Habitually early to everything I admit I was late to the Harry Potter party. Not just fashionably late, but disgracefully late… I wouldn’t even consider reading the books until Book 4, The Goblet of Fire, was published.
I’m not sure what was holding me back? Maybe I just didn’t like the idea of jumping on the bandwagon? However, once I jumped on I quickly plowed through the first four books and then like everyone else anxiously waited for books 5,6, & 7 to arrive. I wish I could say it went differently with my older son, but following in my footsteps he resisted reading the books until I literally bribed him… he then read all seven in 14 days!
Our entire family loves the Harry Potter movies, so you would think that after our experience with the books we might have learned our lesson. Not so! Apparently, we’re slow learners. We thought that having already visited Harry Potter worlds in both Orlando and Los Angeles as well as a traveling exhibition in Seattle we’d pretty much seen all there was to see, so why bother trekking to the Studios where they were made? Six visits to London later, we finally decided to visit the WB Studios Exhibition: The Making of Harry Potter.
WE HAD THE BEST TIME!
This was so much more than we expected! Even having visited those other Harry Potter related places we realized this was something else altogether, and it’s no wonder, as there really is nothing like the original!
Exploring the Magic of Harry Potter
After you’ve taken care of the basics, coat check, audio guide, etc, see below for some tips, you’ll want to jump in the queue and get right to exploring. The line moves quickly, and while you wait you’ll get a chance to see Harry’s cupboard under the stairs.
Once you’ve made it through the queue, a guide will give you a brief introduction to the studios and you’ll watch a short film about the worldwide phenomena that the books and movies became. It’s almost time to set about exploring the Magical World of Harry Potter and how it came to life, but first you’ll hear a few words from Harry, Ron and Hermione.
There were many moments during our day at WB Studios London that felt magical, and while I want to share them all, I don’t want to give away all the secrets!
Our visit took place during the festive season, and everything within the Studios was decorated beautifully. From the holiday feast and Christmas puddings upon the tables in the Great Hall to the magical Christmas trees and snow throughout.
Your guide will stay with you while you explore the Great Hall and then you’ll be set free to explore at your own pace for the remainder of the day. You’ll have a chance to see and learn about the making of just about everything involved with all 8 films. Take your time and keep your eyes open because magic is happening everywhere!
There are many interactive activities throughout the Studio, including flying a broomstick, Hagrid’s motorbike or the weasly’s car. Maybe you just need a bit of practice with your spells? You’re in luck!
Wondering what it would be like to go inside Dumbledore’s Office, ride the Hogwarts Express, or explore The Ministry of Magic, maybe you fancy a walk through the Dark Forest? Guess what? You can, and many surprises await along the way…
Choosing a favorite exhibition would be tough as there were so many, but we all loved exploring the Hogwarts Express and the many activities on the platform and aboard the train. The Ministry of Magic sets were, like everything within the Studio, incredibly detailed, but the sheer size of them was also very impressive!
The Back Lot
Halfway through our day we took a break for a meal and some butterbeer, and were surprised to see it was snowing outside. Was it that cold out? Whoops! We’d forgotten… we were at a movie studio.
After lunch we had a chance to explore some of the Studio’s outdoor sets, which included: The Knight Bus, the Weasly’s flying car, and Hagrid’s motorcycle.
We also had a chance to walk though 4 Privet Drive, the Dursely’s home, and to see The Potter’s Cottage in Godric’s Hollow.
Other outdoor exhibits included the chess pieces from The Sorcerers Stone, and the bridge to Hogwarts.
You’ll see and learn how many of the books magical creatures came to life for the movies when you walk through the model, creature, and hair and make up shops!
Next up a stroll through Diagon Alley where you’ll learn about how those magical footprints happen in the snow.
Our first sight of the Hogwarts model literally made our mouths fall open! I think it must be the most amazing model I have ever seen! It was absolutely stunning! This exhibit is near the end, so make sure you allow time to really take it all in.
Of course we visited the gift shop before heading home and lucky me visiting during the festive season meant lots of holiday baubles to bring home!
Tips & Advice:
- If you don’t have a car getting to the WB Studios outside of London can be challenging. After weighing all our transportation options we discovered that prices between the different options varied only slightly, so we went with convenience. We hired a private car through the Golden Tours website.
- Upon arrival to the Studios you’ll redeem your ticket voucher at the outdoor ticket window before entering the security line.
- The tickets are timed, but if like us you arrive early you won’t have to wait, just queue up!
- Once inside you’ll find a place to pick up an audio guide and check your coat. You’ll also find a coffee shop and restrooms. I highly suggest hitting the loo as once inside the exhibition the restrooms are quite far from one another.
- The food at the cafe is on the upside of cafeteria food and we had no complaints. The line for just Butterbeer was much longer than the food line, however you can also order Butterbeer in the food line. We topped it all off with Butterbeer ice cream!
- Allow yourself plenty of time. We spent 5 hours exploring and still felt like we could of used more time. Lesson definitely learned as we all had an amazing time at the Warner Brothers Studios London. Believe it or not these are just a few of the many photos we took during our visit.
