If you’re a Potterhead and find yourself in London, you need to make your way to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Leavesden. The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter (better known as the Harry Potter Studio Tour) is an interactive experience where fans can walk on the very sets where the Harry Potter movies were filmed. You get to see real costumes, props and sets from the movies. You also get to take part in some wizarding activities. It’s absolutely magical!
I’ve been on the Harry Potter Studio Tour twice now and was blown away both times. They added a lot more between my two visits (2012 and 2018) and even the stuff I had seen before was awesome to see again. Colin and I walked through with huge smiles on our faces for the entirety of our visit.
Check out everything you must see, do and experience on the Harry Potter Studio Tour, as well as some practical tips and tricks, below!
PS: SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen the movies or don’t want to be spoiled on what you’ll see on the Harry Potter Studio Tour, maybe don’t scroll on.
When you arrive at the Harry Potter Studio Tour, you drive up to a huge lot with minimal decoration. One stand out is the giant wall/fence made up of Daily Prophet headlines. Colin and I took some time to pose with these before moving indoors.
After security, your first stop is the handprints of Daniel, Emma and Rupert when they were just wee babes. As fun as it is to compare your hand size to theirs, I’d recommend a hit of hand sani after this as absolutely everyone puts their hands on it. From here, you’re walking down a long hallway to the main event. The hallway is covered in the Marauder’s Map and quotes from the movies and books.
Finally! It’s your time to start the Harry Potter Studio Tour. As you get ushered into the first room, you’ll pass Harry’s cupboard. Look out for his little figurines and a pair of his glasses!
The Great Hall
Okay, your Harry Potter Studio Tour has officially begun! You’re brought into a room where you hear some info about the day and watch Harry Potter mania unfold on a few screens. You then go into a second room, that looks like a movie theatre, to watch a short clip of Dan, Emma and Rupert introducing you to the tour.
At the end of the film, the screen rises to reveal the doors to the Great Hall. You can start freaking out now!
So back in 2012, we got to just rush through the doors at the end of the movie clip. But now in 2018, they’re a little bit more civilized. An employee welcomes you and asks any birthday girls or boys to join her in opening the doors to the Great Hall. Pro tip: Pretend it’s your birthday and open those doors!
We visited in October so the entire Great Hall was decked out with pumpkins and Halloween treats on the table. In fact, we got to experience a lot of extra spooky things thanks to our well-timed visit.
Indoor Sets Pt 1
After the Great Hall, you walk into a huge studio stage that is just absolutely filled with sets from the movies. It’s overwhelming in the best way. There’s so much to look at, so many boards to read and so many tiny details to notice. We didn’t get the audio guide, but I think if I went back, I would do it. From overhearing the guide, it sounds like there’s a lot of great behind the scenes info.
This was super cool! Throughout the Harry Potter Studio Tour there were little interactive areas. This one below was Hagrid’s Hut and the magic of optical illusions. With a few movie magic tricks, they were able to make it look like the person seated up front is a giant (Hagrid) while the person in the back is tiny.
Did you know all of the portraits on the walls of Hogwarts are based off of real members of the cast and crew?
The Mirror of Erised! Apparently my heart’s greatest desire is to share a mirror with a billion other people…
How cool is it that the inside of the Invisibility Cloak is green screen?
Okay, this is a horrible photo above but it was a very cool thing in person. As part of the Dark Arts theme, they had set up a station showing us how they made troll bogies, unicorn blood and Fang’s drool. We got to watch it being made and then play with the final product – very cool!
It blows my mind that they had nine dogs to play Fang, especially considering I don’t remember Fang being in that many scenes…
This part of the Harry Potter Studio Tour was filled with moving objects, so we got to see the Womping Willow actually hit Mr. Weasley’s car. There were also flying brooms and motorbikes!
Here’s another super fun interactive area. Think you’ve got what it takes to fly on a broom? Would Madame Hootch give you her seal of approval? Well, come on over, shout, “Up!” and see what happens!
Indoor Sets Pt 2
After checking out some of the coolest sets from the Wizarding World, we had even more to see: The Forbidden Forest and Platform 9 and 3/4. These were super cool for me because neither of these areas existed back in 2012 during my first visit.
In the Forbidden Forest, we saw centaurs, hippogriffs, patronuses and, of course, giant spiders. The spiders actually moved and came flying down from the ceiling or out of the shadows while the sky went dark and crashed with thunder and lightning. I knew it was all fake but I still got the heebie jeebies!
