We finally made it to the Harry Potter studios!! Most of the major movies in the UK (think James Bond) are filmed at Pinewood Studios west of London, and as far as I’ve been able to determine, it’s a closed campus. Harry Potter, however, was filmed north of London at the Warner Bros. Studios in Leavesden, which used to be a Rolls-Royce factory and WWII airfield.

This massive 200-acre studio complex is wide open to the public. That being said, you can’t just show up…you have to pre-book your tickets online. You can also arrive on your own or take the special Harry Potter bus from London for an extra £17 per person. We opted for the bus to keep things simple, and because it looks awesome! We’ve seen it many times while waiting at random bus stops downtown.

The Harry Potter bus from London.

The Harry Potter bus from London.

Main studio entrance.

Main studio entrance.

And they’re fairly strict about entrance times. You have to select one when you buy your ticket, and they keep you in line inside waiting to open the doors until your precise ticket time. Once they open the doors, they funnel about 200+ people into a room with a large screen and show you a little “making of” clip. Then you get to enter the first part of the set, which is the Great Hall.

I had been waiting to go during the holiday season specifically because they add festive décor to various sets to mirror the ones in the films. So the Great Hall had the whole Christmas feast laid out as well as the Christmas trees and ornaments that were used during those scenes. It was truly impressive!

Cupboard under the stairs.

Cupboard under the stairs. You can see this while you’re waiting in line for the tour to start.

Great Hall holiday style.

Great Hall holiday style.

Feast table and Christmas trees.

Feast table and Christmas trees.

Cute penguin cake.

Cute snowman cake.

You’re given about 15 minutes in the Great Hall as it’s independent from the other sets, and they need to keep the traffic moving. But after that you have as much time as you’d like to wander around. The rest of the sets are all housed in one huge soundstage and are a permanent exhibition.

Other highlights of the tour include props, costumes and major sets, such as Dumbledore’s Office, Diagon Alley, the Ministry of Magic, Gryffindor Common Room and Boys’ Dormitory, Hagrid’s Hut and a 1:24 scale model of Hogwarts Castle, which was dusted with snow for the winter theme. I also loved the Yule Ball ice sculpture prop and testing out the brooms and flying car with the family on the green screen.

Yule Ball ice sculpture prop.

Yule Ball ice sculpture prop.

Close up of amazing detail.

Close up of amazing detail.

Harry & Ron's room.

Harry & Ron’s room.

Potions class with Snape costume.

Potions class with Snape costume.

Just a few of the MANY potion bottles.

Just a few of the MANY potion bottles.

Diagon Alley.

Diagon Alley.

Ministry of Magic.

Ministry of Magic.

Snake door from Chamber of Secrets.

Snake door from Chamber of Secrets.

Exterior lot: Privet Drive.

Exterior lot: Privet Drive.

Detail on the Hogwart's Bridge.

Detail on the Hogwart’s Bridge.

Inside the Night Bus.

Inside the Night Bus.

1:24 miniature of Hogwarts with people on the side for scale.

1:24 miniature of Hogwarts dusted with snow for the holidays and with people on the side for scale.

Me in front of Hogwarts!

Me in front of Hogwarts!

Another close up with amazing detail.

Close up of the little bridge behind me.

Our four-year-old even made it through the three hours that overlapped with his naptime without a single meltdown…although he did complain loudly about being tired a few times. I think his favorite part was running endlessly back and forth across the Hogwart’s Bridge and drinking Butter Beer. (Hint: it’s nonalcoholic and tastes like a cream soda ice cream float). So if you get a chance, I highly recommend it!

Advertisements