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Visiting the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London - the Making of Harry Potter

Warner Bros Studio Tour London

Forget London, this is the number one attraction in England!

As Tanbay and I approach our ten year anniversary, I have a confession for you guys: I have been in another relationship with someone else for almost twice as long: 

harry potter merch
The Boy Who Lived.... in my heart since I was six. 

Some might say that my obsession with Harry Potter is a little riddikulus, but when Grandma asked what I wanted for Christmas, a trip to Warner Bros. Studio Tour was top of my list. 

And of course, you can't take your fiancé to go and see your real(fakesoulmate, so I took the lovely woman who bought me all 7 Harry Potter books and took me to see each of the 8 films, a.k.a Mama Weasel:

great hall harry potter
Parents' Evening in the Great Hall
What to expect(o patrnoum)

The whole experience really was magical, from the staff being fun and polite (a rarity in the UK) to the intricate detail that could be found round every corner (even outside, where the traffic cones were shaped like sorting hats)!

Everyone has an allotted time slot and when it's your time you wait patiently in the queue to be let in (remembrall, the British love a good queue). 

Actually, if you are early/late they are pretty flexible about letting you in the queue earlier/later, we were early of course and as they weren't full up for that time slot they let us in. 

After the orderly queue, your group walks into a small room and is given a short talk about the films. 

Weasels recommend: when you walk in that room, make sure you head straight to the doors on the other side of the room on the LEFT that way you'll be in a good position for what comes next:

Next the doors open to reveal a cinema. Everyone rushes to have a good seat (thus if you're on the left you'll have the front row seats). You're treated to a dad joke ("we're about to watch all 8 films"), which I was totally down for, but then instead there's a short film featuring Daniel Radcliff, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. 

At the end of the film they walk through the doors to the Great Hall and low and behold, the screen goes up and the doors are really there!!!! 


harry potter great hall door
Knock knock! Who's there? You know... 
They then asked if anyone was having a birthday, and the lucky three that were received a cool complimentary badge (and it didn't say Support Cedric Diggory)! I kind of wished I'd lied, said it was my birthday and weaselled myself a cool badge, but you know, I must not tell lies. Maybe you should though, or maybe just go on your actual birthday... 

My jealousy soon disapparated as the doors opened and we walked inside the Great Hall!!!


harry potter studios great hall


It was just as I imagined it to be!! Except smaller. This was a theme throughout really, I expected(-o patronum) the sets to be a lot bigger, because you have to have a camera/lights/directors and everything in there, on top of the actors. 



Anyway, thus ended the guided section of the tour. We were soon shooed out of the Great Hall (the next group was coming in) and then left to our own devices. Which was great, I hate a babysat tour. 


harry potter studio london
Hanging out with my bros

The next section was slightly overwhelming, there was so much to see/read/watch/experience! We were in one of the warehouses that they actually used when filming, and it was chocker with sets, props, photos, facts... It was all great and all so detailed!  You could literally spend hours trying to soak it all in. Here are a couple of facts we learnt:

Literally everyone wears a wig in the film, like even the guys with crap hair (looking at you, Weasely twins): 

harry potter wigs
Middle left, really, you need a wig for that?? And you bottom middle.. 

All the main animals in the films (Hedwig, Fang, Crookshanks and Mrs Norris) were each played by multiple animal actors. For example there are four Crookshanks, each used for different things:


Crookshanks harry potter

Prince is totally my spirit animal 'would rather be carried than ever do any work'.

I don't want to ruin everything for you and go into too much detail, but I do have a tip or two on flying:


Flying

I looked in on the flying and it just wasn't my cup of tea:

  • It didn't look like much fun - kind of like those  rides for kids that you get outside Tesco, they don't move around a lot and you have to sit there and awkward grind.
  • The photo looked super fake, like I was expecting it to look as good as it does in the movies, but it looked really fake. I could photoshop that myself (if I had photoshop).  
  • There was a queue.

But if it's your life's ambition to sit on an awkward broom, here are some Weasel tips!:

  • As soon as you leave the Great Hall, head straight on over, you can double back and see all the sets afterwards and you won't have to wait in line
  • Look like you're having fun!! We watched three people on their brooms, 66% of which looked like they were embarrassed. The third person was really into it and waving and smiling and shit, be that third person, you're worth it!

Next stop, Platform nine and three quarters

If you think the first section is fun (you will because it is) wait until you turn the corner and see the Hogwarts Express!!!


