Harry Potter Studio Tour Review – Hogwarts in the Snow – 28 January 2018
Harry Potter Studio Tour Photo Gallery
Harry Potter Studio Tour Review
We’ve arrived to the Harry Potter Studio Tour a little late to the party. Whilst the attraction opened back in March 2012, the worldwide appeal of the books and films has kept this popular tourist attraction busy. Booking for entry typically takes place months in advance with tickets not available on the door.
The Watford based studio tour is next to the working film studio where the movies were originally made. Props, sets and costumes were kept throughout the ten years it took to film all the stories, which visitors can now enjoy as part of The Making of Harry Potter.
There are two soundstages packed with familiar sights from the movie, as well as backlot with outdoor sets and the huge model of Hogwarts Castle.
But is it any good? The answer is yes. This is one of the best days out you can experience. It’s entertaining on various levels. Hardcore Potter fans will love this. Get an early studio tour and you can spend as much time as you like pouring over every last detail. Those who enjoyed the films on a less obsessive level will get as much out of it, as will those who have more of a broader interest in film making.
The entry price is negligible compared to the sheer volume and details the tour holds. There are thousands of props to see which are just as interesting as the much larger sets – currently including Dumbledore’s Office or the Forbidden Forest. Just when you think you’ve been amazed beyond belief, you step into the hall with the Hogwart’s Express, the original full sized steam train with carriages.
By the time you get to the animatronics section, it almost feels like it’s impossible to take on any new information, which is a shame. There’s loads of fascinating details about how the creatures were brought to life as well as the make up and prosthetics.
The recommended minimum amount of time to spend at the studio is 3.5 hours which feels right. We managed to do it in this time without stopping for food and keeping an eye on the clock so we didn’t miss our departing coach. But, it feels a bit shortchanged to do it at such speed. Unless you are restricted to time, it’s best to get a morning tour allowing you to spend as long as you need going around the exhibits.
We took a Peter Carol coach from Bristol to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, which included our ticket and transport. The advantage of this was being transported on a lovely coach that picked up at a stop around the corner from our home. It was driven by an equally lovely driver who was professional, well turned out and about the polar opposite of anyone who’s ever picked us up in a coach from Bristol bus station.
The only disadvantage to this was not knowing how much time to allocate to each section being on a 3.5 hour schedule from start of tour to returning for departure. I felt it was a bit more of a beat the clock game than if we had we arrived early in the day and been able to leave when we felt like it. But then the not having to take two trains and a bus from Bristol completely outweighed this minor negative point.
Our Tips For Getting the Most Out Of Your Visit to Harry Potter Studio Tour:
Go to the shop first. There are no queues in the shop early in the day. After lunch it gets really busy. You can skip this misery by buying first. There are two other shops inside the tour which you can’t return to once you’ve left. One sells creatures and the other train merchandise.
When you go into the holding room, try and get near the set of three doors at the opposite end. It’s not the end of the world if you don’t. This will then lead into a cinema. If you get your seats near the door at the opposite end again, this will get you into the Great Hall faster.
The time you spend in the Great Hall is restricted. Don’t faff and get done what you want to see. One advantage to being the last into the Great Hall is that when the doors are shut behind you, you get to take photographs of your children in front of the doors completely free of other people. Winner.
Take a packed lunch. Usually this is the one thing we won’t do, but we didn’t want to lose time queuing. This gave us a good half an hour of time that we would have probably lost otherwise.
The broomstick riding is great fun. The participant will be filmed against a green screen. You don’t have to buy the film, but you won’t be able to take photos. The prices are quite expensive for this and you will need to factor the double queue into your times. There is a queue to take part, then a queue to buy. The green screen broomstick riding film is currently £40 including two still photographs. If you aren’t buying in the gift shop it’s not a bad deal.
If you are buying Butterbeer, take the queue on the right. Stay to the right! You can pay a little extra and keep the souvenir tankard or stein. There is a place to empty and wash out. It’s definitely worth taking an empty carrier bag to bring it home though.
The first two sound stages of the tour will most likely take the most time. The back lot doesn’t take as much time because it’s three to four large sets. Getting onto the Hogwarts Express after this is another time eater. Make sure you allocate enough time to fully appreciate the final Hogwarts Castle model at the end. It’s outstanding. We timed ours perfectly by taking approximately two hours for the two sound stages and then an hour and a half from the moment we emerged into the middle cafe area.
If you have anyone in your party with a disability or additional need, then speak to the people at the information desk before you go in. They are incredibly helpful and will be able to help you make any necessary adjustments.
We left coats on the coach and wore jumpers. Once inside it veered between comfortable and a bit hot. There is a free cloakroom, but again, queuing and waiting!
If you are relying on a mobile phone for photographs, take a power bank. There are so many things to take pictures of we totally drained ours.
To see a more detailed look at the Hogwarts model castle: http://chopsybaby.com/magazine/hogwarts-castle-model-hogwarts-snow-harry-potter-studio-tour-london/
For the official website, visit: www.wbstudiotour.co.uk