By Adam Brannon. On August 1st 2017, I was lucky enough to visit the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden, England along with my partner, mum and little sister.
For the uninitiated, the tour takes visitors through the world of Harry Potter via a journey around amazing props from the franchise’s eight blockbuster movies.
In this article, I share my experiences from the studio and help you to make the most of your visit. Naturally, a spoiler warning is in force – if you want to visit with your eyes completely closed, don’t read on.
About 30 minutes from central London, near to Watford, the Harry Potter studio tour is the perfect place for fans of J.K. Rowling’s record-breaking series as well as those with a fascination for the making of films in general.
Tickets must be pre-booked into allocated time slots, this allows people a staggered entrance meaning queues are shorter, allowing a more pleasant experience. In practice, this doesn’t work as well as it could with huge queues for many of the exhibit’s interactive displays.
Admission is priced at £39.00 for adults and £31.00 for children. If you fancy having an audio guided tour, expect to pay another £4.95 on top of that once you get inside the building. You're more than welcome to take a picnic along with you, there's plenty of places for you to stop off and eat, but I recommend booking a lunchtime (12pm) admission slot and having some food in the car-park picnic area before you enter the building.
Upon arriving, the magic starts as soon as you queue up for your allocated time slot. Memorabilia and props adorn the walls, making for a truly unique experience. Harry Potter is all about atmosphere and this tour has it in spades.
New for 2017 was the Forbidden Forest exhibition. Featuring acramantulas and the legendary Aragog, it’s a treat for any fan – though maybe not those with a nervous disposition. Also reasonably new is the Hogwarts express which is set exquisitely in a replica of Kings Cross Station from the films. These two exhibitions feature some of the tour's largest props and need to be seen to be believed.
The tour operates in a one-way system, meaning once you’ve left an area, you are unable to return to it. Make sure you take your time, there is simply so much to see and it’s more than likely you won’t view everything on your first visit – repeat visits are necessary for the biggest Potter fans out there.
Interactive displays include the fun broomstick flying. Hop on to a broom and see yourself against a variety of backdrops including the Hogwarts castle. Alternatively, have your picture taken as a ‘Wanted Wizard’. Pictures cost £14 (dropping to £7 for additional photographs) and DVDs of your flying video are £20.
The sheer abundance of props and sets featured in Leavesden is simply staggering. From Dumbledore’s office to the Gryffindor common-room and everything in between, you’ll be spoilt for choice.
Naturally, it’s thirsty work, walking around all the displays. Treat yourself to some world-renowned Butterbeer or Butterbeer ice-cream, available about half way around the building.
More surprises await in the second half, though it would be silly of me to spoil too many of them. All I will say is that the piece de resistance will leave you open-mouthed at its beauty. Everything you see at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour has been hand-crafted by some incredibly talented people.
From Buckbeak to the Whomping Willow, there’s a story behind everything you see in the films and it’s all given pride of place in a setting as magical as the films and novels it takes inspiration from. With everything exceptionally clean and the staff being engaging and polite, you won't want to leave.
Did I mention the gift shop? Prepare to spend a lot of money, it’s a hugely impressive place stocked with replica props, sweets and just about every Harry Potter-related item imaginable. You can even buy a replica version of Hermione's beautiful Yule Ball dress!
If you're looking for somewhere to stay, the Mercure at Hunton Park is just an 8 minute drive away from the studios and offers fantastic rooms at great value for money.
For more information on the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, click here.
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