audio Guide
We opted to purchase audio guides for the tour for an extra £4.95/person at the counter inside the entrance. I enjoyed the information it included, but felt that we could’ve easily done without them. There is so much signage and audio/visual material throughout the studios that the guides seemed unnecessary. If you have a whole day to explore, it would be great, but since we only had 3 hours, I had to choose between listening to the audio in a few spots or just skimming the signage to keep up with the pace we needed.
Special events at the Harry Potter studios
If you’ve got the budget for it, you can attend one of the evening special events offered at the Harry Potter studios. During the Halloween season, there is a very limited run of evenings offering a Hogwarts After Dark experience that sounds like so much fun. It includes a cocktail reception, dinner in the Great Hall (!), the studio tour complete with a lantern lit walk through the Forbidden Forest, a chance to learn wand combat from a film crew member, and a visit to a dark and spooky Diagon Alley being patrolled by Death Eaters wearing real costumes from the production. It really makes me wish I had £240 to drop on dinner.
During the Christmas season, you can attend a similar event, minus the Death Eater part. This time, the sets are all decked out for Christmas, and you can dine in the Great Hall with all the festive décor you loved from the movies. You also get to take the studio tour during the evening and have desserts at Platform 9 3/4. The night wraps up with dancing in the lobby. This event also costs £240 per person.
Of course, if you can’t spring for the Dinner in the Great Hall event, you can still enjoy the Christmas décor by buying a regular studio tour ticket during the holiday season. From mid-November through late January, several of the sets, including the Great Hall, are decorated with original Christmas props from the movies. The giant Hogwarts model is even dusted with movie-magic snow that never melts. It makes me want to come back at Christmas.
Harry Potter Studio Tour hours
Operating hours at the Harry Potter Studio Tour vary by day. Check the calendar here to see hours on the day you’re planning to visit. Tours generally start around between 9-10 am and the facility closes in the evening. It’s generally open seven days a week, but I did find some dates in November when it was closed completely.
Visiting later in the evening would be a great way to maximize your time in London since you could hit daytime museums during the day and then head out to the Warner Bros Studios when those attractions start to close.
How much do Harry Potter Studio Tour tickets cost?
2019 adult prices are £45, and are increasing to £47 for 2020. Child tickets from age 5-15 are £37 for 2019 and £38 for 2020. Tickets must be booked in advance, so be sure to select your dates ahead of time. Kids 4 and under are free.
Where to buy Harry Potter studio tour tickets
You can buy your Harry Potter studio tour tickets from the Warner Bros Studio London official website. You can also book them through third party vendors like we did. We received several offers for studio tour discounted tickets from the London Pass after we had already purchased our tickets if you’re looking for a discount – but you do have to have a London Pass to get that rate. However you choose to buy your tickets, do it as soon as possible because pre-booking is required and they can and do sell out, especially at peak tourist times.
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