Experience all the magic of Harry Potter and the Wizarding World, just outside of London, at the Harry Potter Studio Tour. Make a visit to Gringotts bank, step onto the Hogwarts Express or walk through the Great Hall in this exciting tour through the actual sets from the famous films.
I visited the Harry Potter Studio Tour with my husband and my daughter, who was two at the time. I will share my experience of the Tour with you and tips for visiting in this article.
The Best Tour from London
This is the most comfortable way to visit the Studio. You don’t have to deal with challenging public transport, just board the bus in London and relax.
💡 Good to know: Due to high demand, we strongly recommend booking in advance (via the image above or the calendar below). It can get challenging to buy your desired tickets on short notice. However, you are free to try getting tickets later, of course.
Now, let’s answer the most important questions you might have:
Is It Worth It? 5 Reasons
The Harry Potter Studio Tour is worth it as it’s a brilliant place to visit for any fan of the books and films. Seeing the real sets that were used for filming and being able to take in the details and the work that went into making the films is an opportunity that you will not regret.
Our top 5 reasons to visit were the following highlights of the tour:
- Walking through the Great Hall, where the main Hogwarts scenes were filmed, is very special. The set is so complete and looks exactly as it does in the films.
- The Hogwarts Express is a very famous element of the Harry Potter books and films, and seeing it in person transports you (not literally) to the world of Harry Potter.
- The spooky Forbidden Forest, with its eerie atmosphere and creepy characters, such as Aragog the spider, brings the tour to life and adds a magical element.
- The Backlot is a great place to experience the full-size sets and a place where you can experience them in person. You can climb onto Hagrids motorbike or walk the Hogwarts iconic bridge.
- The behind-the-scenes elements of the tour are brilliant for people who have always wondered how they brought things from the books to life. Knowing that a large proportion of what was seen on screen, such as the whomping willow, were actual props and not computer-generated makes the films even more impressive.
As wonderful and fascinating as the tour is, there are a few small drawbacks to be aware of:
- The immersive green screen experiences such as the broomstick ride and the Hogwarts express cost extra on top of the ticket price.
- There can be long queues during popular times, such as school holidays and weekends. Ques are to be expected for the green screen experiences and to be able to enter the Backlot sets.
- The merchandise in the gift shop is very expensive compared to other Harry Potter merchandise you can find online.
Is the Tour Suitable for Non-fans?
The Harry Potter Studio Tour is worth it for everyone, not only the fans of the books and films. As there is so much technical, behind-the-scenes information on offer, it would be hard for anyone not to be fascinated or impressed by the attention to detail.
There is lots of information about how sets were constructed and how long each set took to make, so even if you have never read the books or watched the films, it would be hard to be bored on this Studio Tour.
Is the Tour Suitable for Toddlers?
Children are most certainly welcome at the Harry Potter Studio Tour, and it is suitable for toddlers, as there is plenty for them to enjoy. They will like the animatronic owls and griffins, and they can sit inside the Weasley flying car.
However, certain areas, such as the creatures department, where several life-like dummy heads are on display, could be scary for a young child, but these areas can be moved through quickly.
There are baby-changing facilities throughout the tour, and you can bring your own food to eat.
Is It Worth Visiting With Kids?
The Harry Potter Studio Tours is worth visiting with kids. It’s a great day out for big and small children, especially if they are fans of books and films. There are many areas of the tour that include interactive displays, and there is plenty for youngsters to enjoy.
Children aged 4 years and up can pick up a free Activity Passport from a member of staff. The passport includes a fun Golden Snitch hunt and other activities and puzzles. You can also collect stamps at certain points throughout the tour. Teens and adults can also pick up an Activity Passport and play along.
Teenagers will enjoy the green screen areas, such as the broomstick ride over Hogwarts or the greenscreen Hogwarts Express experience. The more spooky areas, such as the dark Forbidden Forest, will also be a highlight. The behind-the-scenes areas, such as the Creative Effects Department, may also be of interest to older children and teens.
Is a Booked Tour Worth It vs. Self-Driving?
If you are not familiar with the London area, we highly recommend a pre-booked tour. It’s hassle-free and very convenient: Warner Bros. Harry Potter Tours – London
The Harry Potter Studio Tour is located in Leavesden, a 20-minute drive from London. You can arrive at the Studio as part of a tour, via car or public transport.
Joining a pre-booked tour to visit the Harry Potter Studios is a great idea for anyone visiting from outside of London, whereas arriving by car is a great idea for those familiar with the London area.
Getting to the Studio Tour can be difficult, especially for people who are visiting the UK from abroad. Joining a tour is a great way to enjoy the Studio Tour, allowing you to relax without worrying about how to navigate the M25.
However, joining a tour does restrict how long you can stay in the studios. If you are happy to drive or even use public transport, you will have much more time to enjoy the studio at your own pace. However, traffic from London to Leavesden can be heavy.
The alternative is to catch a train and use the shuttle bus system from Wanstead Station. However, this can take longer than driving, and there are often long queues for the shuttle bus.
Do People Dress Up for the Harry Potter Studio Tour?
