Everything You Need to Know to Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour
A trip to the Warner Bros. Studios – The Making of Harry Potter experience in London earns a top spot on the Harry Potter fan bucket list. This magical Harry Potter Studio Tour dives behind-the-scenes of filming the international phenomenon that has captured the hearts, minds and childhoods of people from all across the world.
There’s literally hundreds, if not thousands, of things to see during a visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. Walk through sets built specifically for the filming of the Harry Potter films including the Great Hall, the Forbidden Forest, the Hogwarts Express, No. 4 Privet Drive, Gringotts and more. Learn all about the special effects that brought the magic of the wizarding world to life including Quidditch, the Whomping Willow, and all of the fantastic beasts that appear throughout the eight films. Plus you can savor the taste of the famous and delicious wizard drink of Butterbeer.
With so much to do and see at the Harry Potter Studio Tour, it’s important to plan to make sure you’re able to make the most of all the magic this experience has to offer. This guide covers EVERYTHING you could ever want to know about the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London from purchasing your tickets, how to get to Warner Brothers Studios and what to expect when you arrive at the tour.
Harry Potter Studio Tour Table of Contents
- Before You Go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
- When to Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour
- Special Times to Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
- Harry Potter Studio Tickets
- How to Get to Harry Potter Studio Tour by Train
- What to Expect at Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
- Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour Highlights
- Complete Overview of What to See at Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
Before You Go to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
These tips will help you to make the most of your magical journey even before you set foot onto the Harry Potter Studio Tour.
When to Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour
In order to make sure you get to see everything and experience all that the Harry Potter Studio tour offers, I strongly recommend booking a ticket for the morning (early afternoon latest if that’s all you can get). Though the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour is typically open until 10pm, the last entry time for the tour is actually 6:45pm to allow people to get through all of the tour and not miss the final shuttle to Watford Junction Rail Station.
The first time I visited the Harry Potter set tour in 2014, I spent six hours there and I definitely still missed a few things! Not everyone may need as much time as that, but don’t put yourself in a situation where you could miss part of the studio tour just because you chose a later ticket time especially since entry to the tour costs a pretty penny.
As far as time of year to visit, that’s really up to you. They only let a certain amount of people into the Harry Potter Studio tour each day and at each time slot available so the normal rules of travel timing don’t fully apply here (i.e. aim for shoulder months for less crowds). Make sure you plan ahead, though, because no matter the time of year tickets tend to fill up quite far in advance.
Special Times to Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
If you want to make your trip to the Harry Potter Studio tour even more magical, try to come when they have special events on for Halloween or Christmas. From mid-September to mid-November, the Warner Brothers Studios Tour typically decorates for Halloween and has some dark arts themed activities to take part in.
From mid-November to late January, the Harry Potter Studio tour gets all decorated for winter and the colder holidays by decking the halls. The Great Hall and Gryffindor Common Room both get made over to celebrate Christmas. Additionally, the model of the school used in all eight of the Harry Potter films is covered in snow. They also typically put on a Yule Ball for lucky visitors to enjoy a night of “well-mannered frivolity” in the Great Hall. It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity that’s definitely on my Harry Potter bucket list.
For more information on the special events that the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour will have on, check out their website.
Harry Potter Studio Tickets
You must, must, must buy tickets before you arrive at the The Making of Harry Potter at Warner Brothers Studios. You will not be able to buy a ticket on-site at the studios in Leavesden. They won’t even let you buy a ticket for the studio shuttle at Watford Junction Railway Station without some sort of confirmation that you have a ticket for that day.
Buying Tickets from Warner Brothers Studios
The easiest way to buy tickets to the Harry Potter Studio Tour, of course, is through the Warner Brothers website. The website makes purchasing a ticket extremely easy. You select how many tickets you want and the day and time that you want to visit. Aim for earlier in the day so you can take your time to see everything that the Harry Potter Studio tour has to offer.
