Disclaimer: Before starting this post on all things Harry Potter, I just want to state that I do not support the views of “She Who Must Not Be Named” on the Trans community and that this blog is a safe space for all LGBT+. I saw a post somewhere that mentioned how Harry Potter now feels like it belongs to the fans and truthfully, I agree. Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) said it perfectly “If Harry Potter was a source of love and belonging for you, that love is infinite and there to take without judgement or question. Trans women are women.”
Harry Potter! Who knew so long down the line that we would all still be in love with the films and books as if it was the first time?! Recently, the Harry Potter series has taken another huge step in the limelight again, with people’s love for Hogwarts becoming stronger than ever. Together, with the rise of Dracotok* on my For You Page on Tiktok, my love for the series has ignited again (not that the love ever disappeared to be honest) and I decided to take a day trip over to the Warner Brother Studio Tour in London for the day to celebrate (or as I like to call it… Harry Potter Studios!)
*Dracotok is a big Slytherin fandom on Tiktok (video sharing social media) where people have fallen in love with the Malfoy’s, Slytherin House and much more. Some are roleplaying and some are creating amazing graphics and art pieces. Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) is actively involved with that side of Tiktok and often responds to fans about it.
Some Information To Know Before You Go
- Tickets must be purchased in advance, you cannot buy any “on the door”
- There is a bus that takes you to the studio tour from Watford Train Station. This is currently running on a limited schedule due to the pandemic. The bus runs roughly every 30 minutes and £3 return. Tickets to the studio tour must be shown before boarding.
- No selfie sticks or tripods are permitted, but if you’re heading there solo you’re going to have a difficult time as staff are currently not permitted to touch your cameras or phones.
- There are several places to eat at the start and midway around with quite a wide range of variety in budget and taste.
- It’s a long tour, longer than you think. You will be walking a lot. They have free manual wheelchairs to use, but they require you to call in advance. They also provide audio tours and British Sign Language tours.
- Harry Potter Studios are very equipped for the pandemic, you will find a lot of hand sanitising stations and social distancing measures in place. Masks are required all around the tour and on the bus, unless you are exempt.
- There is so much staff on duty to help you with whatever you need. Whether that’s to find out even more detail about the sets/films or assistance in finding the bathrooms.
- The mannequins which hold the actors’ costumes on, do not have any faces on them. This is because if you read the books, you may have imagined them a different way. They want to keep the magic alive, in case you didn’t picture Alan Rickman as Snape (although he was the perfect Snape to me, you get what I mean!)
- Butterbeer contains no alcohol. Sorry folks.
The Slytherin Celebration
This year, due to the pandemic, Harry Potter studios were not celebrating Halloween like they usually do, but they decided to celebrate Slytherin instead. This meant all the flags in the Great Hall were Slytherin, window displays and the restaurant next to the shop (before you go in) were all Slytherin themed too!
So What Is There To Do At The Harry Potter Studio Tour?
As you can imagine, there are quite a lot of sets from the films. Something I was worried about was it spoiling the films for me, but thankfully that is not the case. Some sets are interactive and there are also some interactive activities where you can get your photo taken. This includes riding a broom for Quidditch, Wand lessons and riding in the Hogwarts Express. You can also grab a paper passport and stamp inside every set as you go around.
I’m a Hufflepuff, so I was a bit biased towards this part of the great hall.
Turn to page Three Hundred and Ninety Four.
Each individual set has a person nearby to answer any questions you might have. As each set is so incredibly detailed, (things that you don’t even notice in the films) the staff can also assist you with any props you want to take a closer look at (and give you information on it too!)
The Magonagall painting is just on the left, with the yellow background.
Did you know? In the Gryffindor Common Room, there is a painting of who is/and was the head of Gryffindor. If you look closely, there is a young Professor Magonagall painting in the background, which changes throughout the film. They say, if there is a cat next to her, she is in human form. If the cat is missing, then she is in her Animagus form, the cat. (I found this out at the Studios!)
The studios are divided into two parts with a cafe/stopping point in the middle. The first part is all sets and mechanics from the films. Once you reach the stopping point, there is a restaurant, snack stop and a Butterbeer point. These are accompanied with any outside props, like the Knight Bus, 34 Little Whinging Drive, The Hogwarts Bridge and Godric’s Hollow house. The second part of the studios includes the makeup and costume design. As well as a life size Gringotts bank, Diagon Alley, Hogwarts and finally, the gift shop.
“Did you put your name in the goblet of fire, Harry!” Dumbledore asked
I spoke to a wonderful lady in Diagon Alley (staff), she told me that the reason why there is no Hogsmeade at the studios, is because Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley are the same! They used mechanics, changed the shop fronts and added some snow! Before the pandemic, you could actually go inside some of the shops there too. I suspect you may be able to again in the future. There is also some sugar glass left over from the Olivanders shop explosion that you can see inside the window! (They replaced this in the windows though for us)
A kind lady saw my selfie struggles and took this photo for me! Staff are not allowed to touch phones/cameras.
Is It Worth A Visit?
Absolutely! Even if you’re the smallest Harry Potter fan in the world, this place is definitely worth a visit for a day out. It took me a total of 3 hours to get there from my house (including the bus), but it was definitely worth it. They estimate it will take you around 3 hours to visit the whole studio. Not including the indecisiveness in the massive gift shop! It personally took me around 2 and a half, but I didn’t take part in any interactive things like the Quidditch broom.
The Budget Range
I purchased a “no frills” ticket, which was literally just the ticket. No audio book or guide. This cost me £47. The train ticket from my house to Watford cost me £25 return (but of course that will be different for you). I will say that the gift shop is very expensive, but there is something for every price range if you look properly! (If you have kids, I wish you the sincerest good luck. I am almost 29 and did not have any self control)
As I said above, I had no self control and I decided that I wasn’t going to return to the studios for probably a long chunk of time. So… I went a little crazy and spent too much. Here is what I got:
- Snitch keyring (for my brother) £12
- Hufflepuff Keyring (for me!) £7.95
- Butterbeer Bottle £4.95 (single, but a 4 pack is available)
- Chocolate frog (includes a Witch/Wizard card) £8.95
- Honeydukes Strawberry and White Chocolate Honeycomb £6
- Butterbeer and souvenir cup (at the rest stop) around £6
I also went into the studio tour determined to buy a Hufflepuff jumper, but as I got around to the shop, I decided £75 was simply too much. Also, the gift shop contains a Wand Shop! It’s no Olivanders but if you’re looking for your own, they will be able to help you.
“Whether you come back by page or by the big screen, Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.” – She Who Must Not Be Named
That concludes my complete guide to the Harry Potter Studios! I hope you enjoyed it. Do I think the Harry Potter Universe will ever disappear? No. Will I ever grow tired of it? Also no. The experience itself was incredible. I went there completely by myself and absorbed all of it in my own time and way. As I said earlier, I hadn’t been there in years, so about 80% of the sets and experiences there were all brand new to me. A lot of people told me I would love it and they were so right!
Have you been to the Studios before? Let me know in the comments!
*Disclaimer: Please make sure to check and follow all local travel advice before visiting.