Hogwarts Express London

This really was like I always dreamed it to be, but better. 

You can even enter the Hogwarts Express! My first thought was 'wow this really smells like a real, live, musty train' and it turns out it actually used to be a real, live, musty train, 10 points for my nose (eat your heart out Voldemort). 




They'd decked out each carriage like a year from the films, year 6 was complete with an everlasting R + L smear:


harry potter r plus l

Incidentally, did you know Lavender Brown is an anagram for 'Brand New Lover'? 

Opposite the Hogwart's Express is another one of the best things in the world: 


harry potter hogwarts london

A photo opp to show you leaving the muggle world and entering magic world!

I didn't know this was there, so that was super exciting. I've (sadly) never made it to the real one at King's Cross, but this was good enough for now.

Anyway there are three slots: two for taking a photo yourself, and one where they will lend you a tie (house of your choice) and take a PROFESSIONAL photo for you. 

No one was doing that and the poor professional woman looked really bored, I felt really sorry for her. Not sorry enough to go and pay for a photo but, you know. 

Next was the section for Butterbeer!!!

Weasel Warning: Butterbeer is rank. 

I know the real stuff isn't, but the stuff they serve at Warner Bros. Studio Tour is. Let me prove it to you:


harry potter studios butterbeer
Posing, top bit is alright, ew bottom bit is vile

BUT our friend Tara, from whereistara.com tells us that YOU CAN GET BUTTERBEER ICE CREAM!!! Definitely get one of those Weasel Squad!! Live my dream.

Despite the grossness, I'd still recommend getting a Butterbeer, do it for the Instagram photo:


butterbeer harry potter studios

And then reward yourself with the ice cream.

You can also get a (plastic) souvenir cup for an extra price, I didn't because it looked rubbish, plus our hand luggage only rule doesn't allow for rubbish souvenir cups.

After you've got over the Butterbeer taste, it's time for an even cooler part: outside!!

If you're there in winter (literally like September until June in England) you may want to bring along one of Hermione's little blue fires in a jam jar. 

Really though, the outside shouldn't take you more than 30 mins, and if you're really, really cold it can be done in 5, just quickly snap your photo of the Knight Bus: 


knight bus warner bros studios



Privet Drive:


privet drive warner bros studios

And the Weasely car:


weasely car warner bros studios

and then head on to the next bit which is inside. 

I'd been pre-warned that the outside bit was outside, so I'd brought an extra layer. The inside bits were so warm though and we were inside for so much longer than we were outside, that I regretted having my extra layer (or rather, Mama Weasel regretted her offer to carry it round). 




Jumpers aside, this inside bit after the outside bit was probably my favourite. It was another of the warehouses where they filmed and it contained layers upon layers of creature costumes, including Goblins, Merpeople, Hagrid and Dobby (RIP).  


harry potter costumes

There was also the coolest video with Warwick Davis (a.k.a Prof. Flitwick, a.k.a. Griphook, a.k.a a random Gringotts bank teller).. I learnt a lot: in some bits of the film, Hagrid is played by a rugby player in a remote control head!! That head is SO realistic!!! They showed a clip of one of the films that is rugby player and remote control head, I had no idea it wasn't Robbie Coltrane! 


Hagrid remote control head

Around the next corner Aragog was hanging from the ceiling and Buckbeak was chilling:


Buckbeak warner bros studios

Buckbeak has a bunch of feathers, ALL INPLEMENTED BY HAND. Why can't that be my job? Also, hello detail. 

Then there was Diagon Alley, it was kind of sad that you couldn't go in the shops, but I think it was important for my wallet. 


Diagon Alley warner bros studios

Then there was some of the most awesome Harry Potter artwork, I had to be held back not to steal it for my house that I don't have, but would gladly build by hand to house one of these babies:

harry potter artwork

Finally was the grand finale, which I have to be a bit Moody about and confess that I just wasn't that into: The Hogwarts castle. 

But I cheered up once I watched the screens and saw how smoothy it was incorporated into the films. 

Actually finally was the gift shop. Having a hand luggage only rule really helped me out here and stopped me buying a £30 illustrated Harry Potter book. In the end I settled for a 90p Ravenclaw postcard which I sent to my Grandmother. 



She was annoyed about it cause she thought she was in Gryfindor. Sorry Grandma, but if you go to a grammar school as a child and are part of Mensa as an adult you are a Ravenclaw, Wit beyond measure is (wo)man's greatest pleasure Grandma, deal with it. 