With a massive worldwide fandom, though, tickets do tend to sell out up to 3 months in advance. If you’re planning on coming to London and really want to do the Harry Potter Studio Tour, I highly recommend heading over to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour website to find available times as soon as you know the dates you’ll be visiting so you can book this attraction first.
Buying Tickets from Tour Companies
If you are not able to get tickets from Warner Brothers Studios, don’t fret! All hope is not lost. Many tourism companies provide round-trip tours to the Harry Potter Studio tour from London, including entry to the tour itself. Some will drop you there, allow you to make it through on your own time and head back to London on your own.
Some of these tour companies include:
If you search Viator or similar sites, you may also be able to find some private or small group guided tours through there.
(Please note I have not used any of the above tour companies, but want to provide options for those Harry Potter fans who really want to see the Harry Potter set tour and missed out on tickets from the Warner Brothers website.)
Buying Harry Potter Studio Tickets Last Minute
Maybe you didn’t quite get the memo that you need to book the Harry Potter Studio Tour tickets weeks, if not months, in advance. Or maybe your dream trip to London came more spur of the moment and you want to make sure you see the Harry Potter Studio Tour. It’s a week or even closer to when you want to visit and all hope feels lost that you won’t get to do this magical opportunity that you’ve been dying to do as a Harry Potter fan. I’ve been there.
First, take a breath and know that all hope is not actually lost. Next, remember these words of wisdom from Dumbledore: “Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light.” Well your light here is going to be persistence.
Now let’s get down to your action plan.
Step one if you’re looking to buy Harry Potter studio tickets last minute is to check the tour companies. There are many out there including Golden Tours, Premium Tours and City Wonders. Check Viator as well as they often have different types of guided tours that you can purchase from there. You can also check the Travel Partners section on the Warner Brothers website for a full list of travel companies that can help get you into the Harry Potter Studio Tour.
If those are booked, move on to step two. Obsessively check the Warner Brothers ticket page of the website. Life comes up for all people, which might mean that tickets will come up last minute for the next day or even a few days in advance. Using this method, I was able to get a ticket into the Harry Potter Studio Tour just two days ahead of when I actually visited.
How to Get to Harry Potter Studio Tour by Train
The easiest way to get to the Harry Potter Studio Tour from London is via train. Whatever station you’re coming from in London, the goal will be to get to Watford Junction Station. From there, you can hop aboard a Warner Brothers Studio double decker bus shuttle that will take you from the train station to the Harry Potter set tour at Leavesden.
Train Routes to the Harry Potter Studio Tour
First, let’s cover the different stations in London that you can depart from in order to make it to Watford Junction. Euston Station will be the most easiest direct train journey to Watford Junction from London. The shortest of these journeys lasts roughly about 20 minutes. You can depart from other London train stations, however you’ll most likely have to change trains at Euston Station to make it to Watford Junction.
Here are estimated train times from each of the major train stations in London:
- Euston Station: 20 minutes (direct)
- Kings Cross: 35 minutes
- St. Pancras: 35 minutes
- Victoria Station: 35 minutes
- Waterloo: 40 minutes
- Clapham Junction: 45 minutes (direct)
- London Bridge: 45 minutes
Shuttle from Watford Junction to Harry Potter Studio Tour
Once you make it off the train at Watford Junction, the best way to get to the Warner Brothers Harry Potter Studio Tour is by taking the studio-operated shuttle that runs between Watford Junction and Warner Brothers Studio at Leavesden. There will be signs that point you in the right direction from the moment you get off the train, but when you come out of the station turn towards the left and the shuttle bus area will be just a few steps out of the station.
The shuttle ticket costs £3.00 per person and covers your return journey back to Watford Junction from the studios. Once on the bus, the shuttle takes about 15 minutes to drive from Watford Junction to the Warner Brothers Studio tour. They typically play a video or tour teasing what you’re about to see on the tour to get you hyped up (if you’re not already).
What to Expect at Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
Before we dive into what you’ll see at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London, let’s cover off on a few logistics of what you should expect during this magical experience.
