I’m not the biggest Harry Potter fan (if you ask me trivia’s about Harry Potter I might get about 10% of it correct kinda fan) but I’ve watched all the movies (I think I’ve watched it maybe 4 times by now) I love it enough to make a visit and hoard some souvenirs from my trip.
So how do you get there? First, let’s talk about its location. It’s not smacked right in the centre of London so you’ll need to travel a little if you happen to have your hotel right where hustle and bustle is, but it’s sure worth the visit. To give you a perspective how far it is (mind the traffic if you’re planning to drive and do plan ahead because driving in London is a pain) check my screenshot from Giroco travel planning software (map courtesy of Google maps, currently in prototype phase).
So if you’re staying in the middle of London, give yourself ample time to travel there including time to get your bearings right (if you’re anything like me and my sister <__<) and find the right bus. You’ll need to get from wherever you are to Watford Junction Train Station, from there, you are able to take a public bus or shuttle to the studio in Leavesden.
Before thinking you could just walk up to the studios to buy a ticket, you better think twice. I recommend booking your tickets online (Get your tickets here) to save you the disappointment from being turned away from sold-out tickets plus you’ll need it to board the shuttle. Busses here cost approximately 2.50 per person with return and come every 20 minutes. They are not easy to miss as they look like this:
Once you get there you’ll need to get to the ticket counter to exchange your printed tickets to one of these:
Be aware that your bags will be ransacked by security :). Just make sure you don’t bring dangerous items…such as Samsung Galaxy Note 7 xD (I’m sorry, bad joke). There are areas that photography is not allowed but otherwise you’re free to take as many photographic mementos as you like 🙂 (just don’t touch the props).
After security you should line up once again when your allocated time is up to get into the tour, if you have the digital guide, don’t forget to pick it up before joining the queue. Some items sell out quick (like Gryffindor house items <__<) so you may go to the store to pick those up before going in to avoid disappointment (I still want the scard ;___;!). After you get pass the line you’ll be brought into a room with a guide introducing the tour, the studio and some rules.
After that you’ll walk into a theatre for a short movie to start you off on your adventure (I couldn’t take any photos during the show, so I took one of how the theatre looked like).
Shortly after this, the screen will rise and you’ll enter the Great Hall. If it’s your birthday, you’ll get the privilege to open said doors. I missed this chance but my sister the lucky devil got hers but she was too embarrassed to raise her hand so I did it for her xD!
The tour is organised in a way that you’ll have about 3 hours to look around the props and read about the process of making Harry Potter as you wander from corridor to corridor. Below is a glimpse of some of the props we saw after the Great Hall. Also if you wait by Harry’s Uncle’s door, mail will come flying through the letter slot and you’ll need to catch one of the mail sent to Harry by Hogwarts.
We wandered a bit further to Platform 9 3/4. It’s where the you’ll see the train that was used with each compartment decorated to each Harry Potter movie.
You’re also able to buy some of the featured candies and sweets on the film from the Railway shop. Alternatively at the end of the tour you’ll be going out through the souvenir store anyways, so you don’t have to buy it in advance just to haul it around as there is still some more to see. After this you will be making a pitstop at the Backlot Café where you’ll have a chance to taste the Butterbeer (taste a bit like ice-cream soda) and Butterbeer Ice-cream.
After all the excitement and walking we decided to have a bite. Psst: Here’s the menu ;), it’s subject to change but at least you have an idea what they serve.
After filling our tummies we head on to the replica of Harry’s Uncle’s Home in Privet Drive and other props such as the knight bus, Potter’s corrage, Giant chess pieces and the Hogwart’s bridge (oh btw, I’ve heard that the house on Privet Drive is currently on sale although I’m not sure if it’s sold yet, if you’re interested in buying that is, 24/10/2016).
After this section you’ll be entering the creature workshop where you’ll see some of the more popular Harry Potter creatures are made.
The creature section was fascinating! So was Diagon Alley which comes right after this.
Then we wander into the architecture of the world of Harry Potter. The details and work they put into making this was immense! Below are some of the works you’ll see.
After you’ve visited the Hogwart’s castle. You’re on your last leg of the tour, where you’ll enter Olivanders and exit into the Souvenir Galore.
We got a couple of t-shirts and some chocolates. My daughter wanted the chocolate frog (the darn thing is a solid lump of chocolate!). Here’s what it looks like:
We got a Helga Hufflepuff! Although we were wishing for Albus Dumbledore but we’re not getting another frog, this one will last us until Christmas. If you do have any questions please leave me a message in the comments. I promise to get back to you. Next I’ll complete the Cadbury World Chocolate Factory tour (it’s a small write up). Until Next time!