CONTRIBUTED BY KARI MARTINDALE
Have a Harry Potter fan or two in the house and thinking about visiting the studios during a trip to London? We visited in May and found it to be worth the price of admission (£31.00 per adult, £23.50 per child, £93.00 for family of 2 adults and 2 children). You must order your tickets in advance—you cannot show up and purchase tickets at the studio; while placing your order, you must specify the time and date of your visit.
I purchased our tickets online, then printed them out at an automated ticket machine in front of the studios upon arrival. For one of the adult tickets, I chose the “complete studio tour package,” which cost £40.95. It came with the paperback souvenir guide and the rental of a digital guide. The souvenir guide is a sturdy soft-cover book filled with images and information from the studio tour. The digital guide was both helpful and quite well-done, with interactive screens that allowed you to select different visual and audio applications filled with information and trivia—including, among other things, a visual file containing blueprints, a video file of actor anecdotes, and the audio guide, which was informative as you walked through the studios. I was glad to have picked up two more at the rental station, as it was well worth the rental.
At the front desk, children can grab a free “passport” to stamp while they are in certain areas of the tour. It contains beautiful sketches, questions for kids to answer, and a checklist for finding 15 golden snitches throughout the studio tour. You must approach and ask for this.
During the studio tour, when you step outside to see such artifacts as the triple-decker bus and the bridge to Hogwarts, there is a hot dog/snack kiosk and a butter beer stand. Otherwise, the small cafeteria is located in the lobby, outside of the tour. Since the tour lasts a few hours (they say to allow 3 ½ hours for a visit), you should plan meals/snacks accordingly.
You can take all the pictures your heart desires throughout your visit. In addition, there are opportunities to pose with a Quidditch broom or in the flying car. You can purchase the souvenir photos and/or video of your broom experience. Although there was a desk for purchasing the photos immediately upon exiting the photo experience, you could also purchase your photos at the desk in the (awesome) gift shop as you exit the studio tour. There was no line, and you could pose for Wanted Poster photos there as well. If you purchase your quidditch video, it comes on a souvenir flash drive in a souvenir tin.
We visited for my daughter’s birthday. At the beginning of the tour, she had the honor of pushing open the doors to the great hall. If it is your birthday during your visit, you can also ask a staff member for a birthday pin.
Since the Studios are located about an hour from London proper, in Leavesden, it is important to arrange transportation if you are not driving. There are bus companies who offer round trip transportation for both the customers who have purchased a bus tour ticket through the company, and for those who have purchased tickets directly through Warner Brothers Studio Tour London. We chose round trip transportation only, through Golden Tours, but the company also offers package deals that include admission. The double decker bus was decorated on the outside, which added to the experience.
What does this tour have to offer that you can’t get at Universal Studios Florida’s Harry Potter World? Original movie sets and movie props, unique green-screen photo and video opportunities, the experience of being where it all took place, and an overwhelming sense of awe as you walk around the model of Hogwarts at the very end of the tour.
What doesn’t it have? Theme park rides. It isn’t that kind of attraction.
More information about the studios tour can be found on the Harry Potter Studio Tour website.