Arriving at the Harry Potter Studio Tour
You’ll want to arrive to Warner Brothers Studios at least 30 minutes before the start time listed on your ticket. Unless you had your tickets mailed to you, you’ll need to pick them off from the roll-call office. Make sure you have your email confirmation handy to show to the ticket collection agent. This can be on your phone or printed.
Please note that you absolutely have to purchase your Harry Potter Studio Tour ticket ahead of time. You will not be able to purchase a ticket on-site at the studio.
Once you have your tickets at hand, a lovely guide at the front of the building will check your tickets and usher you inside. You’ll then have to go through security where they have you walk through a metal detector and the security personnel will do the usually look into your bag to make sure you’re not bringing anything prohibited or illegal into the building.
If you’ve purchased the Complete Studio Tour Ticket, you’ll pick up your digital audio guide in this first hall that you walk into. To the left, you’ll find a desk where you can get the device and headset. There’s also a cloak room and bathrooms in this initial hall if you need them.
Now it’s time to get ready for your tour! Your ticket will tell you what your specified time is to enter. You can actually start just a little bit before that time, though. The gatekeeper to the entrance of the studio tour (located in the second hall where the giant Hungarian Horntail stands guard) will allow people to queue up 15 minutes ahead of the tour time.
If you’ve got more than 15 minutes, you can always take a look in the gift shop or grab a bite at the Food Hall or the Chocolate Frog Cafe.
How Long to Spend at the Harry Potter Studio Tour?
Warner Brothers Studios estimates that the average time spent at the Harry Potter Studio Tour is three and a half hours. However, if you’re a true Harry Potter fan and want to experience everything the tour has to offer without rushing, I would recommend giving yourself six hours.
This allows you to take in all of the sets and listen to each of the digital audio recordings for each of the areas throughout the studio tour. It also leaves you time to do some of the experiential items like riding a broomstick, getting to sit in one of the train compartments from the Hogwarts Express or stepping into the LeStrange Vault at Gringotts. PLUS you’ll definitely want to stop for a bite at the Backlot Cafe and try the famous wizard drink of Butterbeer. The Backlot Cafe is the only location in the Harry Potter Studio Tour that sells Butterbeer.
Below is my recommended itinerary to make sure you get the most out of your Harry Potter Studio Tour:
- 2.5 hours: Explore the first sound stage, which include Hogwarts sets and props, the broomstick experience, Forbidden Forest, Hogwarts Express experience and more
- 30 minutes: Grab some Butterbeer and a bite to eat at the Backlot Cafe
- 30 minutes: Explore the outdoor sets, which include the Dursley’s House, Potter’s Cottage, the Hogwarts Bridge to Nowhere, Knight Bus and more
- 1.5 hours: Explore the second stage, which includes the creature special effects studio, Gringotts Bank, Diagon Alley, Hogwarts Model and more
Once you’ve wrapped seeing the inside of the Harry Potter Studio Tour, you can explore the gift shop or grab another snack at the Food Hall before departing.
Don’t worry about having to rush just because your ticket time slotted you for a specific time. Unless it’s closing time, Warner Brothers Studio tour won’t kick you out of the set tour just because you’re taking your time to see and experience everything that they have on display.
Food at the Harry Potter Studio Tour
Warner Brothers Studios provides a number of food options throughout the Harry Potter Studio Tour experience. In the area before entering the tour, you’ll find three options for food:
- Chocolate Frog Cafe: cakes, hot chocolate and ice cream
- The Food Hall: breakfast, roasts, burgers, sandwiches and hot desserts
- The Hub Cafe: Grab and go sandwiches, baked goods and an assortment of cold and hot beverages
Once you enter the Harry Potter set tour, the next option for food will be the Backlot Cafe that separates sound stage 1 and sound stage 2. The Backlot Cafe has a number of options to select from on their menu including sandwiches, hot dogs, and burgers. Most importantly, it’s here that you can get your hands on a glass of ice cold Butterbeer.
