We love the Wizarding World & today we share our tips and experience at visiting the making of Harry Potter in Watford, London.
What is The Making of Harry Potter?
The Making of Harry Potter is a studio tour at Warner Brothers Studio, in Watford, England. This was where the Harry Potter movies were filmed and you can find many of the original sets and props throughout this tour. This is a self-guided tour that takes you through some of the most famous sets from the movies including The Great Hall, Gringotts, Diagon Alley, and Privet Drive.
Warner Brothers Studio Opening Times:
During the summer months, tours begin at 9 am and the final tour entrance is at 6.30 pm. The Studio tour closes at 10 pm and the last bus to the train station is at this time as well. In quieter months, the first tour begins at 10 am. Before you visit this extravagant location, it might be wise to take the quiz and find out which Hogwarts house you’d be in!
Getting to Warner Brothers Studio, Watford
There are a few different ways to travel to Warner Brothers Studio.
Train: Most will take the train to Watford Junction from London Euston, with the train ride taking 20 minutes. From Watford Junction, you can catch the free Warner Bros Studio Tour Bus that runs between the station and the studio. This runs every 30 minutes from 9.20 am until closing.
Drive: The tour is located 20 miles northwest of London and You can choose to drive by traveling via the M25 or the M1 and then the A41 from London. The Studi Tour offers free parking and makes sure you have your ticket confirmation ready to show the car parking team on arrival. There is also priority parking available for £10 and this needs to be pre-booked online before your visit.
Bus: Golden Tours has partnered with the studio to offer return transfer ticket packages, ideal for those visiting London on vacation. You can take a bus from London Kings Cross or London Victoria and the tour includes the bus and entrance.
The Making of Harry Potter address:
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
Studio Tour Drive
How to get tickets for Warner Brothers studio?
Tickets can be purchased online and they must be booked in advance. We highly recommend you book tickets in advance as this is a popular tour and can get booked up quickly.
Types of tickets:
- Studio Tour: £49.95 (adults), £39.95 (child)
- Groups: Discounts are available for groups of 10 or more.
- Deluxe Tour: £225 includes a two-hour guided tour, green screen photograph and broomstick flight video, butter beet and souvenir guidebook and priority parking.
- Ticket and Hotel Package: From £65, you can book a package deal that includes your studio ticket and a stay at a nearby hotel as well as breakfast.
Where to eat at Warner Brothers Studio Tour
There are a few places to eat and drink in the Studio Tour.
Before the Tour: In the entrance lobby, you can visit the Chocolate Frog Cafe which serves ice creams and sweet treats, The Hub Cafe which serves Starbuck drinks and some bakery items and The foOD hall, which serves a range of hot and cold dishes, sandwiches and a selection of drinks.
During the tour:
Halfway through the Studio tour, there is the Backlot Cafe and a large seating area for those that want to sit and enjoy a quick bite to eat. Here you can find hot meals, snacks, and Sandwiches as well as Butterbeer; a non-alcoholic drink from the movies and books themselves (tasting like shortbread and butterscotch).
Need to know before you go
- The tour lasts around 3 and a half hours so plan plenty of time for this studio tour.
- Tickets MUST be purchased in advance and we highly recommend you book in advance to avoid disappointment.
- Keep an eye on events throughout the year. We love visiting between November to January because the sets are covered in Christmas Decorations and the Hogwarts model is covered in Snow. They also have a Dark Arts special for Halloween and other themes throughout the year.
- There is a cloakroom available and this is free to use.
- There are shops around the studio tour, with the biggest being right at the end of the tour. There are also two smaller shops near the Forbidden Forest and on Platform 9 3/4. These shops will have some items that are unique to this area so if you see something you like, pick it up here; they may not have it in the store at the end.
- If possible, we recommend you book the earliest tour possible. We booked 9am and arrived late at 9.30am but still didn’t have to wait for too long to enter. When we finished the tour at 12.30pm, the queue for the entrance was incredibly long and the wait was 45+ minutes.
Our experience of the Harry Potter Studio Tour
On arrival, the first thing you will do is collect your tickets from little kiosk machines. Once you collect your tickets outside the venue, you then queue up for security to enter the studio. Once inside, you have the option to queue for the tour straight away, use the restroom or cloakroom or stop for something to eat or drink in one of the three cafes in the lobby area. We chose to queue and begin the tour.
We queued up, listening to the various Potter Soundtracks, walked past the cupboard under the stairs and within 10 minutes we were being led into another room full of thin screens. Here, a guide talked us through the journey of how Harry Potter was chosen to be a film and its growth as a franchise since then.
Next, we headed into a cinema room and watched a video reflecting on all 8 movies with behind-the-scenes footage from the films. At the end of the video, you see Harry, Hermione and Ron head through the Great Hall doors before the screen lifts up and reveals the real Great Hall doors – queue for Katie to spring from her seat and rush to stand at the front. And so began the tour.
