Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter

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Visit the studios where all eight Harry Potter movies were made, walk down Diagon Alley, drink butterbeer and step into Hogwarts

What do you do when you’ve made a hit series of eight amazing films and avid fans from all over the world are still baying for more? Take a lesson from Warner Bros, that’s what. With their special exhibition, ‘The Making of Harry Potter’, Warner has done an excellent job of keeping the Hogwarts magic alive.

For ten years, the warehouses and film lot at Leavesden, just outside Watford, were the base for the Harry Potter movie series. Apart from on-location scenes, most of the filming was done here, and as the movies came to an end, Warner Bros redeveloped and expanded the facilities to enable other productions to continue filming, while allowing enough space for The Making of Harry Potter to become a permanent exhibition.

JK Rowling’s original stories were still being published while the first films were being made, so sets, props and costumes were carefully crafted then stored away in case they would be needed in future shoots. As a result, the workshops, store rooms and film sets formed a unique collection of preserved artefacts.

The Making of Harry Potter is no ordinary tour. Any visit to warner Bros Studio Tours London includes a chance to walk into some of the most famous film sets: the Great Hall at Hogwarts, down Diagon Alley and onto Platform 9¾ (complete with the vast, original steam engine that pulled the Hogwarts Express). You can also discover more about the behind-the-scenes tech and artistry of each production – the special effects, the animatronics, and the methods by which the weird and wonderful cast were brought to life.

You can also try a flagon of butterbeer, and if you really want to splash the cash, buy yourself a wand (real magical powers not included). In addition to all of this, there are also seasonally changing exhibitions to keep things fresh for diehard fans who want to make a return visit. Check the website to see what’s on when you’re thinking of going. It’s not a cheap day out, and needless to say that hardcore Potter nuts will consider it better value than any non-believing muggles they drag along with them.

RECOMMENDED: Our guide to the 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child' play

By: Laura Lee Davies

Posted:

Venue name: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter
Contact:
Address: Studio Tour Drive
Leavesden
London
WD25 7LR
Opening hours: Open daily. Times vary seasonally. Check website for details
Transport: Rail: Watford Junction rail then shuttle bus, free parking for ticketholders
Price: £35 adults, £27 5-15s, free (ticket required) under-4s, £107 family
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LiveReviews|19
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Paula - ToT
tastemaker

I should start by saying that I work for the company that runs Harry Potter World, but that the views below are my personal views and not that of my company.  If you're a Harry Potter fan, this is an absolute must.  Even if you're not, this is an interesting insight into film-making and can still be an enjoyable day out for all the family.  PS Butter Beer wont be to everyone's taste so maybe don't buy one each until you've tried a bit!

Emma T
tastemaker

I cannot believe how much I enjoyed the Harry Potter Studio Tour. 

I ended up going by mistake really as my friend didn't want to go alone and I'm so glad I did! I'm not really the biggest Harry Potter fan, but I do like the books and movies but this experience made me appreciate it so much more. 

The tour is huge! So you 100% get your monies worth, it's really well laid out too so you don't feel like you have to fight to see everything. 

The props were my favourite as you could get close enough to see the detail that went into everything and I truly did feel like I had stepped into Hogwarts. 

The high light was Umbridge's office for me, as again the detail was outstanding and Diagon Alley just made you feel like a kid again. 

I enjoyed how there were things to do to break up the tour as well, like photo ops and the chance to drink Butterbeer! 

A magical experience that everyone will enjoy. 

Alexandra L
Tastemaker

There are no words to describe how utterly wonderful this is…except that would make for a pretty dull (not to mention short) review so here goes. Everyone will tell you what a great time you’re going to have but I’m here to say that you need to triple that anticipation – it’s a completely fantastic time you’re going to have! There is so much to look at from props to costumes to sets and so much to see from the Hogwarts Express to the Great Hall to the newly opened Forbidden Forest which is, FYI, not suitable for arachnophobiacs but you can skip it if you ask. It’s interactive with chances for you to ride a broomstick, travel on the train to Hogwarts and practice your wand skills. It’s warm & comforting peering into the Gryffindor Common Room or the boys dormitory and it’s dark & foreboding in Snape’s potions room or seeing Voldemort suspend Charity Burbage above a table.


There’s so much behind the scenes information that you just want to drink it all in and it’s this attention to detail which will extend your stay from the few hours you thought you’d be there to the six or seven hours you actually do spend there. Some of the visuals are stunning – Umbridge’s office will leave you hating cats and loathing pink all over again while the Ministry of Magic will take your breath away with its stature and grandiosity. Diagon Alley is my favourite part of the tour whilst the moment I turned a corner and saw a scale model of Hogwarts while the theme tune swelled to a crescendo around me brought tears to my eyes…I know, I know! But you go and tell me it didn’t do the same thing to you!


It’s easy to get to; an hour out of Euston Station to Watford Junction from where a shuttle bus will pick you up and drop you right at the studios. It will also send your excitement levels up another notch as your beaming face looks out at people going about their Muggle lives in the suburbs it passes through.


