Have you ever wished you could head behind-the-scenes of the Harry Potter film series? Now you can! Get an inside look at the Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio London.
I had really been avoiding writing about our tour of Warner Bros. Studio London because how could I possibly put into words the sheer excitement and awe I felt while touring the Making of Harry Potter. I’m going to be completely honest with you, I am a die-hard Harry Potter fan and touring Warner Bros. Studio was really the only reason I wanted to go to London and let me tell you, it did not disappoint! I want to give a thorough enough look inside of the Making of Harry Potter for those that may never get to see it in person, but I don’t want to give everything away because it’s no fun to spoil all the surprises. One important detail to remember, everything you see in the pictures below are the real costumes, props, and sets that were used in the filming of Harry Potter (so cool!). Okay, I think that’s enough of an introduction, let the tour begin!
We left London about two hours before the start time for our studio tour and made our way to Watford Junction, outside of London, by taking the Underground and the National Rail. After stepping off the train in Watford Junction, we excitedly joined the line outside of the station for the shuttle that would take us to Warner Bros. Studio London. The bus pulls up and I could already feel the butterflies in my stomach, the outside of the bus was decorated in Harry Potter graphics and as we made the drive to the studio, they played a short video about Warner Bros. Studio to get you excited (like I needed to be more excited). After about 15 minutes, we arrived and anxiously stepped off the bus and there we were! The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio London! I had been anxiously awaiting this day for months and I had goosebumps I was so excited. It was surreal to finally be there since I’m such a huge Harry Potter fan.
We got our (pre-purchased) tickets from a machine outside and then headed inside… more chills and goosebumps. There were pictures of the cast all around the room and they were playing the Harry Potter theme music… commence freak out moment!
I had the biggest smile on my face as we checked our coats at the storage desk, picked up our digital guides and eagerly joined the long line waiting to start the studio tour. Fortunately, the line moves pretty quickly and as you’re waiting in line you get see the first of many sets on the tour, Harry’s cupboard under the stairs.
Once we got to the front of the line, they guided a bunch of us into a room where they showed clips of the cast, movies, and the journey of making the movies which got me even more excited and a little teary because this series is just so fantastic. Next, we moved to another room which was set up like a cinema where we grabbed a seat and watched more clips from all eight movies on a big screen. After the short film, the screen rises and BEHOLD! The front doors to Hogwarts (*gasp, scream*)! Everyone hurried toward the closed doors and a studio employee chose a child near the front to help him open the doors (I’m thinking: why can’t he choose me to help him open the doors?! … oh yeah, because I’m 23 and not 12, haha).
PRO TIP: Try to sit in the front row of the cinema room so you are one of the first to enter the Great Hall. This will help you get some pictures without a ton of people blocking the view.
Anyway, the doors open and we got to walk through the front doors just like Harry, Ron, and Hermione did (so cool!). Next thing I knew we were standing in the entrance to the Great Hall (ahh!).
They had two of the tables set up on either side of the Great Hall which were decorated with plates and silverware, ready for a feast.
We meandered toward the front of the Great Hall and saw the professors’ table with several of the professors (as dummies) standing at the front wearing the actual robes they wore during filming.
The self-guided tour started after we exited the Great Hall. There are numbered stations throughout the studio that explain more about the props, sets, and costumes. If you don’t pay extra for a digital guide you can still read the posted information at each station, but the digital guide goes into way more detail and includes fun facts and behind-the-scenes tidbits. If you’re a huge Harry Potter fan, I highly recommend the digital guide we were so glad we had ours.
After leaving the Great Hall, we tuned into our digital guides and began making our way through the studio. We got to see so much from the films starting with the decorations from the Yule Ball, various wigs and costumes the cast wore, and the Hogwarts gate.
Next came several of my favorite sets including the Gryffindor boys’ dormitory, the Gryffindor common room and the Headmaster’s office.
It seemed like every turn had a new surprise. One minute we were in the Headmaster’s office and the next we were in the Potions classroom.
We got to peek inside Hagrid’s hut and take a trip to the Burrow to see the Weasley family.
There was such a diverse number of sets on display including the scene with Lord Voldemort and the Death Eaters at Malfoy Manor (poor Professor Charity Burbage), the entrance to the Ministry of Magic, and the evil Dolores Umbridge’s office.
The first section of the tour had so many of the props from the films including the Quidditch game balls and uniforms, numerous school rules from Umbridge’s time as headmaster, and much, much more (this section of the tour was huge!).
The second section of the tour transports you to Platform 9 3/4! I finally got to push my luggage trolley through the wall to Platform 9 3/4. The platform had the original Hogwarts Express that was used during filming and you could climb aboard and look inside the different compartments which were each decorated in different scenes from the films (which was awesome!).
