Planning a visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London? My top tips will help you make the most of your visit, and show you how to get there!
Our house is full of Harry Potter fans, so the Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour in London has been on our wish list for many years. I attempted to book it on several occasions but never managed to get tickets available during school holidays. However, when the new Irish bank holiday – St Brigid’s Day, came along, myself and my daughter Alex took off to London for the night to see what we had been missing!
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I was so excited to finally find tickets available, that I booked them without thinking about the best way to get there. It was only when I started researching our visit that I realised that the Harry Potter Studio Tour is quite a distance from central London, and that tickets are on sale from many suppliers, and not just on the Warner Bros website – we need not have left it so long to visit after all!
I picked up many tips on how to get to Harry Potter Studios during my research, and lots more when I actually made the trip from central London. I have listed these tips below, as well some advice on how to make the most of your visit to the Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour.
What to expect at the Harry Potter Studio Tour London
Despite hearing countless stories about how great the Harry Potter Studio Tour was, I didn’t really know what to expect. I knew it wasn’t a theme park, but I wasn’t prepared for the sheer size and variety of exhibits on show.
The Warner Bros Studio Tour is a unique experience that showcases original sets, props and costumes from the 8 Harry Potter movies, as well as featuring animatronic creatures, visual and special effect areas, and interactive activities such as Green Screen experiences.
You will through the Great Hall and Diagon Alley in the footsteps of Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, step onto the Hogwarts Express, see Harry’s bed in the Gryffindor dorm room, as well as finding out how those acceptance letters flew out of the letterbox in Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone…
I absolutely loved the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, and never expected to get the same wow factor during the Harry Potter Studio Tour, but I did. There were countless goosebump moments and our jaws dropped many times, in fact I believe for avid Harry Potter fans, the Harry Potter Studio Tour is even more fascinating than the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
1. Book tickets for the Harry Potter Studio Tour well in advance
Tickets for the Making of Harry Potter Studio Tour go on sale almost a year in advance – Christmas holiday dates are on sale already! It is best to book as early as possible, at least a few months in advance, especially if you are planning on visiting at weekends or during school holidays.
Watch out for themed events throughout the year. The main attractions and exhibits will remain the same but you may see snow over Hogwarts at Christmas time, or pumpkins at Halloween – see more here.
Top Tip: Tickets are changeable for £10, so it is best to book a time in advance, you can always alter the date at a later stage.
2. Don’t panic if tickets are sold out – tour companies have an allocation of tickets
If you need to go at a specific time and tickets are sold out on the Warner Bros Studio Tour website, don’t panic! Tour companies such as Attraction Tickets, Viator, and GetYourGuide are given an allocation of tickets with bus transportation to and from the Studios from various locations in London.
These are more expensive, but take the hassle out of getting there. The Harry Potter Studio Tour is over an hour from central London so having the bus transportation included is a massive bonus. These tickets offer good value if combining your visit with a short break in London.
3. Think twice about bringing toddlers
Children aged 4 and under can visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour for free – although they do require a ticket to enter. While this may be easier on your wallet, you may want to think about whether it is best to bring toddlers at all.
Everywhere is buggy / wheelchair friendly so if your child is happy to stay in a buggy then that will certainly help, however, most of the tour is walking and you could be there for five or six hours. It is not a theme park, and many of the exhibits are not interactive.
4. Allow at least 5 hours to visit the Harry Potter studio tour
The Warner Bros Studio Tour London website states that the ‘average visit lasts approximately three and a half hours’, however, we spent five hours at the Harry Potter studio tour and could have easily spent longer.
We didn’t watch many of the videos or read the information beside each exhibit – if we did I think we would have needed ten hours there! Suffice to say it is impossible to see everything in one visit, and certainly not in three and a half hours. I usually spend a lot less than the ‘average time’ at a museum or tour, but not in this case.
I suggest getting there at least 30 minutes before your allotted time. You will want to take photos outside and there is plenty to see in the lobby before the tour starts. A dramatic Gringotts Ukrainian Ironbelly dragon hangs from the ceiling, and the Chocolate Frog Cafe has a huge Marauder’s Map on the wall, as well as tasty themed chocolate treats to get the tour off to a nice start.
We visited on a quiet Monday in February and did not experience any queues. However, I’m told that during school holidays there can be queues to get into Harry Potter Studios, as well as queues for the Green Screen experience, café, toilets and shops – this could add additional time to your visit.
5. Do your research so you don’t miss anything!
Almost all of the tour is self-guided, so make sure to do some research before you go – you don’t want to miss the top attractions on the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Watch the movies again, read blogs, watch videos on the top things to see at Harry Potter Studios and make a list so you don’t miss anything.
You will naturally pass through Diagon Alley, Platform 9¾ and Gringotts, but there are plenty of exhibits that could easily be missed in the main room, such as Professor Dumbledore’s Office and the Potions ClassRoom. Don’t miss the demonstrations where the staff explain the differences between special and visual effects, and show how certain tricks were carried out.
6. Pick up an Activity Passport and Audio Guide
At the start of the tour you will be offered a complimentary Activity Passport – if you miss this, just ask one of the staff and they will get one for you. There are 7 Golden Snitches hidden throughout the tour, and you can get your passport stamped once you find them. The passport not only acts as a nice souvenir to bring home, but also ensures you don’t miss any key areas.