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This looks so incredible! We are headed here in the Spring for my Big LIttle’s birthday and I couldn’t be more excited. I love this little sneak peak! #CityTripping
Oh! You’re going to love it!! Take your time there’s SO much to see!
I think this would be so cool to visit with kids. I’ll admit that I’m a purist and I loved the books more than the movies, but seeing all of these pieces come to life as a kid would be incredible! Love seeing how much your kids enjoyed it, too!! Like you, I wasn’t on board early, and in fact, I made a joke about the books, and my mom sent me book #1. I was hooked immediately and waited in line for 5, 6, and 7 at midnight release parties…. LOL #citytripping
Ha ha! Good to know I’m not alone! Yes, I agree books are almost always better then movie versions, but as far as these things go they did an amazing job! A rare occasion!
That looks way cooler than I would have thought the studio tour would be! I love the fact that there are so many interactive exhibits (wand choreography? sounds like fun!). #FarawayFiles
It’s definitely a cool place and nothing like a theme park! I highly recommend!
I felt the same way about Twilight – I didn’t read them until they were all published and only to see what the big fuss was about – they were good but not HP good haha #FarawayFiles
I did the same with twilight. I agree with you HP is definitely the better series, but I admit to enjoying the other quite a lot!
Isn’t that just the best place to be for Harry Potter fans? Been there two years ago and absolutely looooved it!!! Thanks for bringing back so many great memories. 🙂 #FrawayFiles
It sure is!! We loved it and easily could have spent more time exploring!
We’re not theme park lovers at all but we absolutely adored the Harry Potter Studios. The detail there is incredible and they’ve been very clever about adding new things to encourage people to revisit. We’re going for the third time next month. It’s one of the best family days out ever! #FarawayFiles
Ooh! I didn’t know they keep adding! That’s brilliant on their part isn’t it?! I felt so silly for never having gone before, but now we know!!
Trish @ Mum's Gone To
We loved the book and movies so I’ve no idea why I still haven’t done the studio tour. It looks so fabulous – so much detail. I really must sort this out and go!
I hope you do go and would love to know what you think after!!
I absolutely love it here- the detail is amazing and they are always adding new things too, can’t wait to introduce my daughter to Harry Potter when she’s bigger. It really is nothing like a theme park either (though Universal is on my one day list) Thanks for linking up with #citytripping (also found through #farawayfiles)
Universal is really fun too as it’s very immersive, but I loved this more! Of course I’m a big fan of the movies and have toured a number is Studios. I love learning how the magic happens.
Great post. Incidentally even I got in to Harry Potter from Goblet of Fire, and then I became an ardent fan. I am yet to visit the HP studio. I loved walking through Shambles in York, which was the inspiration for Diagon Alley. happy Travelling #Farawayfiles
Thanks! We loved The Shambles too! I hope you get to the studios soon!!
So many of my friends have done this tour and like you, absolutely loved it! I remember reading the first Harry Potter book back in school and thinking it was so good… little did I know how much of a phenomenon it would be! #farawayfiles
It’s amazing how much excitement it still creates 20 years in!
fifi + hop
Ok so I’m going to be the lame-o and say that I’m not a Harry Potter person (I know, I know), however when we went to the Harry Potter World at Universal Orlando I was absolutely blown away. I keep hearing that the studio in London is amazing, and you’v clearly demonstrated that! Looks incredible. #farawayfiles
Ha ha! It’s okay, I get that not everyone enjoys this type of story… however we all loved the movies and the studio is so well done I think everyone would enjoy themselves even more so than at the universal experience which I think is also done extremely well! Xx
I can’t wait till I can read the books with my boys, I’m sure they’ll love them, I did. Looks like a brilliant place, we only live half an hour from there so we’ll definitely be visiting! #farawayfiles
Wow! I had no idea how extensive this place is. As I’ve read only the first book, I’m VERY late to the party. But I’m inspired to read more now. My favorite photo is of your son on the motorcycle sidecar with Harry Potter 🙂
We were halfway through and had no idea it was so big! Lots of fun!! Yes! That’s my favorite too! They really enjoyed that!
Just reading your post and seeing your fantastic pictures and I feel transported there. I so want to visit. I adored the books and the films. #FarawayFiles
Rachel ¦¦ A Nesting Nomad
Ha, I tend to be anti-bandwagon too and I think I only got onto Harry Potter a fair while after everyone else! This looks like a lot of fun, and especially at Christmas time. I had no idea it was such an extensive place!
It was very extensive and I hear they’re always adding new exhibitions!
It’s a great venue, I went there last year and your photos have brought back all the memories. Back in 2005 I thought up a ‘Kwidditch’ spoof event to take place on April Fool’s day for the members of the adventure group I used to run. Unfortunately it resulted in an uncomfortable conversation with one of our members, ending in acute social embarrassment. It makes me cringe every time I think about it.
So glad to have brought back happy memories for you. Sounds like you got fooled by your own fools day spoof!