There is something absolutely magical happening at Harry Potter World UK every day, no matter what you think about special effects and wizardry.
Unlike my robe-wearing counterparts, I tend to fan-girl over Harry Potter in secret. I wish when I was younger I embraced the fandom a little bit more, but now as a thirty-year-old, I thought I had to keep it classy.
After a visit to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in London to see the originally Harry Potter movie magic, I realized there was nothing to be ashamed of. Seeing so many people from all over the world, of all ages and shapes and colors and background completely lose their minds over a book and movie, was incredible.
The Warner Bros. Studio in London has been used for Harry Potter filming and memorabilia for 10 years now. You can see the progression of props over the years, as the crew kept it just in case they needed them for subsequent movies.
Here are a few of my favorite things about the Harry Potter World UK tour and what you shouldn’t miss when you visit yourself!
How To Get To The Harry Potter World UK Tour
From South London, the journey takes roughly a couple of hours by train. From the Watford Junction station, there is a designated shuttle you can hop on. Don’t forget to bring at least five pounds cash because they only take cash on the shuttle. We had to dig around for coins to board.
Other ways to get to the studio include taking a bus that travels every hour from the center of London and back. Using the train is another option — Watford Junction is the nearest stop and may take 20 -- 60 minutes to get here depending on your location. Otherwise, if you have rented a car, the also provides free parking for visitors.
If the Harry Potter World UK Tour is the first thing you’re seeing when you land, you can come straight from any four of the airports (Heathrow, Luton, Stansted, Gatwick) via train or car.
Upon arrival, grab your tickets as quick as you can so you can get in line for the actual Harry Potter World tour. Even better, try to purchase tickets a couple of months in advance to make sure you and your group are able to visit on your desired day.
How To Get To Hogwarts
With your ticket in hand, everyone is herded into a large room in the beginning. Don’t worry about when you enter because everyone will have the same experience.
Upon entering, it was already so exciting. The energy was palpable. I loved when everyone yelled out their country of origin and which ‘house’ they belonged to. What an amazing thing to connect over! By this point, I’m already tearing up in anticipation and feeling all the love.
After the introduction to the tour in the first room, we are able to enter Hogwarts. The first room? The grand hall, just like Harry in the first movie! Fun fact: this set was one of the first to be used and built for the movies.
What’s nice is the tour leader offers some fun facts and figures about the movie franchise and its history in the first room. After the grand hall, you’re on your own to wander around at your leisure. The tour leader mentioned some people are done in 45 minutes, others take the entire day to check out every bauble and read every sign.
A few Harry Potter highlights
I don’t want to spoil the whole thing for you, but I found there was a wonderful mix of real sets, costumes, character builds and even video interviews to make everything interesting. Fans will go crazy over the massive Hogwarts gate, Gryffindor common room, and Buckbeak animatronic model, to name a few highlights. Midway there is a café serving butterbeer as well!
Want to know what it tastes like? Some people say it’s a cross between shortbread and butterscotch. I think that’s a bit of a stretch. See my reaction below:
Outside there are a couple of notable set pieces, from the houses of Privet Drive to the Knightbus. Which then leads into Diagon Alley, a monster movie-making room, and the grand conclusion. I’m mum’s the word about that one.
The day we were at the studio, word came of Alan Rickman’s passing, who played Professor Snape in all the Harry Potter films. They left the subtle announcement until the last room.
Boxes and boxes piled high in endless shelves of every color. Movie makers had everyone’s names on the boxes who worked on the film and then some. By the small black box with Alan Rickman’s name on it was a quickly made sign of the year he was born and the year he passed. After seeing his sweeping potions room, iconic black robes and movie want in subsequent rooms, it hit like a brick. The crew still did a wonderful job of keeping the magic and joy alive throughout the tour while still paying homage to an incredible man and actor.
Was it worth battling rush hour commutes to get to way north London? Absolutely.
Do I still want to enjoy the Universal Studios version of Harry Potter? Of course.
There is something wonderfully special about hearing kids in British accent argue over Horcruxes, house quidditch teams, and hidden snitches while at the studio tour in London. It’s not something I’ll soon forget.
Would you visit the Harry Potter World UK tour if you’re in London? Let us know in the comments!