We first heard of the Harry Potter Studios tours back in 2012 during a stopover in London when Fanfan was all excited by the posters plastering the walls of Notting Hill Gate tube station. And it has been on the top of the to-do list in London ever since. So on our next stopover in London, during the run-up to Christmas, we couldn’t miss out on the magical ‘Hogwarts in the Snow’ when the wizardly Harry Potter Studio sets are all transformed into magical festive winter scenes. And while it is officially named the ‘Warner Bros. Studio Tour London’, it is 100% Harry Potter, and there’s a lot to it.
So this tour was obviously Fanfan’s idea, being all weird for everything Harry Potter, but I was more than happy to straggle behind for the photos and magic and ‘romance’. But it is hard not to get swept up in the enchantment of it all when arriving early in the tour to Hogwarts Great Hall which is decked with Christmas trees, reefs and Christmas dinners (not eatable). This then follows through with fireplaces lit throughout the tour, set are sprinkled with artificial snow, and there are even workshops showing how the artificial fires and snow are created. It’s the perfect Christmas outing.
The Harry Potter Studios
I did plan to share all that the Harry Potter Studios tour had to offer. But it’s impossible. As it was like almost every backdrop of every Harry Potter movie was covered on the tour. With all the original settings, props, costumes and workshops from the get-go. There’s just far too much to cover. Even the outside scenes like Privet Drive are sprayed by snow cannons, and I literally thought it was snowing when I first stepped outside.
But the highlight of the Hogwarts in the Snow was the model of Hogwarts castle used for nearly every exterior shot of Hogwarts which is again all covered in snow. And this is the great thing about the Harry Potter Studios tours. It’s an attraction that you can keep coming back to, where set designs change and evolve, are recreated and redecorated to celebrate the different seasons of the year. “Ghostly Goings-On” at Halloween sounds fun.
The Harry Potter Studio Tours
I was slightly concerned before about the crowds and the accessibility to various scenes. This wasn’t really necessary in the end as we were pretty much walking up to each set and scene to snap photos, before moving to the next. Which is maybe because of the limited tour sizes and tour times and just the sheer size of the whole studio. The only queues we really saw were for the pay-for-attractions, like the Nimbus 2000 green screen and pints of Butter Beer, as well as the odd freebie photo-op like the Hogwarts Express. But there just wasn’t really much to queue for.
The Harry Potter Studios Tour
There are options of touch screen ticket machines and manned counters at the Harry Potter Studios, and we again arrive with little more than a reference number. We have our tickets printed from the machines, then queue for our assigned tour time. For this post With allotted tour times I also thought we’d have to follow a fully guided tour, but only the first short cinema screening and introduction to the Great Hall are guided, before we’re let loose in the studios. You could explore all day if you want.
Travel to the Warner Bros Studio
The studios are located outside of London, and near Watford, where alternatives for getting there aren’t really great. For short-stay tourists, like us, the simplest route would be by the direct busses/coaches leaving from the Victoria Station area. But the bus to Warner Bros Studio for us was £31 (return tickets) which is a bit of a rip-off, as is London, and it is similar to the price of the actual Harry Potter tour tickets of the Warner Bros. website. But, all in, the money is worth it. It is possible to travel by train.
Travel by Train to Warner Bros Studio
The cheapest option for travel would likely be by train from central London; travelling to Watford Junction, where there are regular shuttle busses to the Harry Potter Studios.
Travel By Coach to Warner Bros Studio
So we paid the extra to cut out unnecessary hassles and uncertainty as the bundled bus ticket option through for the Harry Potter Studios tours (Golden Tours website) include the perk of guaranteeing you’ll be at the studios on time. Just type in the tour time on the website and they’ll tell you which bus to get. The buses leave from ‘Fountain Square” near Victoria Underground Station (yellow circle line) and next to Victoria Coach Station and the Golden Tours office is at Fountain Square Mall.
Harry Potter Tour Times
There are set times for tours assigned for tickets so it is best to arrive on time. Or be bundled into a later tour if space frees up. So it is best to arrange travel and arrival times to coincide with the tour. The first tour normally beginning 09:00AM and the last tours starting around 14.30PM – 15:00PM. The studios then close at 18:00PM.
Return Bus from Warner Bros Studio
If travelling by bus with Golden Tours tickets will be given with a return journey voucher and assigned times. This assigned return ticket more or less guarantees if coaches a seat on the day and we were still able to jump on a bus an hour earlier than assigned with no trouble. Arriving back to London there will then be alternative stops to get off (Victoria, Baker Street or Kings Cross). It’s all quite easy.
The Harry Potter Studio Bus Experience
The Harry Potter Studio Bus (Golden Tours) isn’t quite as exciting as the Knight Bus (Prisoner of Azkaban), and there’s no Stan Shunpike and it’s pretty much just a normal bus with Harry Potter print on the side. They do play Harry Potter movies on-board which does help with that magical Harry Potter feel for Hogwarts in the Snow.