Harry Potter Studios on the outskirts of London is a truly magical place for children and adults alike. Whether you’re a Harry Potter super-fan (or Potterhead to coin the correct term), a parent, friend or partner of someone with a Potter obsession (e.g. Matt) or even someone with an interest in the art of film-making, there is something of interest for you all. If though you’re wondering whether you might be a bit too old for a visit, wonder no longer. You’re definitely not!
Read on for my top tips on how you can make the most of your visit to the Harry Potter studios and not miss out on anything.
1.Take your time
This is an important tip. Be sure you make the most of your time at Harry Potter Studios (or ‘Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter’ to give it it’s proper name). There is so much to see and experience, so allow at the very least a few hours to soak it all in. If there’s a particular exhibit that stirs something inside you, spend time with it and study it’s every detail.
2.Speak to the curators
The curators are there to help, so if you have any questions, ask them! Some of the curators might actually surprise you with their encyclopedic Potter knowledge. For example, a gentleman we spoke to in the wand shop area told us he had worked on the actual set during filming. He had plenty of stories to share and was able to explain the origin of every character name we threw at him. Tremendous!
3.Drink Butter Beer
Yes, you too can pretend to be a regular at the Three Broomsticks Inn. A visit to Harry Potter Studios really isn’t complete without downing a glass of sweet and creamy Butter Beer. But be warned, it’s not quite to everyone’s liking, so you may want to share a small cup to start.
4.Jump on Sirius Black’s motorbike
This is a great photo opportunity! If there’s two of you, one can get on the bike while the other can get in the sidecar. There’s no official photographer, but when we were there, an unofficial queue and reciprocal photo-taking system had been set up by fellow visitors. Hopefully when you visit, things will be just as organised.
5.Get in robes and fly on a broom/magical car
Many of the world’s attractions now have official photo opportunities and Harry Potter Studios is no exception. Here you can ride a broom and/or pretend to drive in a flying Ford Anglia set against a green screen. Our tip is to simply enjoy both experiences. There’s genuinely no expectation or pressure to buy anything, unless you really want to.
6.Learn how to defend yourself against the dark arts
This guided, interactive tutorial will have you testing out your wand skills and associated moves to help ward off those pesky Death Eaters. You’ll be casting spells with a flick of your wand in no time. Don’t worry about making a fool of yourself. The only people watching will be those in the queue waiting to cast their own spells.
7.Don’t get carried away in the Gift Shop
The gift shop is full of really wonderful stuff but it is expensive, so don’t get carried away. While you’re browsing, feel free to try things on. We tried on the cloaks of our favourite houses and took pictures of each other. Staff didn’t seem to mind. If you know you’re likely to get carried away and run up a huge debt, you may want to set yourself a budget prior to going.
8.Take your time at the model of Hogwarts
The Harry Potter Studios has a huge model of Hogwarts that was actually used during filming for sweeping exterior shots. Elevated walkways allow you to see the model from all angles and heights, making for a truly breathtaking experience. The room the model is housed in constantly fades from day into night and back again, so take your time and admire this work of art in all its glory. If you’re visiting around Christmas, you’ll get an additional snowy treat.
9.Notice the fine details
Study the exhibits! Props, scenery and equipment are still daubed in scribbles and the level of care and attention that has gone into everything is quite staggering. From handwritten labels on bottles of potions, to clever and complicated animatronics; it’s all really wonderful to see it in person. One more thing – look out for the conceptual artwork adorning the walls and galleries that inspired the design and conception of scenes and aspects of the films. They’re a really lovely addition to the tour.
10.Find out what’s new
Harry Potter Studios is constantly evolving. Rare exhibits are often brought out of storage for limited periods and there are often themed exhibitions. The second time I went to the studios, there was a special Quidditch-themed exhibition. Earlier this year, a brand new ‘Forbidden Forest’ extension opened to the public, to much acclaim.
All the latest news can be found on the official ‘Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter’ website, so check it out before you visit. We have yet to visit again since they introduced the Hogwarts Express – just another reason to return!
11.Have fun in the courtyard
The outside courtyard area allows you to get a breathe of fresh air and some refreshments (including Butter Beer) before you head back inside. There’s also plenty to see and pose next to, including the Knight Bus, a wooden bridge, the exterior of Privet Drive and Sirius Black’s Motorbike (to name a few things).
12.Ultimately, have fun and channel your inner child
Harry Potter Studios is a magical experience regardless of whether you’re a Potterhead or not. Obviously, those who consider themselves mega-fans will get the most out of it, but even those with a passing interest will enjoy recognising bits and pieces that they’ve seen or heard about.
Our ultimate advice is to channel your inner child and immerse yourself in everything. Try stuff on, take photos in Diagon Alley, drink lots of Butter Beer, wave wands and shout spells at people and wander about with childlike wonder. Only by doing this will you get the most out of your visit to Harry Potter Studios.
Have you been to Harry Potter Studios? Do you have any tips to add to mine? If so, drop a comment into the box below.