Butterbeer, Diagon Alley, Dumbledore’s office… Attending the London Harry Potter Studio Tour at Warner Bros is an experience for every aspiring muggle!
Any true Harry Potter fan waiting for the underground has stared at a Charing Cross Station platform and thought… Where is it?… Could I do it?
Platform 9 ¾.
We believe in the magical world of Harry Potter. Whether it’s through reading the novels and/or seeing the films, we love the story of the most famous orphan with supernatural powers and know he exists somewhere.
Since we aren’t actually going to try to run through a wall at Charing Cross (I hope), we have two realistic options for a glimpse in to his world: the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London or the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studio’s Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando.
This year I visited both.
Foremost, the London tour tickets must be booked and purchased in advance. The studio’s webpage is fairly simple. From the available options, you select the day and time you want to attend. If you are planning on touring in the summer months, I suggest you book weeks in advance. (For non-Londoners, the studio is no where near Central London, so check out a map and consider transportation before you plan your day.)
The tour claims to be three hours in duration, but that’s not necessarily the case.
First, you MUST arrive early, because the staff will begin the tour’s queue 10-15 minutes prior to its start time. As you wait, you will see the infamous “cupboard under the stairs.”
Much like attractions at Universal Studios, once the doors open, you are herded with the tour group in to a large room while you hear an energetic employee deliver a speech. Next, you move with the crowd in to a cinema and see a short film.
After the movie, you pass through the giant doors in to the Great Hall and feel the immense excitement of what it could be like to attend Hogwarts. This is the last time you are with a structured group.
Next, you move at your own pace through the Big Room to view the costumes, sets and props, which are displayed like museum exhibits and have signs detailing their relevance to the film.
When you are ready, you can enjoy some fresh air in the Backlot while you sip butterbeer and view a replica of Harry’s house. (Note: no matter what you hear, there’s no alcohol in the beer!)
For the second part of the tour, you see the fascinating Creature Shop which displays animatronics used in the films.
As you venture in to Diagon Alley, you’ll be impressed with the color and creative displays but shocked because it’s been dramatically reconstructed several times for the many films. Therefore it’s a bit small, especially in comparison to what Universal Studios features.
The Art Department is intriguing, but the most breathtaking experience is seeing the Model Room as you end your tour.
Well, that’s actually not the last stop. To keep up with the marketing “spirit” of modern day theme parks, you are dumped in to the gift shop as your last location.
Throughout my journey, I tried to absorb every detail and finished in a little over two hours. Even though I have worked in the film industry and know many of the “behind the scenes” secrets and tricks, I developed an even stronger appreciation for the masterful JK Rowling and the film’s production crew/cast. It’s an experience any fan would value at least once, but you’ll have to read my post on Harry Potter’s Wizarding World in Orlando to see how the two experiences compare!
I’d love to hear about your comments about the London Harry Potter Studio Tour or try to answer questions you might have if you are planning to go. Please leave them below. For questions to ask yourself to determine if the Warner Bros Studio Tour is worth it, watch this…
And, if you’re looking for more Harry Potter Things to Do in London, this video below is for you.