To say that Helen is a fan of Harry Potter is an understatement. It was a great experience to take her to Universal for the first time 3 years ago and show her the amazing Harry Potter world there. That only fueled the fire and desire to visit the Warner Bros Studio Tour. While on a short visit to London we decided to take a trip to Watford to see for ourselves.
This is an attraction, not just us Brits flock to but people and fans from all over the world travel to experience the true magic of Harry Potter.
While we were staying in the centre of London we used the train to get around, there is the option of driving and parking is free. We decided to take the train from Euston to Watford Junction and from there a shuttle bus service takes you to the studio for £2.50 return per adult. The queue can be quite long for the bus so be prepared to wait, though the buses are frequent running times of every 15 – 20 minutes.
Tickets are always to be booked in advance and you pick a time slot. The tour is said to last 3 hours, which you may think it long but you will need it – trust me.
Once you arrive you can go to either the ticket desk or self-serve machines to print your tickets there. This was possibly the easiest part of the day as the crowds and queues were dispersed into getting inside and many taking photos before going in. Once you get your tickets you go to join the queue to go through bag check and security.
When your time slot is up you walk over to get your ticket is scanned and you wait until you get to start the tour. You can feel the excitement in the air, looking around you can see everything from Harry’s first bedroom under the stairs to quotes and photos on the wall, even all the eager fans dressed up wands at the ready.
For me, I am not a great fan of queues but who is really? At this point, after waiting for the bus and to get through security I really just wanted to get in and I think Helen was about to burst.
Once through the doors, you are welcomed to 8 screens, 4 of each side of the wall displaying the movie posters all in different languages. After watching a short video the 3 doors opened to a cinema room, once seated you sit and watch another clip. I was thankful for the sit down for 5 minutes before the screen lifted to reveal the large double doors. Safe to say me and Helen were both pretty amazed and were definitely impressed with the setup so far.
Once the doors open you are led of course into the Great Hall, this scene was made to last including real stone floor as it was to endure many scenes and wear and tear. It was quite breathtaking to see how accurate the scene was to the films. It had everything from the costumes up on the stage to the display and lay on the table for meal times.
What impressed us the most was the way they had presented the costumes, including wigs and stance. Not just on a mannequin with a dress on it but you really got the feel of the character which really made it all the more exciting.
This of course was Helen’s favourite part and was in her element looking at the costumes. She got so close I thought she was trying to get in one.
The Great Hall led onto another large room, this was full of everything you know and loved in the films and much more intricate details you may have missed. Every detail was important to the films and you can see the work that went into the props, costumes, set and more.
The sets on show ranged from Gryffindor common room, the boy’s dorm room to Hagrid’s hut. It also hosted a section to have your photo taken as a bad wizard and the chance to ride a broom through the streets of London. From photos starting at £14, it was a treasure worth taking home to remember forever. Like you could forget though right?
With there been so much to see, we hung back and took our time to work our way around the room. We tried to miss the crowds as this was the only let down to the tour as it seemed that this was the place that people took the most time and hung around the longest. The room would work better if it was bigger and had more space for people to move around.
Moving from the large room into the forbidden forest with the hand-painted trees and surprises hidden within the forest with smoke and sound effects, it felt like you were really there. The attention to detail within the scenes and making the whole tour interactive was great to see.
Our favourite part was seeing the board that was for the animal cast, seeing that most of the dogs who played Fang were rescued was great to see such care and dedication to the animals and the scene. We loved that they included a picture and what each animal’s personality was like and who was on screen the most.
Leading from the forbidden forest through into the canteen area that had an array of sandwiches, hot meals and drinks available as well as Butter Beer. This also leads outside to Privet Drive, the bridge and some other perfect picture moments.
Once lunch is over you start the tour again looking around the special effects, props and set design. There are a number of short clips to watch that is great to get a real look into how much it took to get such things as books to move and snap.
Once through you will walk into a large room with a large scale model of Hogwarts, this immediately made me say wow. It was breathtaking and amazing to see, with interactive screens showing you different parts of the film were filmed there and how.
This stunning scene was the end of the tour and rightly so as it was beautiful to see, if only it could be a real place to visit right? Check out our vlog to see more from our day.
Though I thought there was a slow start to the tour due to waiting and queuing I really enjoyed it. I was impressed with how many staff they had available at the tills and broom flying stations keeping the wait time down and people moving around from place to place. I would have liked to see more imagination and a setting within the cafe area as they have done it really well at Universal Orlando.