All aboard the Hogwarts Express! It was very cool to not only see the train and get photos going through the wall at King’s Cross Station, but to actually be able to get on the train! We walked through and saw the cabins set up as if they were in each one of the movies – including one with frosted windows (as if Dementors were visiting).
The Harry Potter Studio Tour continued outdoors. Before we headed out, we took a quick Butterbeer break. Because, why not?
Because we visited during the Dark Arts theme, we were treated to another fun surprise. Deatheaters! Deatheaters were brought out onto the bridge and we got to battle them with wands that they handed out. I’m sure this was supposed to be a fun activity for the kids but Colin and I (along with many other adults) had an absolute blast too!
Of course, we had to check out #4 Privet Drive. Back in 2012, you could only see the exterior of the house. But these days, you can walk through and see the living room where Harry received all of his Hogwarts letters.
You can also check out the Knight Bus and see the interior, but unfortunately you can’t walk through it. But seeing it is still pretty awesome.
After spending time outside, we headed back inside to see the props department. It’s insane how much works goes into the smallest of details. These are only a few shots below but this place was full of all kinds of crazy props!
Following the props, we got to see a number of these little mini model sets. It was so cool to check out how detailed these small-scale sets were. Apparently they were created so the filmmakers could get a better idea of what shots they wanted.
Welcome to Diagon Alley!
The final stop on the Harry Potter Studio Tour takes you into this room where you get to see a giant model of the Hogwarts castle. It’s the most impressive thing to see. Like everything on the tour, it’s incredibly detailed and you can watch a movie of how it was assembled. They used this model for many of the exterior shots of Hogwarts.
As you make your way into the gift shop, you pass a room full of wand boxes. Every single member of the cast and crew has their name on a box – how cool is that?
Tips & tricks for the Harry Potter Studio Tour
- Try to go at an off-peak time. If you go on a weekend or during the summer holidays, expect the place to be slammed. We went on a Friday afternoon in early October and it was still quite busy – I can’t even imagine the Harry Potter Studio Tour during the summer. I’d suggest aiming for an early morning weekday during the school year.
- Part of the tour is outside, so make sure you’re dressed for the weather. We lucked out with sun in October but you may not be so lucky.
- How do you get to the Harry Potter Studio Tour? Good question! Unfortunately, the tour isn’t actually in London. The easiest way would be to take one of the official coach buses from central London or to rent a car. But the most economical way would be to take the tube to Euston station and a train from there to Watford Junction. From Watford Junction, there’s a shuttle that goes to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It’ll cost you £2.50 return and you have to pay cash. It takes a while but it’s pretty straight forward.
- Give yourself about 90 minutes to get to the studios from central London (if you’re taking transit) and at least three hours at the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Basically, this is a full day experience!
- There are a few gift shops located throughout the tour and one massive one at the very end. You can buy everything in the gift shop at the end, instead of buying things along the way and having to hold them. I’d suggest browsing in the gift shop before your tour starts since you have time to kill. Plus, it’ll help you get even more amped for your tour! And then when you’re done the tour, you’ll know exactly which souvenirs to make a bee-line for.
- The food at the Harry Potter Studio Tour kind of sucks. We bought sandwiches there and were pretty disappointed. I don’t think you’re technically allowed to bring food in but I’d try to bring a small snack as well as eating before and after. They also serve butterbeer, which is sickeningly sweet and overpriced, but also a must-buy for most fans.
- Buy your tickets as early as possible! I bought our tickets on August 1st for our October 5th visit and already some of the time slots were sold out for that day. As soon as you know you’re visiting, book your tickets!
- Be on time! Your entrance to the Harry Potter Studio Tour is timed and you only have a certain window to enter. Plan to arrive early to give yourself time to get through security (yes, there’s security), collect your tickets, and pick your jaw up off the floor as you marvel at where you are.
Need even more Harry Potter in your life? Of course you do. While in London, there are lots of awesome Harry Potter filming locations, themed restaurants and tours you can go on. You can also see the Harry Potter play, Cursed Child. In fact, you’ll find Harry Potter activities all over the world – including Harry Potter in Melbourne!
Have you ever been to the Harry Potter Studio Tour?
What part of the Wizarding World were you or are you most excited about seeing?