You can also purchase an audio guide which has facts about the sets, props and costumes that are showcased on the tour. We purchased one but were so overwhelmed by the amount of things to see on the Harry Potter studio tour that we didn’t use it!
The Harry Potter Fan Club app is another way to enhance your visit. You can unlock secrets, videos, quizzes with Enchanted Keys that can be found in the app. Once you scan an Enchanted Key you’ll be rewarded with an exclusive piece of content related to the area of the Studio Tour you’re in.
7. Take your time in the Great Hall
The tour starts with two short videos before entering the Great Hall. You will initially be part of a large group, but once the presentation is over you will be asked to move into the next room. Once you leave the Great Hall the rest of the tour is self-guided.
I suggest waiting until everyone has left the Great Hall, so you can see it without the crowds and get some good photos too. The rest of the tour can be explored at your leisure, but once you leave the Great Hall you can’t go back to it.
8. Take time out at the Backlot Café
The Backlot Café is situated at the half-way point, and believe me you will need the rest! It serves typical fast-food fare as well as sandwiches, vegan and vegetarian options, and last but not least, butterbeer – it costs £6.95 including a souvenir tankard.
9. Bring a powerbank and a jacket
Unlike many tours of this nature, you are encouraged to take photos and videos throughout the tour – apart from a couple of exceptions at the beginning of the tour and at the green screen area. You will be constantly snapping and taking videos so a power bank is essential.
The cloakroom is free to use, but if travelling during the winter time you may wish to keep your jacket with you, or at least bring a sweater, as approximately 30 minutes of the tour is outdoors.
10. Get Green Screen photos and souvenirs at the end of the tour
The Green Screen experiences are part and parcel of the tour, where you can ride a broomstick over London and Hogwarts, or be filmed inside one of the carriages on the Hogwarts Express. There are two different experiences, one in the main room at the beginning of the tour, and one at Platform 9¾.
There are various packages available to purchase, including photos, videos or a combination of both. A souvenir shop is also located at Platform 9¾, but there are many more shops at the end of the tour.
Top Tip: Wait until the end of the tour to purchase souvenirs, videos and photos. As well as a large shopping area, there is additional kiosk at the end of the tour where you can purchase your videos and photos – this will save you carrying bags around with you for the rest of the tour.
How to get to the Harry Potter Studio Tour?
The Harry Potter Studio Tour is located outside of London in Leavesden, near Watford. If you are driving, put postcode WD25 7LR into Google Maps or your SatNav, and parking is free.
Assuming you are not driving, the best way to get to the Harry Potter Studio tour from London is by taking a train from Euston Station to Watford Junction and hopping on one the FREE Warner Bros Studios Tour shuttle buses which run every 10-30 minutes and are parked outside the train station. The last bus leaves Harry Potter studios when the tour closes.
There are regular daily trains from Euston to Watford Junction, but watch out as some are direct (15 mins ), while others take 40 minutes with many stops along the way – we found out the hard way!
Note there are two stations in Watford – it is Watford Junction you need. It should be easy to get to Euston Station if you are staying in London by using the Underground.
Top Tip: Purchase a Visitor Oyster card before you go.
A Visitor Oyster Card is a smartcard which you can pre-load with credit (from £10 – £50) and use it like a pay as you go card. The credit never expires and if you run out of credit on your card, it’s easy to top it up and use it again. Each person (over 11) needs a separate Oyster Card.
It is valid on bus, Tube, tram, DLR, London Overground, Elizabeth line, River Bus and most National Rail services in London – including the Euston to Watford Junction service, and children under 11 travel free when accompanied by a fare-paying adult. If you are travelling with a child aged 11 – 15, you need to buy them a separate Oyster Card before you leave home, and when you arrive in London, you can ask a member of staff at tube or rail stations to add a Young Visitor discount.
Oyster cards have daily capping so you can travel as much as you like on any given day – prices vary depending on zones used. You can’t buy these in London, you need to order it online and it will be posted to your home address. Buy here.
Other ways to get to Harry Potter Studios
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Buses are also available from Victoria and Kings Cross station, although these are expensive – £45 return at the time of posting. If you do wish to take the bus – the pre-purchased tickets with transportation offer better value – see tip 2 above.
Day trips to Harry Potter studios London are also a popular choice. Luton is the closest airport (17 miles) followed by Heathrow (23 miles) and taxis are readily available.
Top Tip: The cloakroom is free of charge at Harry Potter Studios and they will happily store your luggage for you. We visited London for a short break and booked the Harry Potter studio tour on our last day. We checked out of our hotel, left our luggage in the cloakroom and spent the day at the studios before flying home that evening. Taxi cost from the studios to Luton airport was £40.
I hope my Harry Potter Studio Tour travel guide will help you plan a trip there soon. Looking for more things to do in London with kids, check out this post:
While every effort is made to ensure accuracy, facilities and attractions are subject to change. Note some of the links in this post contain affiliate links, where I receive a small commission if a booking is made, but at no additional cost to you.