Many people dress up to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour, and fans can be seen in full Hogwarts school uniforms. Dressing up adds extra fun to your Harry Potter Studio Tour. However, it’s perfectly acceptable to go in your muggle clothes and equally enjoy the tour.
Is It Cold in the Harry Potter Studios?
It is not cold in the Harry Potter Studios, but the Backlot area of the tour is outside and includes sets such as the grand Hogwarts bridge. If you are visiting in winter, know there may be queues outside to access these sets. England is also known for rain during the spring and autumn/fall months, so come prepared with an umbrella.
Can You Eat Inside?
Inside the Harry Potter Studio Tour, the Backlot includes a canteen-style cafe area where you can eat. They offer sandwiches and cooked food. For Harry Potter fans, you can try a mug of the famous Butterbeer, a non-alcoholic bubbly sweet drink that both adults and children can enjoy.
What Is the Best Time of the Year to Visit?
The studio tour is open throughout the year and has seasonal events in summer, fall and winter.
The summer months are a great time to enjoy outdoor sets such as riding Hagrid’s motorbike. During October, the Harry Potter Studio Tour offers Halloween events, including a spooky adult-only tour. From November until January, you can experience Hogwarts in the snow and enjoy a magical festive atmosphere.
Tour Walkthrough | Every Set and Area Rated
Located in Leavesden, we arrived via public transport to the studio tour to be greeted by a giant dragon suspended from the foyer ceiling. This fierce dragon watched over us as we grabbed a drink and snack from the entrance cafe before beginning the tour.
The Great Hall
The Studio Tour began outside the grand doors of the Great Hall, and as the doors swept open, we were immediately transported to Hogwarts. Avid Harry Potter fans will be familiar with the Great Hall, where many of the main scenes in Hogwarts were filmed, including the iconic sorting hat scene.
As you move through the room, you can see the student uniform costumes arranged around the room and the teacher’s costumes, including Professor Dumbledore’s gown. The tables are set, and trinkets and props decorate the room.
My rating: Seeing this set was a great highlight for me as it is an iconic part of the Harry Potter books, and films. At certain times of the year, the great hall is transformed and decorated for Halloween and Christmas events, which I think would be even more amazing to experience.
The tour then continued to an area filled with the Interior Sets and props from the Harry Potter films. Here we were able to take a close look at Professor Snape’s potion classroom, where we could get a peek at all the magical bottles and potions tucked away on shelves. We also peered into Dumbledore’s office, spied on the Griffin staircase, and glimpsed the Gryffindor dormitory, where Harry Potter and his friends would often be found.
My attention was drawn to a great circular display containing all of the wands of each of the major characters, and this area was particularly wonderful as you could get a look at the stunning visual effects used during the films, such as the Chamber of Secrets snake door and the ferocious whomping willow. Although we could not touch or enter many of the sets, it is exciting to get an up-close glimpse of how they looked and worked.
Highlight: In this section of the tour, you can practice your wand skills in an interactive wand demonstration, where you can pretend to duel a fellow wizard. Here you will be given a wand and will go head to head with an interactive wizard display to test your wand reflexes.
You can also have your photo taken whizzing through the air on a broomstick. Perched in front of a green screen, you can be made to look like you are soaring through the Quidditch pitch and even have a video made to take home.
My rating: The Interior set section of the tour was very interesting. There are so many things to see you could easily spend an hour in this section exploring all the exhibits. The interactive green screen elements are a nice touch, although we did not want to queue up to take part in these.
The Forbidden Forest
The next section of the tour took us onto the Forbidden Forest. As you approach the Forbidden Forest, you are greeted by a darkened tree-lined entrance, which looks quite spooky. Our two-year-old daughter was a little apprehensive about entering this area but ended up enjoying being in such an immersive area.
Spooky surprises awaited us as we wandered through the forest and made a visit to Aragog, the spider, and his friends. This area has animatronic animals and uses faux mist to create a dark, mysterious atmosphere, as the Forbidden Forest is known for in the books and films. For those too afraid to wander the forest, there is a bypass that will keep you safe and sound.
My rating: The Forbidden Forest added a fun, immersive element to the tour and made you feel much more like you were a part of the film rather than looking at untouchable sets, like in the previous section. My daughter was a little scared of this area, but after she realized the animals were not real, she enjoyed going in and out of the forest area.
The Hogwarts Express
Once you have made it out of the Forbidden Forest, you are greeted with the grand Hogwarts Express. Here you can climb aboard the Hogwarts Express train and look at the carriages where Harry Potter and his friends rode to the great Hogwarts castle.
We enjoyed pretending to get onto Platform 9 and ¾, and there was another green screen experience where you can have your photo taken and made to look like you are riding the Hogwarts Express yourself.
My rating: It was great to see the Hogwarts Express in person. However, there were quite long queues to enter the train, and again you could only look through perspex into the carriage. As we had our daughter with us we chose not to queue up for this experience and instead enjoyed the platform and peeked through the windows of the train.
The next area of the tour was the Backlot area, which is an ample outdoor space, including some of the larger sets from the film. Here we had fun boarding the large double-decker Nightbus for a photo and took a peek inside Harry Potter’s muggle home on Privet Drive.