For those Butterbeer enthusiasts, it’s important to note that the only place you can purchase this delicious drink is at the Backlot Cafe within the Harry Potter set tour. At this point, you cannot purchase it from the food options in the main entry hall.
You can also bring your own food to eat at the Backlot Cafe area if you want to save a little money. Tables are available inside and outside at the cafe.
Facilities at Warner Brothers Studio London
In addition to cafes at the Harry Potter Studio Tours, there are a number of other facilities on-site to make your Warner Brothers Studio experience comfortable. These include:
- Cloak Room
- Bathrooms at regular points throughout the Harry Potter Studio Tour
- Portable phone chargers available for purchase of £15
- Gift Shop
Digital Audio Tour Guide
To complement the tour and provide even more information to fans on the Harry Potter Studio Tour, Warner Brothers Studio provides digital audio tour guides that give behind-the-scenes information on each of the different set areas that you’ll find throughout the tour experience.
While there are signs posted at each of the set areas, they do not cover the full breadth of information that the digital audio guides do. For that reason, I strongly recommend paying a little extra to get the Complete Studio Tour Package ticket. It is worth every penny for all of the little nuggets of filming magic that you learn from the audio guide that do not come across in the printed signs. Plus you get a free printed souvenir guide to take home with you at the end of the tour!
Talk to the Interactors
Throughout the tour you’ll notice studio workers standing around the different set areas. no , they’re not there to scold you for stepping over the line (though they might do that). They’re actually there to preach their Harry Potter knowledge to any and all who want to here.
These studio workers are actually known as interactors and typically are die-hard Harry Potter fans just like you! They live, breathe and work Harry Potter and want to share that knowledge. So if you have a question or want to know a little more about a set, make sure you talk to one of the interactors.
Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour Highlights
There’s so much to see and do at the Harry Potter Warner Brothers Studio Tour. I’ll dive into a broader overview in the next section, but wanted to cover some of the key highlights that will make your experience at the Harry Potter Studio Tour magical.
Each of these highlights are listed in the order that you would be able to experience on the Harry Potter set tour.
Walk Through the Great Hall
As Harry Potter fans, we’ve all dreamed of getting the chance to walk through the Great Hall of Hogwarts. For most of us that dream starts with receiving our letters at the age of 11 and then walking through the house tables to find out whether we’d be sorted into Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin.
That day, unfortunately, may never come. But the kick off to the Harry Potter Studio Tour is being able to walk through the set used for the Great Hall in the Harry Potter movies. In this room you can explore robes from each of the houses, get a look at the costumes worn by the school professors and take in the general splendor of this beautiful dining hall we’ve all dreamed of sitting in.
Visit Dumbledore’s Office
One of the most special sets that you can visit at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London is the Hogwarts Headmaster’s Office. Designed as a sacred retreat for Hogwarts headmasters, this office calls upon many of Dumbledore’s loves including the universe and skies.
You’ll find hundreds of ancient books (really phonebooks designed to look old) and the rotating cabinet of 800 handcrafted Dumbledore memories. Keep your eyes peeled for the Sword of Gryffindor, the sorting hat and the costumes worn by each of the Dumbledores throughout the years.
Fly a Broomstick
Unfortunately, Daniel Radcliffe never really flew on a broomstick. Filmmakers used special effects to give the appearance of flying though by placing Radcliffe on a broomstick in front of a green screen.
You can recreate this experience for yourself during a visit to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. Don a Hogwarts robe, jump on the broomstick and you’ll soon be flying over London just like the Order of Phoenix did in the fifth movie!
Stroll through the Forbidden Forest
Ignore Filch’s warning at the beginning of each year and explore the fantastic creatures that inhabit the Forbidden Forest at Hogwarts. You’ll encounter Buckbeak the Hippogriff, a centaur, and maybe a giant spider or four.
Early on filmmakers shot on-location at Black Park. However, not being able to control the elements of a real forest for filming became an issue so they decided to build their own Dark Forest for the later films. Each of the giant towering tress in this eerie set were hand-built by set producers.
