A Magical Guide to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
July 31, 2020
“What house are you?” Any true Harry Potter fan immediately knows their answer to that question – and it’s an important one! A lot of Potterheads strongly identify with their house – whether it’s from their own choice, the Pottermore quiz, or even a bath bomb. (Yes, of course I did one!) In case you’re wondering, I’m a true Ravenclaw through and through. That’s why, when we were planning our Trip to London, visiting the WB studios wasn’t even an option. It was a key part of our planning! Lucky for you, that means I’ll be giving you an insider peek with this guide to the Harry Potter studio tour in London.
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE HARRY POTTER STUDIO TOUR IN LONDON IS CURRENTLY CLOSED DUE TO COVID-19.
I decided to still publish this article – on Harry’s birthday! – to share my magical experience with others while they are currently unable to do so themselves.
When the studio tour does reopen, you MUST purchase your tickets in advance. They will sell out, and quite early. You’ll need to plan ahead to determine what date and time you plan to visit. And if you’re as obsessed with Harry Potter as I am, you can easily spend an entire day exploring the sets. So I suggest starting in the morning!
How to get to the WB Studio Tour from London
Another important thing you need to know is that the WB Studio Tour is not located right in London. It’s actually about 20 miles northwest of the city. That means you’ll need to figure out a way to get there.
The best way to get to the studios is by taking the Tube from wherever you are in London to the Euston Station. Pay with your oyster card and take the train going to Watford Junction. Once you get to Watford Junction, you’ll need to board the Harry Potter bus to get to the studios. You must have prepurchased your tour tickets in order to get on the bus, and you’ll pay the £3 fee onboard.
Reverse the trip after your tour, and you’ll get back to London!
So, what is the WB Studio Tour?
It’s a Harry Potter fan’s DREAM! It starts with the history of the books and films. Then it is just full of memorabilia, sets, costumes, set notes, photographs from filming, you name it! Everything you can think of that pertains to the wizarding world of Harry Potter is there for you to enjoy. And enjoy it you will.
Want to know how they created the masks and creatures in the movies? You’ll see the behind-the-scene animation secrets. Curious how they got the objects to move in the Burrow? Keep reading! How did they get Hagrid to look SO much larger than everyone else? See my photos at his table!
Honestly, there is so much to explore at the Harry Potter Studio Tour, that you could probably go a dozen times and still not see everything. But you’ll be just as amazed every time.
How to take the tour
One of the best parts of the tour is that it is self-guided. So even though you have a designated start time, after you go through the great hall, you can wander through the sets at your own pace. And it’s a good thing! There are so many interactive exhibits and photo opps, that you’ll need the time.
But, if you want some more insider information, you can purchase an audio guide at the start of the tour. They are available in several different languages.
Lastly, there are also several guides located throughout the sets and exhibits who will give more information about the particular props or film scenes.
You’re a wizard, Harry!
Hagrid, Harry Potter & the Sorcerer’s Stone
Fun tip! There are several golden snitches hidden throughout the studio. I’ll give you a hint – the first one is at the top of the doorway as you exit the great hall. And they aren’t all easy to find! I definitely had to ask the workers where some of them were…
What to expect on the tour
Sets, props, & costumes
Nearly every set you could possibly think of from the Harry Potter universe is on the tour. The potions classroom. Dumbledore’s office. Ron & Harry’s bedroom. The Forbidden Forest. 4 Privet Drive. The Hogwarts Express. Platform 9 3/4. The Knight Bus. The Hogwarts Bridge. Diagon Alley. Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes. Hagrid’s hut. And of course, the cupboard under the stairs.
You’ll find your favorite props too. The Triwizard Cup. Wands from all your favorite wizards. Voldemort’s tombstone. The buffet from the yule ball. Luna’s lion hat. The Monster Book of Monsters. The Nimbus 2000. The Mirror of Erised.