It’s incredible value for money. Just under £40 for a ticket might not sound like the most bargainous of days out but when you consider you can spend as long as you want there and it has literally everything the biggest super fan could want to see, it’s worth every single penny. One of my biggest tips would be to take your own lunch as the choice in the on-site cafeteria is the one thing that could be improved – this place is a mecca for kids yet they serve pretty much burgers, hot dogs & fries which seems a tad unimaginative. That said, definitely save room for Butterbeer which is beyond delicious! Creamy, sweet & fizzy, I could have drunk another straight after the first except I was already buzzing off my seat with a combination of sugar and adrenaline!


Every single member of staff is excellent. Patient & passionate, nothing is too much trouble for them and they’re an amazing source of information. Part geek, part friend, total Potter-phile, I’m pretty sure there’s nothing they can’t tell you and nothing they won’t do to make your visit better in any way they can.


If you’re any sort of Harry Potter fan, this place is a must visit pilgrimage waiting to happen. Not only does it leave you feeling full absorbed in the world JK Rowling created, you’ll leave feeling warm, fuzzy and full of exhausted, cosy satisfaction on the train home.

Yasmin B
tastemaker

An absolute must for all Harry Potter fans. This is the ultimate way to relive all of the magic you experienced through the books and then the films. My friends and I spent around 4 hours at the studios - it isn't for the faint hearted. However, with twists and turns at every corner, this experience really evokes the magic and wonder of the books. A great walk down 'memory' lane as it were, and a fantastic way to spend a day. Try to go around Christmas time, as the seasonal decor really adds to the experience. Last but not least BRING A CAMERA - there are photo opps galore here!

Sarah G
Tastemaker

Often when I write reviews I wish there was a more sophisticated way than one set of 5 stars. 


As a family of 6 who are all Harry Potter freaks we had the best time last weekend visiting the studios. It exceeded my expectations so much. The detail and care taken in making the films and the clear love of Harry Potter comes through so strongly and has made me want to watch all the films over again. Each of us had a great time - and we ranged in ages from 54 through to 10, it truly felt magical and childlike. You could spend many days there and still find things to look at. 


But there is a huge BUT, I haven't felt so fleeced for a very long time. Paying for a family of 6 is eyewatering enough but to find that the shuttle bus costing £2.50 each, photos costing £14 each, the restaurant being super expensive and don't even get me started on the shop. A lovely family day was almost spoilt when there was nothing affordable in the shop. The sweatshirts are £47! If I was starring for attitude it would get zero! 


I'd love to recommend it and to go back but given how much it set me back that is so unlikely and that is pretty sad. Warner Bros need to take a leaf out of Disney's book and treat customers with a little more respect.


That said muggles - get your broomsticks out and head on over because even after feeling like I might not eat for the rest of the month I am glad we went.

Tara P
Tastemaker

The Warner Bros. Studio Tour ranks as my all-time favourite day out in/near London. Taking you on a journey through the making of the Harry Potter films, it's not only an interesting and insightful look into the filmmaking process but an opportunity to wonder at the feat of imagination these books and films represent. If you're anything like me, you'll leave feeling so grateful that JK Rowling exists! You must book tickets in advance, so don't just rock up on the day. There's ample parking (it's also easy to access via a shuttle bus and train combo). If arriving by car I'd recommend making a HP playlist and blasting it as you drive up. The parking attendants just love that (note the heavy sarcasm). Highlights include the model of Hogwarts Castle, the Knight Bus, and getting your photo/video taken on a broomstick and in the flying ford anglia. You can try Butterbeer, but share one between your group - they're so sweet that buying one each tends to be a waste of calories and money. It's a fantastic day out for any HP fan, or anyone who's interested in the way films are made. Don't miss out!

kaz m

Who can argue with a day out in the world of Harry Potter?  One of my friends told me about the Warner Bros studio on Teepee, my new fav recommendations app. It was great for the whole family and I'd say the adults get just as much out of it as the kids (in my case, probably more!)  The tickets are pricy but on the whole it's worth it.

Chloe D

 Harry Potter was my childhood. They were the first books to capture my imagination, as they were for many in my generation. Anyone who is a Harry Potter fan (the films OR the books) should book to visit this warehouse of magic and memories. The tickets are expensive, but the experience is priceless. You get a glimpse into the workings of one of the most successful film franchises of all time, and see how the films went from page to screen through artwork, props and special effects. I went to visit during Christmas time, which was extra special with themed magical decorations making the day even more immersive and thrilling. Make the most of your day and act like a kid again: fly a broomstick, catch the night bus or sit in the Weasley's flying car.

Hollyne

It is pricey but if you are fan of Harry Potter you will love it, you feel like if you are in the movie

Naomi
Tastemaker

Not strictly in London (in fact a 40 minute overground + 20 minute bus journey out!) but otherwise this is an incredible day out! Having been a MASSIVE Harry Potter fan since the age of 7, this place is an absolute dream and a perfect representation of the magical world I grew up with. Whether you're a huge Harry fan like me or whether you just like films, the Harry Potter studio tour is 3-4 hours of non-stop interesting exhibits and experiences, with the opportunity to ride a broomstick, see everything down to the Owl-O's cereal packaging, the concept art and the chance to board the knight bus. This is absolutely incredible and leave you feeling properly enchanted! Expensive, but soooo worth it... though you need to take out a loan to purchase anything in the gift shop!