Board the Hogwarts Express
The Hogwarts Express served as the backdrop for the very first scene shot for the Harry Potter series, as well as the very last. This makes it one of the most sentimental sets that you can visit at the Harry Potter Studio Tour.
Filmmakers utilized a real steam locomotive that was shot both on-location at different places in the UK, as well as on the sound stage here at the Warner Brothers Studios Tour at Leavesden.
Make sure to take a stroll through the Hogwarts Express and peep inside the windows of each of the compartments. Set designers have styled each of the compartments from the films that the trio rode the train.
Once you’re done exploring this vintage train, pop across the way to take a picture in one of the compartments that were actually used for the filming of the scenes aboard the Hogwarts Express.
Sip on Butterbeer
When learning how magic is created, drink as wizards do. You can grab a mug or two of the delicious Butterbeer drink at the Backlot Cafe on the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Flavored like butterscotch, the drink is quite sweet with a tasty foam that topping it off that I could honestly eat buckets of.
Butterbeer is only available at the Back Lot Cafe and is not served at the other food areas in the main entry hall of the Warner Brothers Studio Tour.
Visit No. 4 Privet Drive
Visit the home where it all started: No. 4 Privet Drive. Here is the home of the Dursleys where Harry lived in a cupboard below the stairs until his 11th birthday. You can pose for a picture outside the famous house and then take a walk through the downstairs portion. Make sure to take a look into the living room for a Hogwarts letter surprise.
Learn How all the Magical Creatures Were Created
Did you know most of the magical creatures that appear in the Harry Potter films weren’t actually CGI? I didn’t either until I visited the Magical Creature Shop at the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London.
Learning about how set and costume designers brought these fantastic beasts to life is real-life magic. There’s got to be at least a hundred different creature special effects you can explore here including Dobby the house elf, Hagrid’s animatronic head, the deformed voldemort, the basilisk and so much more.
Check out the Vaults at Gringotts
Explore the magic behind the creation of Gringotts and the ancient vaults that lay beneath its surface. In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, filmmakers use the lobby of the Australia House as the filming location for Gringotts.
When it came to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, though, they needed a bit more flexibility with the set. Well, really they needed to be able to have a dragon destroy it. For this reason, they built a replica of the Australia House lobby onsite at the sound stages at Warner Brothers Studios.
In the Gringotts section of the Harry Potter Studio Tour, you can also visit the LeStrange Vault, see the Sorcerer’s Stone and learn about all of the special effects that went into recreating the magic of Gringotts.
Take in Panoramic Views of Hogwarts
Be prepared for all of the feels when you step into the Hogwarts model room. Heartwarming music from the films play in the background as you take in the full majesty of the school of witchcraft and wizardry.
No one castle in the UK called out to filmmakers when they were scouting locations for the filming of the Harry Potter films. So instead they created their own. This 3D model of Hogwarts appears in most of the background and scenery shots of the schools that you see throughout the eight films. Filmmakers digitally imposed this structure into the dramatic Scottish Highland landscapes that surround the school.
Complete Overview of What to See at Harry Potter Studio Tour in London
This overview dives into everything that you’ll see at the Harry Potter Studio tour in London in the order that you’ll see it. It’s broken up into the different main sections of Warner Brothers Studios. I don’t cover information on each of these topics only because part of the magic of the Harry Potter Studio Tour is discovering and learning through your set tour journey.
Entry Hall to Harry Potter Studio Tour
Before you even enter the official tour area, Warner Brothers Studios provides a number of options to explore including props from the films, a chance to grab a snack and a gift shop full of all the Harry Potter merchandise you could ever dream of.
These areas can be found in the entry hall to Harry Potter Studio Tour:
- Digital Audio Guide Pickup
- Cloak Room
- Hungarian Horntail
- Entry to the Harry Potter Studio Tour
- Harry Potter Gift Shop
- Chocolate Frog Cafe
- The Hub Cafe
- The Food Hall
Line at Harry Potter Studio Tour
Entering the Harry Potter Studio Tour is actually entering a line to join an entry group to explore the Harry Potter sets. Don’t worry because Warner Brothers Studio does a great job of keeping those waiting in line entertained with behind-the-scenes info.
