I’ve been a Harry Potter fan since the day the first book was released in the States. My generation of Harry Potter readers is unique in that we started out at the same age as Harry and his friends and grew up alongside them, which means HP has always had a special place in our hearts. I even have a particular group of friends with whom I have seen all of the midnight movie premieres, with whom I held hands and cried when the credits started rolling at the end of the eighth and final movie, and with whom I spent a glorious (and yet terrible) twenty hours marathoning all eight movies one fateful December 23-24.
A few months ago, right as I was reading travel books and trying to decide what to do with my one free day in London, I happened upon this post by Casey at We Took the Road Less Traveled, and I knew immediately how to spend my free day: the Harry Potter Studio Tour at Warner Brothers Studios.
Casey’s advice, as well as the advice of real-life friends who have been, was to book a ticket in advance because they sell out quickly and can’t be purchased at the tour. I bought my ticket almost one month to the day before my tour date and many of the time slots were already unavailable. Luckily I managed to get one for a 9:30 AM tour. I also told my choir friends who would be on the trip with me and encouraged them to buy their tickets ASAP if they wanted to go with me. Naturally, none of them got their act together in time, so I was going alone. No biggie.
On the big day, my plan was to take the tube from our hotel to Euston Station in central London, which was the recommended starting point on the HP Studio Tour website. I left the hotel at 7:45, which allowed me almost two hours to get there. As luck would have it, that happened to be the weekend that several major tube lines and stations were closed, and after waiting an unnecessarily long time and traveling a grand total of two stations in half an hour, I gave up and hailed a cab to Euston Station. Once there, it was easy to buy a round-trip overground train ticket to Watford Junction, the end of that particular overground line and the nearest (and recommended) station to the studios.
Here’s where I must caution any future tour-goers. The website says that the train ride from Euston Station to Watford Junction takes about twenty minutes. Don’t rely on this being the case! That’s only true if the train doesn’t make any stops in between. If the train stops at every station, it will take approximately 45 minutes, which is what it took me. Needless to say, it was well past 9:30 AM by the time I even arrived at Watford Junction.
From there I headed to the bus stops right outside the station, where I and several other HP lovers were greeted by the shuttle bus to the studio tour. It was another 15-minute bus ride to the studio itself, and when we arrived I was able to redeem my emailed confirmation for an actual ticket. I had been nervous the whole time that they wouldn’t let me in after all that trouble, since my ticket was for a specific time that was already well past, but that didn’t seem to matter at all. I got in with no problem.
The rest of the experience was completely magical, for lack of a better term. It was everything I thought it would be, and my only disappointment was that my group of Harry Potter-loving friends back home weren’t there to share the joy with me.
I don’t want to spoil the magic by writing out too many details, so enjoy some of my favorite pictures from the tour. If you find yourself planning a trip to London, it is well worth the money and the excursion out of the city.
McGonagall, Dumbledore, and Snape in the Great Hall.
The Great Hall.
Me in front of the Hogwarts gate.
The Gryffindor boys’ dormitory.
The Mirror of Erised.
Inside the Burrow.
The Marauder’s Map.
The invisibility cloak’s secret revealed… green screen!
The Gryffindor common room. Can’t you just imagine hanging out and doing homework in here?
Drinking a butterbeer was a must!
One of the chess pieces. They are actually life size.
Buckbeak the hippogriff.
I’m in Diagon Alley!
The huge, magnificent model of Hogwarts that was used for all of the aerial shots in the movies.
What a fun experience!