Carly-Ann Clements
Staff Writer

I, a proud Ravenclaw, love Harry Potter. Now that's out of the way, I can tell you that this tour is a must for any fan of The Boy Who Lived. Stepping into The Great Hall is quite an emotional experience, wandering down Diagon Ally will give you tingles and seeing Hogwarts will bring a tear to your eye. Seeing all of the props, costumes and sets will make you feel one step closer to the films and you'll experience real magic... movie magic but magic none the less.


That was the first time. The second time I attended, I still had fun but as it was supposed to be the Christmas experience, I was left a little disappointed. There was a Christmas tree and a little snow but that's about it. 


This is definitely something you have to do once if you enjoyed the films but I really wouldn't recommend going twice or if you do, make sure you leave it a long, long time before going back.

Corina B
Tastemaker

I recently went and as Harry Potter fan I have to say it was absolutely amazing, Seeing all the effort that went into making the movies that can be easily missed regardless of how many times you've watched them. It makes you feel like you're part of that world even if it's just for a second which is always worth it. It's not particularly cheap, but if like me you grew up with the actors and the movies then I can't thick of a better way to spend a day.

Josie
Tastemaker

I recently attended the Dark Arts special in the Harry Potter studios and it did not disappoint.  Having been before I was always keen to go back and explore how they made my favorite films of all time.  There were death eaters roaming around the main area and an incredible set from Malfoy Manor.  If you have been during the day on a normal time of  year you must visit again when the attraction is themed as they put such amazing effort to make the sets fit the theme.  


The only downside is the price of the tickets and any of the merchandise.  This needs to be for a special occasion and not something you can visit often.  


That said, each part of the experience is amazing and a must see for Harry Potter fans.  There are so many hidden secrets to learn from asking the staff too ;) 

Emma P
Staff Writer

Went here with the kids and even the 7-year-old, who's only seen two of the films, absolutely loved it. Walking through you can really appreciate the incredible attention to detail evident in the props and sets. It's a real lesson in thoroughness. This isn't just a look-but-don't-touch exhibition though and the Studio has been careful to encourage engagement through knowledgeable tour guides and interactives. Kids get a passport, which they stamp at each section and they also have to keep an eye out for the golden snitches hidden in nooks and crannies around the sets. You can get a lesson in wand knowhow, or climb aboard the Hogwarts Express on platform 9 3/4, and outside, just beyond the café, is the triple decker Knight Bus, a section of the Hogwarts suspension bridge and 4 Privet Drive. Best of all you can pretend to drive Hagrid's motorbike and the Weasley's Ford Anglia.


We also met the food prop-makers, who are sitting in Diagon Alley everyday until September. You can play guess the real/fake food game (we got it wrong most of the time) and ask them loads of questions. 

Tatiana N
Staff Writer

This was one of my christmas gift from my partner - who was not a Harry Potter fan before he meet me - and an amazing day out. I recommended it to other friends and the opinion was unanimous it is a well worth experience. 

You get to see and walk through different sets of the movie, see some of the amazing work the team has done through the years and even have some butterbeer (it's disgusting but who cares lol). Basically for a few hours you have an immersive experience in Harry Potter magical world and you get to see Hogwarts, creature effects, props, costumes, etc. 

The only reason I'm giving it 4 starts is that a month after I discover they use owls on these tours (they were not there on mine so this was unknown to me) which is just unacceptable. Even J.K.Rowling has spoke against it so hopefully they've stopped it. 

Puking Pastille

I just want to start by saying that if I could give this experience more than five stars, I would – it’s that good - and not overpriced at all when you factor in how much you get to see. I’ve been twice and still don’t feel as though I’ve seen everything! The first time I visited was a few years ago when it was all quite new, and while it was busy (it was the middle of the school holidays), it wasn’t heaving, I guess because of the timed entry.

Visited again recently to see the Hogwarts Express - awesome to see it up close - and enjoyed myself just as much as I did the first time, so would definitely recommend going! A few things to bear in mind: get an early slot if you can (did I mention there’s loads to see?!), leave plenty of time for the gift shop (it’s vast) and definitely chat to the staff there, because they’re all really friendly and really knowledgeable.

Guy Parsons
moderatorStaff Writer

Even as someone that hasn't seen many of the films, this is a pretty fascinating look at the years of work and painstaking craftmanship that go into producing the blockbuster movies we so casually enjoy. There are tons of intricate props, sets and behind the scenes stuff to geek over; if you like DVD commentaries or 'making of' things, this will definitely capture your attention.


My favourite bit was where they displayed some of the 17,000 glass spheres had been individually hand-crafted for a particular scene, with the explanation concluding "In the end, the director decided to use a digital effect instead." Those poor glassblowers!


Four stars because it is pretty expensive. Oh, also, if you think "butterbeer" might be a sort of beer-like thing, it's pretty much liquid butterscotch.