After checking out Platform 9 3/4 for a while, we made our way to the next section of the tour, the studio backlot restaurant and outdoor sets. From Platform 9 3/4 we entered the restaurant where you can purchase meals, snacks, drinks, and of course the famous butterbeer. We eagerly got in line to try the butterbeer and being the sucker that I am, we paid extra for a souvenir cup (of course). The butterbeer was really good and tasted like cream soda (or so I’m told… I don’t drink soda so I had nothing to compare it to).
After enjoying our butterbeer and the lovely weather, we resumed our tour with the backlot outdoor sets. The first thing I noticed when we stepped into the backlot was the huge purple Knight Bus staring at us. We quickly joined the couple of other people waiting to climb aboard the Knight Bus. I bet you didn’t know they had to add a lot of weight to the bottom of the bus to keep it from tipping over because of the extra levels they added to the top (just one of the many interesting tidbits you learn with a digital guide).
After climbing aboard the Knight Bus, we moved on to check out number four, Privet Drive. We patiently waited our turn to walk up to the Dursleys’ front door and knock (or in my case, ding dong ditch the Dursleys… they deserve it).
Moving around the backlot, we got to walk across the Hogwarts bridge, reflect on the horrible acts committed at the Potters’ cottage in Godric’s Hollow, and climb inside the Weasleys’ flying car.
We stood next to the larger than life chess pieces from the first film and fortunately none of them tried to attack us.
After getting our fill of the sunshine and the sets in the backlot, we moved on to the next section of the tour, the creature effects department. Giants and house elves and dragons, oh my! This section of the tour had over 200 mythical creatures from all 8 films. We got to see everything from the goblins to hippogriffs to Hagrid and Dobby.
Moving on from the mythical creatures led us into the arts and graphics section which had a bunch of the artwork from the films. We also got to see miniature set diagrams for a lot of the different sets, buildings and scenes from the films.
After passing by all the artwork and set diagrams, we emerged in Diagon Alley! Yes, the real Diagon Alley (*gasp*). We started at the end with Gringotts Wizarding Bank and made our way past Ollivanders, Flourish and Blotts and many more to end at Weasleys’ Wizarding Wheezes. It was so neat to be able to walk down Diagon Alley and look inside the different shop windows. I could almost imagine I was there to buy all my school supplies to head off to another year at Hogwarts (if only I was still eleven).
Nearing the end of the tour, we came to (in my opinion) the best part. We rounded the corner out of Diagon Alley and my jaw dropped to the floor when I laid eyes on the scale model of Hogwarts castle. IT. WAS. INCREDIBLE! The model of the castle and grounds was truly a masterpiece. Every little detail was so precise down to the tiny door hinges. It was amazing to get to see Hogwarts in its entirety and from all angles. This is the model used in the films for exterior shots of the castle.
I was a little worried that the studio tour would ruin the magic of the movies for me, but it really didn’t. If anything, it makes watching the movies even better because now when I see them in the Great Hall or the Headmaster’s office I can say “I stood right there too!” Pretty cool, huh?
The only thing that was a tiny bit disappointing was officially knowing that a life-sized Hogwarts castle doesn’t exist somewhere since they use the model for the castle shots. Even though the practical side of me knew the castle wasn’t real, the kid side still hoped, but no worries because Hogwarts will always be real in my heart.
After standing in awe of the Hogwarts castle for a long time, we moved along and the tour ended in a room filled to the top with wand boxes. Each box had the name of someone who helped create the films. It was unreal to see just how many people it took to create this incredible film series.
After admiring all the names and secretly wishing my name was on a wand box too, we handed in our digital guides and emerged in the only logical ending to a studio tour – the gift shop. I’m slightly (but yet, not really) embarrassed to say we spent more money in the gift shop than we spent to go on the tour, but hey, what can ya do?
Being able to tour the Making of Harry Potter at Warner Bros. Studio London was definitely the highlight of our Europe trip earlier this year (at least for me). I was like a kid in a candy store, nothing could wipe the smile off my face. Getting to see the actual sets, props, and costumes used during filming was incredible and made me an even bigger Harry Potter fan than I already was (if that’s even possible). It was such a remarkable experience and one I’ll never forget. If you’re a Harry Potter fan and you are ever headed to London, I highly recommend the studio tour. It’s well worth the time and money for a lifetime of memories and some bragging rights for when you get home. I had so much fun writing this post and reliving my experience, but I encourage all those who can to experience the studio tour for yourself because I only showed you a small portion of what is on display. You can find out more about the tour experience and tickets on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour website.
If you’ve taken the studio tour, what was your experience like? If you haven’t, would the Harry Potter studio tour make it on your bucket list? Leave your thoughts and any questions you have about the tour in the comments below!