We also had a little wander through the crooked Hogwarts bridge and tried out the motorbike and sidecar that belonged to the beloved character, Hagrid.
Food: The Backlot includes a canteen-style cafe area where you can buy sandwiches and cooked food. For Harry Potter fans, you can try a mug of the famous Butterbeer, a non-alcoholic bubbly sweet drink that both adults and children can enjoy.
We bought some cooked food however, you can bring a packed lunch to the Studio Tour and eat it in the Backlot Cafe area. There is also a cafe and a hot drinks area at the entrance to the Studio Tours, where you can eat before starting the tour.
My rating: It was a lot of fun exploring the Backlot area and being able to actually enter some of the sets, although you could only stand in the doorway of the Nightbus, which was a little disappointing. We also were a little disappointed with the selection of food on offer and the queues for food, so I would advise taking a packed lunch.
The next section of the tour showcases the effects used to create the Harry Potter creatures from the films. This behind-the-scenes area displays many of the dummies and models used in the films, including the Selkie mermaids and many of the masks, wigs, and costumes that were worn by the actors.
We came face to face with a life-like model of Dobby, the house-elf, and an animatronic model of a weak Voldemort, thankfully safely enclosed in a glass cabinet. It was great to see how much intricate work went into creating these models and costumes.
My rating: This area was very interesting, and the models were both impressive and slightly creepy to look at. This area was a little less exciting than the previous sections, and maybe only avid fans of the Harry Potter films and books would enjoy this section.
Gringotts and the Vaults
Moving through the tour, we walked into a large open space that resembled a very luxurious bank. This was Gringotts goblin bank, and it was decorated with stunning glass chandeliers hung from the ceiling as we walked across the marble floor flanked by tall marble pillars.
Around the room, models of the Gringotts Goblins were posted, tending to their bank teller position, and on close inspection, they looked quite menacing and very lifelike.
The attention to detail transports you to the world of Harry Potter, and you feel like you are inside a true bank staffed by grumpy goblins.
We then walked out of the bank to the dark vaults of Gringotts, where wizarding treasures and trinkets are kept. Costumes and props used during the filming on these sets are posted around the room, and you really could spend a long time on this tour learning about each detail offered.
Tour tip: Within the vaults section of the tour, there is a holographic dragon video display that is very lifelike, guarding one of the vaults. As you stand at the entrance of the vault, what looks like a real 3D dragon shuffles forward and breathes fire at you. It is a brilliant immersive display however, it could be quite overwhelming for smaller children.
My rating: I really enjoyed visiting Gringotts bank, and it was another area that felt very immersive and real. It added a jolt of fun back into the tour, and there were a few areas where you could have your photo taken with the treasure.
Finally, we came to the famous Diagon Alley set, where Harry Potter got his first taste of the wizarding world in the books and films. As we walked down the cobbled street, we recognized familiar shops such as Ollivanders wand shop, Flourish, and Blotts book shop, and Eeylops Owl Emporium.
Unfortunately, we could not enter any of the shops themselves, and they are all empty except for the props that sit within. However, you can most certainly do some wizardly window shopping here.
My rating: It was brilliant to walk down such a well-known set however it was disappointing that we could only look through the windows of the shops.
The art department is one of the final areas of the tour and shows visitors some of the amazing work that went into transforming the imaginative books into the wonderful Harry Potter films. Concept sketches and large boards fill this area, showing you how the films came to life and the process they went through.
Anyone interested in film production will find this area fascinating, as you can peer into production designer Stuart Craig’s desk and see the architectural models that were used to create the stunning Harry Potter sets that were used in the films.
My rating: We didn’t spend too much time in this area, but it was very interesting to see the concept models and sketches.
The Model Room
The tour concludes with a large room containing the Hogwarts Castle model. This grand model was built during the production of the first Harry Potter film and has undergone several transformations as more parts of the castle were revealed via the books.
The impressive model was used for panoramic shots of the castle and it was very interesting to see such an expansive yet detailed model. At Christmas, the model is covered in snow and looks very impressive.
My rating: It was a great ending to the tour and a great way to see the full Hogwarts set in miniature.
Finally, we exited the Studio Tour via the great gift shop. Here you can select your very own wand and buy your very own Hogwarts school uniform. There is plenty of treasures to be found in the gift shop, including replica posters from the films, Harry Potter stationery, and Harry Potter-themed clothing for everyone, including babies.
One of the best treats from the gift shop has to be the sweets and chocolates from Honeydukes such as chocolate frogs, Bertie Bott’s every flavor jelly beans, and fizzing whizzbees. The gift shop is so large you are bound to find something wonderful to take home with you as a great memento from the Studio Tour.
Once you leave the gift shop, the tour is complete and you can make your way back to the muggle world with some magical memories.
Studio Tour Update
The Studio Tour is always adapting, and new sections are often being added. In July 2022, Professor Sprouts Greenhouse the included an interactive plant display, the Hogwarts courtyard fountain, and a 1:3 scale of the Weasley’s burrow, will become permanent additions to the tour.