Three days into our UK road trip the day my 9 year old twin daughters had been eagerly awaiting finally arrived. We’d been invited to Harry Potter Studios or as they kept calling it Harry Potter World and today was the day! In my previous posts HERE & HERE I told you we were staying at the Holiday Inn Express in Slough which is a 30 minute drive from Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.
We had a hire car so we would be driving but read on and I’ll tell you how to get there using public transport and everything else you muggles could possibly need to know (without giving away too much) including our ultimate tips for Harry Potter Studios!
First things first it’s not an amusement park like Universal Studios, there are no rides. It’s a tour through the actual sound stages used to shoot all eight Harry Potter movies, it’s filled with props, costumes and some of the most iconic sets that were used over ten years of filming.
There are two enormous studios separated by an external backlot which features Hogwarts Bridge and Number 4 Privet Drive among plenty of other incredible props from Harry Potter sets. Both of my sons were mesmerised by seeing the real Hogwarts Express, not only seeing it but also getting to board it to see inside the carriages.
The icing on the cake for them was the fact that it blew its whistle and let out steam, making a perfect photo opportunity.
Located in Levesden 20 miles outside London just off the M1 & M25 motorways, it’s easily accessible by public transport.
How do I get to Harry Potter Studios?
The closest train station is Watford Junction approximately 20 minutes travel time from London by train, if you are leaving from Euston Station it costs £10.90 per adult and £5.45 per child return, under 5’s are free. You can also use your Oyster card see helpful post for public transport travel & Oyster Cards HERE.
for this journey. From Watford Junction you can get an official Harry Potter Tour bus direct to the studios costing £2.50pp return (cash only). As soon as you step onto the bus your tour starts as they play a short film about the tour during the 15 minute journey. Please note that you must have pre-booked your tickets to Harry Potter Studios online and produce your print out before being allowed to board the bus. They recommend getting to Watford Junction 45 minutes before your allocated time of entry into the studios.
You can also take a Golden Tours Harry Potter branded bus direct from central London but when I was researching it I found it to be very expensive. Transport only costs £31 per adult, £28 per child aged 5-15 years, £19 per infant aged 3-4 years and free for under 2’s. There is an option to purchase transport and studio tickets priced at £66 per adult, £61 per child aged 5-15 years, £20 per infant* aged 3-4, under 2 years old are free. *Transport only as admission is free to studios for this age group. If you’re visiting with your family this option would work out extremely expensive.
If you’re driving like I was simply input post code WD25 7LR into your sat nav as I was using a really old sat nav that wouldn’t recognise that post code, I input our destination as Leavesden and then just followed the brown signs from the motorway the 3 miles to the studios. If you’re driving you must produce a print out of your pre-booked tickets to gain access to the car park which is free of charge. They recommend you arrive 20 minutes before your timed admission slot.
As I mentioned we were invited so I didn’t pay for our tickets however I have researched it quite a lot and can’t find anywhere selling tickets cheaper than direct with Warner Bros. Studio Tours themselves. Adult tickets are £35, children are £27 with under 4’s free of charge; they have discounted family tickets available and a host of other package deals on their website.
Is it worth it?
Absolutely, tickets are good value especially considering the price of Legoland tickets. I know you might say that Legoland is a theme park with rides so it’s bound to cost more. I understand that point but my twins aged 9 actually preferred Harry Potter Studios, my 8 & 4 year old sons preferred Legoland.
The only reason I compare it to Legoland is that we visited there the day before. If we hadn’t received complimentary tickets I would have bought some anyway as it was top of our list of things to do in London (see HERE for some ideas).
Stone Travel Top Tips for Harry Potter Studios
· Watch the movies again before you visit, we did and my children were enthralled as we toured the studios.
· You must pre-book your tickets online; they do not sell tickets at the studios.
· Book your tickets as far in advance as possible as time slots sell out really fast.
· Opt for the earliest time available on the day you want to go. They recommend allowing 3 ½ hours to complete your visit but you are self guided after the first 20 minutes. My advice is to get there early and take your time as there’s a lot to see.
· All visitors require a ticket even though under 4’s are admitted free they still need a ticket, if you’ve forgotten to book your infant a ticket online they’ll issue you with one at the studios.
· Take the train from Euston Station to Watford Junction then the Harry Potter themed shuttle bus. The bus direct from London is way overpriced and can be delayed in traffic.
· Plan to arrive at least 20 minutes before your scheduled time, even if there are no queues outside there will be one in the Lobby.
· If you are late they will try to accommodate you but can’t always do this especially during peak season.
· They have Starbucks and a café in the lobby.
· Make the most of your wait in the queue and sign into their free WiFi.
· Use the free cloak room facility to store heavy bags.
· During summer months also leave your coat there as the backlot external part of the tour isn’t that long.
· It’s worth paying the extra £4.95pp or £12.95 for up to 4 people for a digital guide. I saw how much information was on them as other people were using them. Unfortunately I didn’t opt for them on the day as I was visiting with 4 children on my own so I didn’t want to be too distracted!
· If it’s your child’s birthday be sure to mention it at the information desk so they can get a free birthday badge.
· Ask questions as the staff are really friendly and knowledgeable; they have lots of fun facts and secrets to tell, just ask.
· I always recommend taking a picnic on days out as food can be expensive at attractions but I was nicely surprised to find the prices in the Backlot Café were very reasonable, starting at just £3.95 for soup and bread which my daughters devoured. Even the soft drinks were cheaper than in the hotel we were staying in.
· You can bring your own food and eat it in the Backlot Café seating area.
· Of course you have to try the Butterbeer but I’d recommend only getting one to give everyone in your party a taste also spend the extra couple of pounds for a souvenir mug as it’s great in photos. Bring a plastic bag with you for this or buy one in the shop at the end of the tour for 5p.
· Wands start at £25 alternatively you can buy a chocolate wand for £6.
· I always buy a Christmas ornament for out travel tree when we go away, I was delighted to find some gorgeous decorations in the shop starting at just £10.
· The last bus back to Watford Junction leaves 20 minutes before studio closing time.
Stone Travel Verdict?
There’s no describing the magical look on my boys faces as we rounded the bend to see the Hogwarts Express sitting at platform 9 & ¾, for me that says it all really. You really don’t have to be a huge Harry Potter fan to thoroughly enjoy a visit to Warner Bros. Studios. We were blown away with the sheer amount of props and costumes on display, we’ll visit again in a couple of years time as I’m sure my children will enjoy it every bit as much second time around.
Have you been to Harry Potter Studios? Have you any top tips of your own to share?
** Disclaimer **
We received free admission
to the studios in return for
social media mentions while we were there.
I was not asked to write this review,
nor was I paid to write it.
All opinions are my own and, as usual,
would never be swayed by a free ticket or payment!