For 15 years I have been reading the Harry Potter series, and falling more in love with the Wizarding World with each new piece of information.
I read the books at least once a year, and I have watched the films so many times that my DVD’s are badly scratched; luckily I got a new set last Christmas! Being such a huge fan, you can imagine my excitement when I found out that I could visit Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter and see the actual sets, props and costumes that were used in the films!
I first visited the Warner Bros. Studio in 2012 when the Making of Harry Potter first opened, and I visited again last weekend. Both times I have booked my ticket a few months in advance to make sure I got the exact date I wanted. I would recommend booking an early tour; that way you can make the most of your time there. I also suggest opting for the audio guide and souvenir guidebook. The audio guide definitely enhances the tour; it gives you lots of extra information from the production and design team. The souvenir guide book is a fantastic way to remember every detail of this amazing day; there is so much to see that it can be hard to remember all the details!
I found getting to the Making of Harry Potter to be a reasonably simple process. When you receive your tickets there are directions on the wallet and the website has a lot of information about the location – https://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk/plan-your-visit/getting-here. The easiest way for tourists to get to the tour is by using the underground/train system to arrive at Watford Junction, where there is a Harry Potter bus that will transport you to the studios for £2.
Inside the Studios
Once you have bought your tickets, waited patiently for the day to arrive and made your way to Leavesden, you will finally be inside the Harry Potter Studios!! After you have jumped with excitement, try to calm down and take everything in. From the moment you get off the bus there are props that were used for the films. There is so much detail that it can be difficult to absorb everything. You may need to queue before entering the first Lot but there is extra information in the entrance hall, so waiting is not a problem.
Seeing the Great Hall for the first time made me very emotional. The way you are introduced to this set is perfect and really makes you feel like you are in Hogwarts. Unfortunately you only get a limited time here as everyone enters in groups. Lot J is incredibly detailed as it contains costumes and props, so make sure to take your time here. Another benefit of choosing the audio guide is that everything is numbered so you will know exactly what you have seen and if you have missed anything. There are few different interactive opportunities in this Lot, such as flying on a broomstick and learning the movements for wand fights. A new addition to Lot J is Platform 9 ¾ and the Hogwarts Express. This was very exciting for me as it was not there on my previous visit. Make sure you have a big breakfast as there is no food or drink until the Backlot, which is between Lots J and K. Lot J took us around 3.5 hours and Lot K took around 2.5 hours (including the Backlot).
The Backlot was probably my favourite part of the tour as it was the place that I felt most part of the films. Here you will see some of the larger sets such as Privet Drive, The Hogwarts Bridge and the Knight Bus. This part of the tour is great because you can interact with the sets. You can also sample Butterbeer and Butterbeer ice cream here, which is delicious! The Backlot is your opportunity to grab lunch; there is a cafeteria where you can buy food and drinks, or eat your own packed lunch.
Lot K focuses on creatures and designs from the films. You get the chance to see how they created Goblins, Buckbeack, Dobby and much more! There is less to see in Lot K than in Lot J but it is equally as interesting; seeing the original drawings and models is mesmerising. Diagon Alley also appears in this section of the Tour and it is just incredible!
Eating at the Studios
Apart from Butterbeer, the food you can buy from the studios is not great. I think it would be a better idea to turn the cafeteria into the Three Broomsticks and have more Harry Potter inspired foods being served, but until then (one can hope), I recommend bringing your own packed lunch. Make sure to save room for some ice cream though!
I found the tickets to be excellent value for money which meant that I had no guilt about spending lots of money in the gift shop! There is a huge range of items in the shop from clothes, jewellery, games and sweets, and everything ranges in price. I had a look online before my visit, so that I had an idea of the selection. There is so much to choose from that having a look ahead of your visit means you won’t miss out on anything.
Visiting the Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studios truly is the most magical experience! The enthusiastic staff and the hard work that has gone in to making the tour really shines through. Leavesden is a must do for all Potterheads!