Growing up a major book-nerd, I loved reading Harry Potter. I dreamed of attending Hogwarts, being friends with the Weasleys, and studying with Hermione. When the movies came out I went with my family to the midnight theatre premieres. We would all wear our robes and stay up until 2:00am watching the newest movie. In March 2012 the Warner Brothers Studio Tour opened in Watford, just outside of London. As a young Canadian that already wanted to visit England, I never thought I would make it to the studios. England was too far away and the Harry Potter fandom would die down before I got the chance to visit.
Oh boy, was I wrong. January 8, 2020. The tours switch themes a couple of times throughout the year. The themes range from Slytherin and the Dark Arts around Halloween, to Hogwarts in the Snow from Christmas to the New Year. I so wanted to see Hogwarts in the snow. Somehow we got tickets (most were sold out very quickly) and were able to figure out the best way to get to the studios.
The studio tours are magical. I know that sounds so corny, but they are. The tours themselves are self-guided. You get a brief introduction at the beginning of the tour, but once you’re welcomed in the Great Hall, it’s up to you how much time you spend in each area. The very first thing you see is the Great Hall. Ours was decorated for Christmas and included costumes, a full feast on the side, and a band ready for the Yule Ball at the front of the hall.
I would have been very happy just seeing the Great Hall at that moment. The grandeur, the costumes, just being in England standing in a Harry Potter set. But there’s more, so much more. After the Great Hall you step into a huge room filled with smaller sets (like the Gryffindor bedroom), thousands of props used throughout the movies, flying cars, and everything else you can imagine! I didn’t know all of these props still existed, but they really kept everything!
Without spoiling too much for any future visitors (if I’m spoiling too much for you at any point feel free to skim the article and just look at the pictures haha!) I want to move to one of my favourite sections- outside. When you step outside you immediately see two iconic sets: 4 Privet Drive and the Knight Bus! Seeing these two beautiful, detailed sets was one of the highlights of my trip. Prisoner of Azkaban is my favourite movie and book, and I was so excited to see them. You are able to go right up close and see letters flowing everywhere in 4 Privet Drive, as well as see all the little details on the Knight bus.
This outside section also featured chess pieces from the first movie, a car you could sit in for photo-ops, and lots of excited fans! From there you can step into a little cafe that serves Butterbeer and try some for yourself. When we visited it was getting close to the end of the night, so we didn’t have time to taste it. However, Josh had tasted it before here and said it was bitter. I had tasted it at Universal Studios in Florida, USA, and remembered it being very sweet. So I guess Butterbeer is ever changing, and different locations have different recipes for it!
Without spoiling too much (so no, I won’t go section by section in this post!) one of my favourite areas has to be the Forbidden Forest. Seeing Buckbeak, Aragog, and the forest in its entirety got me so excited. There was a staff member there that would control the spiders dropping down, and she was so sweet to talk to. The staff themselves are massive Harry Potter fans, so talking to them and learning little details they’ve picked up is amazing. I told that staff member that I never thought I would be here, and that I’ve already cried, and she told me that she to had cried of happiness here!
Next up I have a little top tip for you: The Warner Brothers Studio Tour has its own 9 3/4! Yes, with the cart and bags! And the train right across! We got really nice photos at these stations, without having to wait in line at Kings Cross! Now, Kings Cross is where the book is based, so it’s also a very special place. It’s completely up to you if you’d like to get your picture at the train station, at the studios, or both!
Finally, I’ll take you to a very special section. At the very end of the tour, there is a to-scale replica of Hogwarts. When I tell you that I cried, believe me. I won’t post the picture here, because I don’t want to spoil too much. But I cried. It was beautiful. The replica is the last thing you see, and as the last visitors for the day we got many photos of just us and it.
Overall, Warner Brothers Studio Tours is completely worth visiting! The amount of detail that has been put into this tour is incredible, the staff know so many facts about the movies and books, and it really just feels like your childhood (or whatever age you were watching the movies and reading the books) come alive. The space is inclusive and exciting, and I would recommend it to any Harry Potter fan! I would go back 100 times, and will take any visitors I have to the studios. I absolutely loved my visit and can’t wait to go back one day!