In March I found out that I’m going on a work trip to London in the end of April. I was supposed to visit a friend in Switzerland during that same weekend, but when I sent a message to her asking whether she would like to meet me in London instead, she readily agreed. She said that she really wanted to see Platform 9 3/4 at King’s Cross and I got the idea to check the ticket availability at Warner Bros. Studios in London. The tickets especially for the weekends and holiday can be sold out months in advance, but luckily for us, there were still tickets for three days in April and one of the days was the last day of my work trip and there were still tickets left for 18:30, which I think is the last slot.
You know how you go through days being an adult and the moment your meeting ends, you jump into the taxi to go see Harry Potter? 😀 Yeah, it was somewhat funny that after serious strategy talk you tell everyone that no, I’m not going back to the airport, but going to see Harry Potter. 🙂
Anyway, I checked several times that I wouldn’t have time to take the public transportation, but taxi would take 40 min from where I was to the Warner Bros. Studios. So I get into the taxi, we start driving and I check my Google Maps app for the route. [I’ve had so many bad experiences with taxi drivers who don’t know where they’re going that nowadays I always follow the route on Google Maps to make sure that we’re going to the right place.] So I set the route in the app and it shows me that it will take 1 h and 50 min to get there! I almost panic. I left early, but with this time, I will be at the studios exactly at 18:30 if nothing else unexpected happens. In the end the trip took 1 h 40 min and I was there just in time, but I was sweating. My friend arrived earlier and got our tickets, so we could proceed to the entrance right away. It was a good reminder that in London you really need to reserve more time than you think for transportation. There is almost always some issue or event, which disrupts the traffic.
I had my cabin sized suitcase with me which had to be opened for inspection as every other bag and there was a cloakroom where I could store it for the duration of the visit, which was really convenient. There was a line first to see a short introduction film and then a guided walk into the Great Hall. These were the only areas where you were escorted and where you couldn’t stay as long as you wanted. But the studios area is huge! I was really surprised that it just kept going and going, so the hastiness in the beginning had no impact on full experience.
So we wandered around in the studios, which weren’t as crowded as I feared they would be. There was space just to stay and look at something and even a chance to take pictures without anyone else in the picture. 🙂
There was some interactive stuff and a possibility to take a picture against green screen, so it looked like you were playing quidditch on a broomstick, which were maybe more for kids. We just enjoyed the unbelievable amount of detail that was put into everything.
At the Burrow, you could mimic the moves of a knife on a touchpad and the knife in the kitchen would start moving. Same went for washing the pan and the knitwork, which was “knitting itself”.
Then there was a big section with the Forbidden Forest, which had moving spiders, spider webs, Hippogriff and a Patronus, which looked like a wet dog with lights on it. I have absolutely no idea how they managed to get this pathetic-looking thing to look all glowing and majestic in the movies. 😀
After the Forbidden Forest we moved onto the train station with the Hogwarts Express.
After this we continued outside where there were a lot of large props such as the Knight Bus and Dursleys’ house. Before we went outside, we had butterbeer ice cream, which was okayish. You could also have butterbeer drink, but I remember having one in Universal Studios in Orlando some years back and I really didn’t like it.
We continued to a large section of the tour where there were a lot of props and painstakingly made miniature models of castles and other things. My favorites were the incredibly large collection of hats and the Monster Book of Monsters, which were moving towards you and growling if you wiggled your fingers at it. 🙂
The final part of the tour was Diagon Alley with Gringotts Bank, Ollivanders, and other shops.
And the cherry on top was an amazing room-sized miniature model of Hogwarts.
I think we spent about three hours wandering around the studios. There is a bus, which goes between the Warner Bros. Studios and Watford Junction every 20 min. My friend took it here and back (£2,50) and I took it just one way (£2). Cash only. In order to take the bus to the studios, you need to have your printed confirmation that you already have tickets for that day and you need to show them to the driver when boarding. As the studios was about to close, the line was quite long, so the first bus that came became full just a few people from us and we had to wait for the next one. Also the next train was cancelled at Watford Junction. Luckily it was an unusually warm weather in London for this time of year, so we didn’t mind waiting.
I am not a *huge* Harry Potter fan and it’s been a while since I read the books, but I really enjoyed this studio tour. The amount of thought and detail put into everything was simply amazing. Also now that I think of it, there wasn’t that many families with children. It was probably because our tour was on Thursday night, but a big part of the people were couples or groups of friends.