Sunday, 8 October 2017

A Muggle's Magical Musings: A Guide to the WB Harry Potter Studio Tour


As a great big Potterhead since childhood, my visit to London would not be complete had I not visited the studios that brought the books to life. I have lost count of how many times I reread the books and reviewed the films and how much of my childhood (and adolescence) was spent waiting for a letter to Hogwarts so obviously visiting the Warner Bros. Studio Tour was the highlight of my trip, I am not going to lie.

If you are as big of Harry Potter fan as I am, I guarantee the visit to the studios will be the best memory of the trip. And why? Because we can see with our own eyes the magical world becoming real with all the sets, clothing and real props used in the movies! Here is a summary of my experience as well as some tips and information for someone who wants to visit:

The first step is to book your tickets online in advance through the Warner Bros. Studio Tour website. They do not sell tickets at the entrance so this step is essential. Then just print out the booking confirmation and get the tickets when you arrive there. A regular adult ticket (>16 years) costs 39£ and there are some package options with additional souvenirs and/or guides included. In my opinion, however, the standard ticket is more than enough.
You should also book the visit as early as possible because there is no time limit to be there and the sooner you arrive, the more you can enjoy with less people getting in the way! I spent almost 4 hours there and I don't think it was enough!

The studios are in the outskirts of London and the nearest train station is Watford Junction. From London Euston station you can catch the train to that station for 9.9£. There are two types of trains departing from this station which stop at Watford Junction: the Overground (the local train, which stops at all stations until it arrives there, taking between 50 minutes to 1 hour) and the Express (which has only two or three stops between the two stations and takes 20 minutes). Since we had arrived at Euston with more than enough time we chose to catch the slow train but we picked up the fast one afterwards, coming back to London.
From Watford Junction there are buses to the studios every 20 minutes and it takes about 15 minutes to get there. The ticket costs 2.5£ roundtrip and has to be paid in cash. They are big buses full of Harry Potter pictures so you absolutely can't miss them!

After we passed through security we found the closet under the stairs where Harry slept before entering a dark room with several posters of the movies. While we are queuing to get in, I recommend here asking someone for the tour passport, it's more a free souvenir! They are flexible regarding the check in time. In our case, my enthusiasm was so big that I had booked the visit for 11h30 but by 10h we were already there. We went to the queue and got in at around 10h15.
After the room with the posters we see a small movie where the actors introduce the tour. The screen goes up, we face the door to the Great Hall and this is where the experience truly begins! The studios are divided into two parts, separated by the Backlot where you can eat, experience the so famous Butterbeer and see Privet Drive, Knight Bus and more! Personally, I did not think the taste of the drink was that good but I ended up buying just to try it and it comes with a souvenir cup if you want to (but you have to pay more for that, of course). I advise you to take food instead of buying it because of the confusion, time lost waiting in line and the money you save that can later be used in the final souvenir shop!

Here are some of my highlights of this first part because I can not express it by words and the pictures are worth more than words:





The second part is made up of special effects, the Diagon Alley and Harry Potter Art Work. Here the highlights are definitely the Diagon Alley and the giant Hogwarts model at the end of the visit:



The tour ends up with a visit at the souvenir shop and guys, the strugle is real. It was very hard not to spend all the pounds we had brought and my whole bank account there! The trick has to be coming up with a certain budget and not exceeding it. Because, let's face it, even though that store is the biggest dream of any Potterhead, it's all pretty expensive! I ended up buying a necklace with a snitch (and I didn't go over the budget).

I may have never gotten my Hogwarts letter but I sure have been to Hogwarts! In short: one of the best days of my life!

* Mischief Managed *
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