Our trip to London was filled with many highlights and adventures, and one of the most memorable experience was touring Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. Both of my children are big Harry Potter fans and have read the books many times and seen all the movies. Their passion for the stories was why we visited The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studio in Osaka last summer. Ready for some magic, potions, and spells? Let’s go.
Just a reminder, this is by no means a comprehensive London travel guide. This London travel guide is written for those who might go to England one day and want ideas on what you can see and do based on my own experience.
The guide will be shared over 6 posts:
- Day 1 – Places you can go by utilizing the London Pass
- Day 2 – Places you can go by utilizing the London Pass
- Day 3 – Museums (Free!)
- Day 4 – Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
- Day 5 – Windsor, Bath, and Stonehenge
- Day 6 – Different parts of London, London eats, Tips, and Accommodation
London Travel Guide – Day 4
When my family took our trip to London, it was hastily planned because we were occupied with projects right before the trip and didn’t have any time to plan. We were actually doing research on the train ride from Heathrow Airport to London when Mr. JOC discovered Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. The good news, kids were super excited to find out about the studio tour. The bad news, tickets are sold out for the next 3 weeks. Through persistence and a bit of luck, Mr. JOC was able to buy our tickets through Golden Tours.
If you plan on visiting, remember to buy the tickets at least 3-4 weeks ahead of your visit to save yourself the stress.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
The package we purchase from Golden Tours included transportation from London, and the return transportation back to Lodon departs the studio 3 ½ hour later. The tickets and tours are in sold 30 min increments so it doesn’t get too crowded. I would actually recommend buying the tour tickets and find your own transportation to and from the studio as 3 ½ wasn’t quite enough for us.
To set the right expectation, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London is nothing like the Universal Studios theme parks. This is the actual studio where all the Harry Potter movies were made, letting visitors experience the behind the scene movie magic.
The transportation to the studio by Golden Tours was a double-decker bus decorated with scenes from the studio.
The studio is located about 20 miles from central London, takes roughly 1 – 1½ hour by car/bus each way. If you are arranging your own transportation keep the required commute duration in mind as each ticket has specified studio entry time on them.
When you enter the lobby and get in line, the room is surrounded by posters of the familiar characters.
There are set decorations and props hanging from the ceiling and in windows.
As we wait in the line and listened to the instructions from the workers at the studio, we got to see Harry’s tiny room underneath the staircase. Poor fellow!
After waiting in line, they let in a certain number of visitors into a room with tv screens, the screens played welcome messages from the actors in the movies and they spoke of the significance of the studio where they spent almost a decade of their lives.
I don’t want to talk about this part in case you visit, all I can say is it’s really really cool (goosebump moment).
The first part of the tour takes visitors through the Great Hall. The tour is self-guided and like many other tourist locations in the UK, you can rent a digital guide to enhance your experience.
At the end of the Great Hall, you see the costumes for many of the Hogwart instructors and students.
Crystal Palace which was used as a prop during the annual ball.
A model of the Great Hall.
Sorry to disappoint you, some of the food you see in the movie are fake. Sure looks delicious right?
Harry and Lord Voldemort costumes.
The floating moving stair case from Hogwarts.
Harry’s dorm room.
The collection of wands from characters in the movie.
The gargoyle statue inside the Griffin Stairwell (in the movie there is a secret staircase that is revealed to go to Dumbledore’s office).
Dumbledore – Headmaster’s office.
The attention to details is amazing for all of the props used in the movies.
Professor Snape and the Potions Classroom.
The various paintings used in the movies.
Hagrid’s hut! It’s nice to see the inside since the Universal Studios only has the exterior.
The studio is not too commercialized, as you walk around the studio they don’t have gifts and souvenir shops every 10 steps trying to get visitors to buy more merchandise. One of the few souvenir visitors can purchase is video or photos of them flying on the broomstick through different scenes in the movie.
There are several sections of the studio dedicated to the special effects used in the movie, it’s so cool to see how the scenes were shot.
The props used in the movie varied in size, many of them were large ornate doors created specifically for the scene.
More props used in the various Harry Potter movies.
The scene of Nagini (the snake) at the Malfoy Manor.
The new Forbidden Forest attraction opened shortly before we visited London. The creatures inside the attractions move as though they are alive.
My daughter getting ready to attend Hogwarts.
Remember those scenes where the train seems to be moving? The windows are digital images and you can also purchase a souvenir video of yourself in the carriage going through different scenes.
The carriage where Harry and Ron shot some of their scenes.
Part of the tour will take visitors to the back lot. There are large props out there as well as Harry’s childhood home. I think this is London’s only triple decker bus.
Remember that scene with the flying letters in Harry’s home?
As part of the tour you get to walk through Harry’s home.
After the back lot, the next section focuses on animatronic. There s a video playing that explains all the technology that goes into making the creatures move.
Yes, even Hagrid face is powered by a robot at times.
Time to walk through Diagon Alley!
The model for Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
The life size Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
Potage’s Cauldron Shop.
Ollivanders – the wand shop.
Even though visitors are not allowed to go through any of the stores, it was so cool just walking through the entire alley.
3D models of building and storyboards for the Harry Potter movies.
There are many paper models of the buildings used in the movie, can you imagine how meticulous the artist was when putting these masterpieces together?
The last part of the tour ends with a 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts that will take your breath away. It is a gigantic model with lights rotating from night to day every few minutes so you can see how the day and night scenes are filmed using this model.
This model took over 80 artists to create. There is a time-lapse video of how it was built over time.
We had so much fun at Warner Bros. Studio: The Making of Harry Potter. It far exceeded our expectation. What stood out to us is that the tour not overly commercialized and stayed true to the art and technology behind the movies. Even though it’ll take almost a day to get there and tour the facility, I highly recommend it.
ENJOY LONDON TRAVEL GUIDE?
Check out my travel posts on Japan, Taiwan, and the US! Sign up for the FREE Just One Cookbook newsletter delivered to your inbox! And stay in touch on Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, and Instagram for all the latest updates.