So there you have it, a guide to Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London, from a TRUE Harry Potter fan. Not one that got into it when the films first came out, not one that got into it because their kids are. One who has loved the Chosen One since the very beginning when he opened at the close. After all this time? ALWAYS. 


warner bros studios london
Always. 

On a lighter note, it's time for another pun: 
     
Fantastic tips and where to find them
(Do you get it? It's like Fantastic Beasts and where to find them.)


  • Book your tickets online this isn't the kind of place you can just Slytherin to on the day, you must book your tickets in advance, they don't sell them on site. 
  • Go early Tickets are every half an hour, and they let a limited amount of people in on those slots. You then have an unlimited amount of time in the place. On average people take about 3 hours in the place, but some are slower so if you want it to be less crowded, go early. 
  • Go when the kids are at school Let's face it, apart from my godmother's super smart son, kids are annoying. And boring. And they make noise and stuff. Go when they little tykes are at school. In the UK, this tends to be all the time, apart from two weeks over Christmas and Easter, one week over Halloween and late May and six weeks from the middle of July.   
  • Bring a packed lunch Dudley will back me up here, Harry Hunting makes for hungry work, and if pricey fish and chips aren't your thing, and Butterbeer won't fill you up (it won't, it's rank), bring a packed lunch and eat it in the hall half way through *extra points if you bring a Bella-Twix

I've got to say though, this was one of my only complaints about Warner Bros Studio Tour: why isn't the cafeteria organised into four long tables, with house elves running round serving us (jokes, S.P.E.W. fo lyf). Seriously though, they could have Harry Pottered (verb, pending), up the place. 



How to find Warner Bros. Studio Tour, London

I'm not being funny, but I don't think this place is in London. Because it's not. It's kind of like how they claim Stansted is in London when it's not. 

But it's still not hard to find, if you're lucky you'll be driving, or if you're even luckier you'll have someone drive you (thank you, John)!

If you're unlucky enough to be going on public transport, don't worry we've got you, use this awesome website: Rome2Rio which gives you all the options of how to get from A to B. 

If you're getting between two big cities in England, we recommend using Megabus, where the fares are super cheap (we once had a three hour journey for 50p!), and the buses are much nicer than Stagecoach, National Express or Terravision. 




Accommodation

We really recommend staying near Warner Bros. Studio Tour, because you can then spend as much time there as possible without having to worry about getting home. There are lots of options:


Hotel 

De Vere Venues Hunton Park


De Vere Venues Hunton Park is pretty much the dream, just 20 mins walk from Warner Bros Studio Tour and so quintessentially British it hurts. Booking here will put you back a fair few pennies, but if you book with Agoda you will find massive discounts and the prices are reasonable at around £70! Breakfast is included and they have a swimming pool, a golf course and beautiful English gardens. 


Premier Inn Watford

Another option that's slightly further away (30 minute walk) but almost guaranteed to be cheaper, is the Premier Inn Watford. Again book with Agoda to ensure the lowest prices. 


AirBnB

If you're looking for a homier touch, try AirBnB, they have a few good looking rooms close to Warner Bros Studio Tour. Here is a selection: AirBnBs near Harry Potter. Don't forget to use our link to get £14 off your first AirBnB stay! 


House Sitting 

House Sitting would definitely be a good complement to your visit to Warner Bros, Studio Tour. You probably won't be able to get a House Sit exactly where you want to, but it is free accommodation! Your House Sit might even come with a car you can borrow: the one we were doing actually came with a PORSCHE!!! (We didn't use it though). 

If you are new to House Sitting, don't worry, there are lots of House Sits in England, so it's a good place to get started. 

So there you have it, an ultimate guide to visiting Warner Bros Studio Tour, London, including what to expect(o patronum), where to stay and how to get there. 

If you've found this post useful, please spread the love(good) and share this page with your friends. 

Remembrall to like our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter and Instagram. For more behind the scenes stuff follow us on Snapchat! (Travelweasels). 

But for now, mischief managed


(P.S. a handful of the above links are affiliate links, this means that for every purchase made after clicking on these links, we get a portion of the profit, it's at no extra cost to you and will help fuel our Travel/Harry Potter addiction. We'll never use an affiliate link to something we don't personally use and love, because that's not cool.)

(P.P.S. I solemnly apologise for the riddikulus amount of Harry Potter puns in this post). 


Nox.



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We're Laura and Tanbay, a British/German couple who have successfully weaselled our way out of the rat-race and want you to do the same!

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