I thought I would dedicate a post to one of our favorite attractions. Harry Potter wasn’t a huge part in our lives until we rewatched the movie series to prepare for a trip to Orlando in December 2015. After that, we became big fans (of the movie series as neither one of us had read the books) and decided to try out this attraction during our 3 day trip in London. In this post, I’ll talk about how to get tickets, how to arrive there, and I’ll give an overview of the studio tour itself.
Tickets can be easily bought online at https://www.wbstudiotour.co.uk with a major credit card. As shown below, simply click on the section labeled “Individual/Family Tickets” and that should guide you through the process where you select the amount of people, the date, the time, and any extras. Make sure to have ample time to pre-book, especially during the summer when slots can fill up very quickly!
Tickets for adults are £39, tickets for children are £31, and if you go as a family of four (2 adults and 2 children) then you can get a discounted package at £126 (prices as of February 2017). “Saver”ticket prices are also available on certain days that can save you a little bit of money. There are some extras that you can add onto your experience, but eh… We didn’t get them and we still had a good time. These include a digital guide (about £5) and a souvenir book (about £10). I would recommend that if you do not live in the UK, opt for the kiosk pick-up option. It is free and much less of a hassle than mail delivery! Lastly, make sure that when you purchase your tickets, that you are firmly set on the date and time that you arranged. I had to change my ticket date and was charged a fee by the Studios AND had to pay for a long-distance phone call (you cannot change your tickets online!!).
Now I’ll talk about how to get there… We were set to arrive in London at noon, had to go to our hotel, check-in and briefly unpack, then head to the Studios by 3:30 PM. We made it somehow with time to spare! Below you will notice a cut-out map of the London Tube system. London’s tube system is incredible but also can be confusing at times. To simplify it, here’s my advice: If you are coming from central London, get to EUSTON station (via tube/bus/car) then take the London Midland line to WATFORD JUNCTION. Please note that the London Midland line is NOT a tube line (), but rather is part of the National Rail system (this is the symbol). I know… it confuses me too! But once you get to Euston station, follow the signs to get to the National Rail area, find someone who works there, and ask them where you can find the London Midland line to Watford Junction and they will help you out (that’s what we had to do). You can pay for your trip via Oyster Card before you get on the train. Prices for the trip are £8.30 peak and £5.10 off-peak for adults and are discounted for children 17&under (but they need something called a Zip Oyster Photocard which I have no idea about). The trip should take about 20 minutes. More information about the Tube/National Rail can be found at https://tfl.gov.uk.
Once you arrive at Watford Junction, exit the station, look to your left, and you’ll see a bunch of bus stops gathered around. Head there and look for the bus or bus stop that has the Harry Potter logo, you can’t miss it. Once the bus arrives, make sure you have £2.50/person roundtrip to the studios and just like that, you’re on your way there!
The bus will drop you off right in front of the studios and bam! Collect your tickets, go through security, and wait for your time slot! While you wait, there is a cafeteria that is not too terribly overpriced as well as a gift shop that IS terribly overpriced. About 10-15 minutes before you’re slotted to go, get in line and the tour guides will take you in when it’s time.
The tour will start with some introductions that will give you a little background on the studios and some rules/regulations. After that, you’re free to wander. There are set pieces from all the movies which are usually accompanied by little signs detailing the background/importance. The digital guide, I’m sure, provides more information and probably gives you a more comprehensive tour experience. However, as I said, it’s not necessary and you can still have a great time without it. Some of the highlights of the tour include the dining hall, going into the house on Pivet Drive (only open occasionally), and Butter Beer!!!
Once you’re in, most of the time you will be on your own. I like this better because you can really take your time at each stop. Restrooms and a cafe (with Butterbeer) are also located once you enter, just in case you get hungry or need to do your business. The tour could take you anywhere from 1 hour up to 3-4 hours depending on how big of a fan you are and who you’re with. Lighting is very low throughout, so if you intend to take a lot of pictures, I would recommend getting a camera that handles low-light conditions well because flash will just ruin everything. Once you’re finished with the tour, you’ll be back where you started. Just walk outside, grab the next bus, and head back to London the same way you got there.
This is absolutely a great attraction for Harry Potter lovers because it really puts you behind of the scenes of all the movies. You learn about how things are made, you can interact with several of the tour stops, and at times you feel like you’re in the movie. Walking through the sets, seeing all the costumes, and learning about the special effects is definitely guaranteed to satisfy even the mildest Potterfile. It’s only a short trip away from London and I would recommend it to anyone within the area, especially if you have kids!!