- Information on each of the child actors
- Behind-the-scenes videos on different aspects of filming the Harry Potter films
- The cupboard under the staircase
- Film posters for each of the eight Harry Potter Films
- Film that covers the rules and tips for making the most of the Harry Potter Studio Tour
- Film that gives an overview of the Harry Potter history
Hogwarts Great Hall
The tour officially begins when the giant doors open up to the Hogwarts Great Hall. Now you’ll be able to step into the famous dining hall that Harry Potter fans from around the world have all dreamed of.
You can see robes from each of the Hogwarts houses, take in the costumes worn by the Hogwarts professors and all the other intricate details set designers included to bring the magic of this room alive for the films.
What to See at Sound Stage 1 at Harry Potter Studio Tour
After the Hogwarts Great Hall, you’ll be funnelled into the first section of the Harry Potter Studio Tour: Sound Stage 1. There’s so much here to explore including Hogwarts sets, special effects used in the film, the Hogwarts Express and more!
These areas can be found in the first sound stage at Harry Potter Studio Tour:
- Directors, Producers, Screenwriters Intro
- Special Effects of the Great Hall
- Yule Ball
- Costumes and Makeup Effects from the Film
- Hogwarts Sets
- Umbridge Decrees
- Hogwarts Staircase
- Fountain from the Prefects Bathroom
- Gryffindor Boys Dormitory
- Mirror of Erised
- Fat Lady
- Gryffindor Common Room
- Three Broomsticks Entrance
- Props from the Film/Room of Requirement
- Entrance Way Clock
- Headmaster’s Office
- Potions Classroom
- Hagrid’s Hut
- Special Effects from the Films
- Gringotts Cart
- Hagrid’s Motorbike
- Ford Anglia
- Whomping Willow
- Chamber of Secrets
- Moody’s Chest
- The Burrow
- Dark Magic Area
- Vanishing Cabinet
- Props from Bourgin and Bourkes
- Table at Malfoy Manor scene from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1
- Tom Riddle Senior’s Gravestone
- Black Family Tapestry
- Ministry of Magic
- Umbridge’s Office
- Forbidden Forest
- Aragog and the Giant Spiders
- Patronus Spell
- Platform 9 ¾
- Trolly through Platform 9 ¾
- Hogwarts Express
- Hogwarts Express Compartment Photo Opportunity
- Paper Props from the Harry Potter films
What to See at the Backlot of the Harry Potter Studio Tour
In between the two sound stages is an outdoor area that hosts the Backlot Cafe (Butterbeer anyone?) and a number of the outdoor sets used in the Harry Potter Films. Hop aboard the Knight Bus, walk through No. 4 Privet Drive or stroll down the Hogwarts Bridge to Nowhere.
These areas can be found in the backlot at Harry Potter Studio Tour:
- Backlot Cafe – Butterbeer
- Backlot Area
- Knight Bus
- Hogwarts Bridge to Nowhere
- No. 4 Privet Drive
- Potter’s Cottage
- Weasley’s Ford Anglia
- Hagrid’s Motorbike
- Wizard’s Chess Pieces
What to See at Sound Stage 2 at Harry Potter Studio Tour
After exploring the backlot, make your way into the second sound stage at Harry Potter Studio Tour. Here you can learn all about how filmmakers brought the fantastic beasts of the wizarding world to life, wander around the famous wizard bank of Gringotts, stroll down Diagon Alley and more!
These areas can be found in the second sound stage at Harry Potter Studio Tour:
- Magical Creature Shop
- Models of Gringotts
- Gringotts Lobby
- Vault Cart
- Nicholas Flamel’s Vault and the Sorcerer’s Stone
- Lestrange’s Vault
- Destroyed Gringotts
- Diagon Alley
- Painting and Paper Models for the films
- Hogwarts Model Room