I was 12 years old when Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published in Poland. Too old to get Hogwarts invitation, but young enough to have to wait a long time for another book from series to appear in the library. Now, almost 18 years later, I am still as excited about everything connected to Harry Potter world as I was after reading the first book. One of my biggest dreams was to go into Warner Bros studios for “The making of Harry Potter” display. And I did last weekend with my amazing friend.
First thing You need to do it to buy a ticket. It must be done in advance and I mean a few months in advance since the dates are just disappearing from the calendar in a blink of an eye. You can buy them here. The price for an adult (16+) is £41.00 and for a child is £33.00. I was tempted by “Complete Studio Package” that added Digital Guide and Paper Guidebook. In my opinion, it was not worth it. Digital Guide is good only when You are travelling alone and do not want to interact at all, while Paper Guidebook you will get… at the end of Your trip.
Then when You have the date You can arrange the travel and sleep. There are many different options available. For me, it was getting to London Heathrow Airport and there taking a bus 724 to Watford Junction. From Watford Junction, You have Harry Potter shuttle bus that will take You directly to Warner Bros Studio London and back. After the tour, I decided to stay in Watford for a night. I was using booking.com to find my hotel, but I think Airbnb can be a good idea as well.
The last thing was to get into the mood! Reading all the books and watching all movies are not required… But I did it anyway. Moreover, it is a fun thing to register at Pottermore and check what house You are in, what Wand should You wield and what is Your Patronus. I honestly believe this may influence in a good way the experience e.g. when You are asked for the prefered colour of the robe for the photo shooting or while admiring the wands of different famous owners 😉
Ready? Steady? Go! As I said our trip began at Watford Junction where we took the shuttle bus to Warner Bros Studios. I was worried mostly because we arrived 1 hour early and it was freezing cold. Luckily we were able to enter the venue straight away, go through security and admire a long walk with Harry Potter quotes on the wall. Those hallways took us to warm lobby with food, drink, shop and place where we were able to leave our stuff for free.
One hour was gone in the blink of an eye. The trip started with two movies – one told us the story how the idea for Harry Potter movie was born and second prepared us for what we are about to see. After the movie, the doors to Hogwarts were opened and we entered the great hall. It was amazing, though it is smaller than expected from the movies… The most impressive was torch holders carved in the shape of four house animals.
From the great hall, we entered the huge room with many different decorations from Hogwarts. There were things like Yule ball decorations and costumes, Gryffindor boys’ dormitory and common room, Dumbledore’s office and entrance, Potions classroom, Hagrid’s hut and Weasleys’ house.
From there we entered the world of film effects. Everything started with Quidditch section. There I was able to call my first broomstick!
Later we took a little tip on a broomstick – with a green screen behind us 🙂 But not everything was solved by a green screen in the movies. We admired moving things like vault doors, chamber of secrets doors or Lupin’s suitcase!
Then there was the section dedicated to Ministry of Magic with the pink office of Dolores Umbridge. Next to it was the Forbidden Forest section with animated Buckbeak, giant spiders, hidden Aragog and dog Patronus.
From there we suddenly ended up at Platform 9 and 3/4 with Hogwarts Express just waiting for us to take us to Hogwarts.
Finally, we reached… half of our tour. There we went outside to the backlot. There Knight bus was waiting for us with Privet Drive house accompanied by Hogwarts Bridge. It was strange to see those things so close together.
When we returned inside we ended up in the world of magical creatures. Two rooms filled with mandrakes, house-elfs, dragons and other creatures. The funny part was the screen where You could see Dobby the House-elf mapping Your movements. Moreover, there were many silicone prosthetic masks for werewolves, goblins and even Lord Voldemort himself.
After that came the most expected part – Diagon Alley. Hole street filled with magical shops. Even Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes was there! The only sad thing was that none of the shops was open 😦
The last section was art department. Started simple – with concept arts and paper models – but ended with a huge wow-effect. The Hogwarts castle model. It was huge with amazing details and those little lights that made us wish we could get reduced to the size of this model and just start our living there…
After the good night sleep, we decided to check what else we can see in London. We didn’t have much time so we took a train to Euston, which is 10 minutes walk from Kings Cross. Yes – the Kings Cross. In fact, it was disappointing after Warner Bros studio tour. Then from Euston, we took the underground to Waterloo.
After little sightseeing, we ended up with a glass of cider in London pub.
It was magical two days. I had very high expectations since I consider myself a huge fan of the series. Those expectations were met, but I want to warn You of three things:
A crowd – There are many people like me crazy enough to even consider returning there. So there is a lot of people in the venue and You may encounter some queues.
Money – Not only the ticket is crazy expensive. Everything in the studio is. My advice is to prepare for it. Some things are just worth it and I would be miserable if I did not have enough money.
Time – For me, the tour was 2 hours long, but I think it was mostly because my battery died, I was tired and I avoided queues. I believe I could have as well spent there 4 hours and wouldn’t get bored.