Plus, there’s all the costumes! Everything from the house uniforms to the extravagant dresses. Dumbledore’s collection of stylish clothes. Umbridge’s obnoxiously pink wardrobe. Luna’s crazy silver dress. And – my favorite – Hermione’s dress from the yule ball. There are even some costumes from Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
A plethora of photo opps
You’ll be all set for the ‘gram when you’re finished with the studio tour! Not only can you take pictures of all of the awesome sets, props, and costumes – you can be IN a lot the scenes! Sit in Hagrid’s motorbike. Play giant chess. Run through the brick wall with your luggage at Platform 9 3/4. Sit at Hagrid’s table. Walk through the Dursleys’ house. Look into the pensieve. Get behind the wheel of the Weasleys’ enchanted car.
All of your favorite creatures from the wizarding world
Buckbeak, Dobby, goblins, Hedwig, patronuses, Merpeople, dragons, Aragog, thestrals, Fawkes, you name it! One of the best parts of the Harry Potter Studio Tour is seeing how all of these creatures were designed and brought to life.
The secrets behind the special effects
If you’re anything like me, you’re curious how they created all of the magic in the films. At the studio tour, you’ll learn so much of what went on behind-the-scenes to make it all look so real. The studio recreates the whomping willow crushing the Weasleys’ car. Interactive exhibits allow you to move Hedwig and creepy, tiny Voldemort. You can even try lifting a broom without touching it!
If you’re willing to spend a little extra money, you can get your photo taken on a broom in front of a green screen. Then you can show your friends back home that you flew in a Quidditch game! Where else can you do that besides the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London?
The last part of the tour walks you through the creative process of bringing the places from the stories to life. Drawings and miniature models of the most iconic settings line the hallway. See tiny versions of the Burrow, Shell Cottage, Three Broomsticks, and more!
Then, end your magical day with an incredibly detailed scale replica of Hogwarts and the surrounding grounds. It’s so large – and so astonishing – that it is two stories high. Make sure to take it in from every angle of the walkway that winds around the model.
Fun fact: the miniature version of the castle was used in aerial views throughout the films.
The Gift Shop
What would a Harry Potter Studio Tour be without a gift shop? Don’t worry – there’s quite a large one at the end of the exhibits! Plus a few smaller ones along the way. You can never have too much Potter gear!
The gift shop starts with a room filled with wands – of course. You can choose from the wands of dozens of different characters before getting lost in the vast expanse of a gift shop.
Where to eat at the Harry Potter Studio Tour
Don’t worry, you won’t have to eat slugs while you’re here! And nothing is cursed… as far as I know.
The first option you have for snacks is a quick-fix option. Choose from a selection of soft drinks, coffee, baked goods, and sandwiches. If you came to the studio tour hungry – you best munch on something quick before you get too far in!
Chocolate Frog Cafe
Right past the lobby to the studio tour, you’ll find the Chocolate Frog Cafe, and yes, it IS shaped like a box of chocolate frogs! Of course it’s filled with sweet treats like ice cream, milkshakes, and hot chocolate.
Have a biscuit, Potter.
Professor McGonagall, Harry Potter & the Order of the Phoenix
The Food Hall
If you’ve ever wanted to dine under the floating candles of the Great Hall, here’s your spot. They serve a selection of hot and cold meals, from breakfast to light lunch to sandwiches. There’s even a traditional English afternoon tea.
Back Lot Cafe
If you’re like me, you could spend a whole day at the studio, so you’ll get hungry along the way. Luckily, the Back Lot Cafe is located about halfway through the exhibits. Get yourself a sandwich or salad and rest your legs for a moment. And don’t forget the butterbeer ice cream!
Don’t forget the Harry Potter shop at Kings Cross Station!
In case you didn’t know, Kings Cross Station is a real place – and you can visit! while you’re there, be sure to check out the Harry Potter retail shop, it’s simply magical! There’s also a photo opp spot outside, where you can put on your wizard scarf, grab a wand, and pretend to run through Platform 9 3/4. Just keep in mind that if you don’t get there early, you’ll be waiting in a very long line!
Well muggles, what are you waiting for? Time to start daydreaming and planning your trip to Hogwarts when the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London reopens. In the meantime, I hope you’ve enjoyed all the photos and insider secrets through my virtual guide.