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So your dreams are coming true and you’re visiting the Warner Brother’s Studio Tour in London: The Making of Harry Potter?! Congratulations! You’ve finally received your Hogwarts owl and acceptance letter. Seriously, this is what it will feel like once you step foot inside the studio. And actually, the entire experience really is magical. I’ve done a studio tour before (and loved it!) but this was beyond my imagination.
I have to tell you this tour really brought to life the stories those stories I grew up with. And any fan should make the trip if they are going to be in London. It’s worth it! Below are my tips and advice for making the most of the Harry Potter London Studio Tour along with many magical photos from my trip. Accio tips!
Book Tickets Way in Advance
And book your tickets for early in the day. I booked the first arrival time for the day! I didn’t want to choose an afternoon time and feel like I needed to rush, and I know that it will only get more crowded as the morning goes. Given that the tour is a several hour ordeal it’s also nice to take it in the morning so you still have your afternoon and evening for other London activities.
Print Your Ticket Confirmation and Bring Exact Change
Unless you want to take an Uber or rent a car for the entire trip to the studio, you’ll be taking a train to Watford Junction and from there, taking the studio provided shuttle to the studio and back. It’s 2 pounds there and 2.50 back and it’s exact change only. I certainly recommend taking the train and the bus. I was a little worried about figuring out the public transportation in London, but it’s SO easy and efficient. If you’re worried you can plan your HP Studio Trip for later in your London trip so you have a few days to acclimate yourself to the train. Or if you want to spend the additional money, you can rent a car and drive yourself or choose a tour that comes with a shuttle that picks you up. If you follow the advice below to give yourself plenty of travel time, there’s really no reason to use anything but public transportation.
In order to ride the shuttle bus you need to show proof of purchase and that is where you’ll need to have a printed copy of your confirmation receipt.
Allow Plenty of Time for Travel
The Harry Potter Studio Tour recommends arriving at least 20 minutes in advance of your ticket time. The bus from the train station runs on a regular schedule of about every 20 minutes and the bus takes about 15 minutes of travel time. Some of the travelers from my train heading to the studio actually had to wait for a second bus because it filled up with so many guests. I would budget enough time that you won’t be late if you have to wait for a second bus.
Unless you had your tickets mailed to you (unnecessary) head to the ticket booth window or one of the kiosks outside the main entrance after the bus drops you off. The kiosks had much shorter lines. Make sure you have your email confirmation ready because you’ll use a code there to print your tickets at the kiosk. Then head into the main entrance. You’ll have your bags checked and scanned as you come in. I only had my camera bag and small crossbody purse.
Given that you have a timed entrance ticket, there is no point in rushing to be first on/off the shuttle and first through the entrance line. You are not allowed to line up to enter the studio itself until your timeslot is called. When you get inside you’ll be able to visit the restrooms, a cafeteria and the gift shop so if you have extra time to kill, you’ll have plenty to keep you entertained.
Remember You’ll Be Exposed to the Elements
There is a short part of the tour where you will actually walk outside. So if the weather is bad make sure you’ve got a coat on hand for this part. There’s lot of great photo ops out here, so you’ll want to be dressed for the elements.
Triple Check That Your Camera Batteries Are Charged
If you’re bringing a DSLR make sure you charge your battery the night before and that you’ve got an SD card ready to be filled. Depending on the life of your battery, you might want to bring a spare. If you’re just planning to shoot with your phone, make sure you’re charged and have an extra portable charger handy. According to the site, the front desk does offer charging devices that you can rent for an additional cost, but I can’t tell if those will work for USB/American chargers. It’s better to be safe than sorry here so make sure you’ve got all the extra juice you need.
Sit Near the Middle In the Theater
When you start the tour you’ll end up in a room that shows a short montage clip and there are theater seats for everyone. At the end of the clip they’ll ask someone to come up front for a special surprise. If you’d like to be considered for this then by all means sit up in the front. Personally, I liked being near the center because I was in a good spot to get some photos after the surprise reveal.
When we first walked into the Great Hall it was madness. So many people everywhere and all, understandably, freaking the F out over fulfilling a lifelong dream of visiting Hogwarts. Listen to the guide, check out all the details and then take your time before rushing on to the next section. This honestly applies everywhere, but I found it especially helpful for this section. My boyfriend and I admired all the awesome details in the room and realized many people rushed on to the next section. This allowed us to get a few more photos without the entire crowd.
Think Before You Buy – or Set a Budget
At the very very end of the magical tour you walk straight into the gigantic amazing Harry Potter gift shop that has anything you could have ever wanted. All sorts of books and decor and clothing and food. You’re feeling emotional from the tour and ready to drop $100’s on HP swag. So you don’t blow your entire vacation cash in one spot, take a breather and think through your purchases before hitting the checkout line. If it’s easier, then set a dollar budget amount for yourself. You could even bring just that in cash for the tour. This way you don’t walk out with more stuff than you have room in your luggage or wallet for.
Check the Calendar for Special Events
The studio often holds regular seasonal events available to the public. While we were there they had some extra Halloween decorations (my fave!!) set up in the Great Hall and some additional activities available. The extra activities were more kid-focused. Around the holidays they also offer a dining experience inside the Great Hall. It’s costly, but if you’re a huge fan it would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Visit the website and check out the calendar before you book your tickets to see if there’s a special event that you want to plan your travel around. You might catch something even more magical than you expected.
Check out my Wizarding World of Harry Potter Universal Studios article here.
And my review of the Warner Bros. Hollywood Studio Tour (that also feature some HP props!!)
I hope my advice helps you make the most of your Harry Potter Studio Tour! Pin the image below to save to your Pinterest board for later reference.