The Great Hall is the first set you walk onto, made with stone floors and decorated with Christmas trees and decorations during our visit. The costumes of the Hogwarts teachers are lined up across the front and props are displayed on the tables. The guide talks you through the creation of the hall and refers to some of the famous scenes based in the hall. You have around 10 minutes in the Great Hall before you are moved on for the next group to enter.
Some costumes and props follow this section, with the ‘ice’ sculpture from the Yule Ball and the incredible dessert props on display. You can also see some of the costumes and wigs are worn by various cast members – who knew that wasn’t Bellatrix Lestrange’s real hair!? We also spotted the moving staircase along with many a portrait and the ‘rules’ from Professor Umbridge’s reign.
The Gryffindor boy’s dormitory was the next set we came across, with props reflecting each character’s personality along with a few Christmas cards. There are loads of sculptures, models, and smaller sets dotted around this first soundstage, showing what was used for establishing shots and settings. For example, that long corridor that appeared to get smaller in the Prisoner of Azkaban movie when he ends up at The Leaky Cauldron? Or the giant swinging pendulum that can be seen on the outside of the castle in many different shots throughout the movies. Or the Phoenix sculpture that transforms into a staircase to Dumbledore’s Office.
Other sets on this soundstage include the Gryffindor Common Room with the costumes of the main trio from the third movie and again, more Christmas decorations. One thing that stood out for me was the impeccable detail of all the sets.
Dumbledore’s Office can also be explored as well as the Potion Classroom complete with self-stirring cauldrons and hundreds of handwritten labeled potion bottles. Hagrid’s Hut can also be photographed and there is some information on the different animals used throughout the filming.
There is a Green Screen section where you can pay extra for a film of you flying a broomstick around the exterior of Hogwarts but we gave it a miss on this tour as the queues were already pretty long. You can also see the Weasley Living Room from the Bungalow as it is in the Chamber of Secrets movie. Wave your hand over different pillars across the front of the set and you can see self-washing plates, a self-ironing iron, and a self-knitting scarf.
The next area showed the first scene from the last movie, with Voldemort killing a Hogwarts Professor above a long table under the watchful eyes of his Death Eaters. The detailing of the woman is haunting and there was something so sad about the blank expression of the Snape mannequin. The fireplaces and interior decor from the Ministry of Magic are displayed, as is the sign for the Borgin and Burke shop found in Knockturn Alley. Dolores Umbridge’s office looks spectacularly pink too.
We continued the tour to another room that was not there on our first trip in 2012. We were greeted with the spectacular sight of the Hogwarts Express in all its glory. There is a section for you to get your “pushing the luggage through Platform 9 ¾” picture and you can walk onto the train itself and see the carriages, made up as they were in the different movies.
By this stage, we had been exploring for nearly two hours so took the opportunity to stop for a Butterbeer with a souvenir tankard. A normal plastic cup was £3.95 or the souvenir drink was £6.95 so we opted for the latter. Food was also available at the ‘Backlot Cafe’.
Thankfully it had stopped raining as we headed outside to some of the outdoor sets. I, of course, got my obligatory shot outside No.4 Privet Drive and marveled at how tall the Knight Bus was! An additional set on our visit was Godric’s Hollow, the home of the Potter family before Voldemort’s attack. In this outdoor section, we also photographed the Hogwarts Bridge, seen predominately in the later films. You can normally walk down the bridge but it was too wet on our visit so they had closed it to visitors, but this did give us a better shot for our video. The huge chess pieces from The Philosopher Stone (or Sorcerer’s Stone) were dotted around the outside of The Lot as were the blue flying car and Hagrid’s motorbike.
Next, we headed into another sound stage and were greeted by the costume, makeup and special effect sections. Here, actor Warwick Davis is shown on a large TV, explaining how the artistic designers spent hours creating prosthetic masks, and electronic creatures, and months in the design studio, creating the magical beasts and characters we see in Harry Potter.
The next part of the tour gave you the chance to walk down Diagon Alley and see popular shops and buildings like Gringotts, Ollivanders, Flourish and Botts, and Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes; complete with moving window displays. I will be honest, on our first visit to Warner Brothers in 2012, this was my favorite section of the tour but after visiting the Diagon Alley in Orlando’s Universal Studios, I was a bit sad I couldn’t walk into each of the shops like you can in America. However, knowing this was the original set did make it enchanting!
The final part of the tour really is the ‘grand finale. An enormous, enchanting model of Hogwarts itself; is used in the movies with a green screen for establishing shots of the school. Just wow! Because we visited at Christmas, Hogwarts was covered in snow. Couple this with the beautiful John William’s soundtrack from the movies and you feel true like you are in the World of Harry Potter. As odd as it sounds, it is kind of moving in a weird, childlike, “I want to be a wizard” kinda way.
Lastly came the gift shop!
The gift shop sells everything you could possibly imagine, with so many different t-shirts, robes and wands available – they could barely fit in the store. You have your typical magnets, pens, notebooks etc and I couldn’t resist picking up some Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans and a Chocolate Frog (both for a whopping £7.95 each!). Of course, the gift shop is expensive but that being said, it was a busy, bustling place with lots of purchases going on.