My Trip to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
Today I'm talking through my trip to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London I took in July 2019. While I had visited before, this time was special as we were taking a trip for my mum's birthday, so we went for a super deluxe experience!
If you are unaware, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in London is an experience you can take where you get the opportunity to walk around the Harry Potter sets, see how the films were made, and (most importantly) buy merchandise! If you're a Harry Potter fan, I seriously can't recommend it enough!
Warning: spoilers for the Warner Bros. experience ahead!
We began our journey by taking the six hour drive down to the nearby town of St. Albans. It's a bit of a trek to get down there from Edinburgh, but totally worth it, especially if you have snacks and playlists to keep you occupied!
St. Albans is a pretty amazing place. Set in the county of Hertfordshire, it's a beautiful Roman city with a stunning cathedral and beautiful parks. We began by checking into our hotel, the beautifully historic St. Michael's Manor, before immediately heading out to explore.
We began by visiting St. Albans Cathedral (which was free to enter). This was absolutely stunning; not only was it ginormous, but it was a total work of art. We couldn't believe our luck that it was something you could just wander around for free. I highly recommend at least popping in if you're in the area. While we did not partake, it looked like there were tons of things to do nearby as well, including an outdoor cinema that was taking place.
We then took a walk around Verulamium Park. Not only is this a beautiful place to walk, but it still has the relics of the Roman city that once stood there. If you're a history buff this would be an amazing place to spend the afternoon! We did a round trip walk of the park, stopping off at the Verulamium Museum; a site dedicated to the Roman history of St. Albans. While not a large museum, it had some great exhibits and we spent a good bit of time in there.
From there we slowly wandered back to our hotel, which was not far from any of these attractions. The hotel and its grounds were amazing; there were lots of places to walk around, as well as a lounge to sit in. Our room was large and beautiful, with two separate bathroom spaces which was nice considering we were sharing a room. Overall I would recommend staying at the hotel. My only criticism is that there was a wedding going on that night, and it was incredibly loud until very early in the morning, causing us to get little sleep. If you do wish to stay, I recommend asking the hotel if they have a wedding on, and if so, consider staying elsewhere.
We decided to wander into the centre of town for dinner, and stopped at an Italian place. There was music going on in the square outside; it felt very summery and European! I recommend taking the time to come into town in the evening; it was full of hustle and bustle and had a lovely atmosphere.
Day two arrived and it was time to visit the Harry Potter sets! After a lovely breakfast, we checked out of the hotel and drove the short twenty minute drive down to Leavesden Studios. It was an incredibly easy drive, and the car park at the Studios is large and spacious and it's very easy to grab a space.
The studios themselves are incredible. Before you've even got into the actual tour there's so much to see and do, including a magical themed coffee shop, and a massive dragon dangling from the ceiling!
When you first arrive you show your ticket and are ushered into what is essentially a waiting area for the film you watch before you enter. This waiting area has the cupboard under the stairs for you to look at, and posters showing the evolution of the film franchise. From there, we watch a short film from the actors talking about their experience of making the film, as well as the impact the books and films have had on society, before we are revealed to be right in front of the entrance to the Great Hall! It's a fantastic reveal, and allows some children (normally those who are dressed up) to open the doors into the most impressive set in the entire place.
They've recreated the Great Hall exactly as it looked in the film. You get to spend a fair bit of time in here as well, looking over all the details and the costumes on display. Eventually you are ushered out in order for the next group to come in and see it without other people there, so don't hang about too much!
From there you are left without a tour guide to explore the rest of the studios at your own pace. There's an insane amount to see; I've been several times and I've definitely not seen it all. There's really something for every interest here, including makeup, wigs, costumes, set design, props, special effects, etc. There's also plenty of photo opportunities, including a Quidditch one, and one on the Hogwarts Express.
My personal favourite sets include the Gryffindor Common Room and the new Forbidden Forest where spiders come down from the ceiling! They've truly done an exceptional job.
Halfway through the tour, there's a small Hogwarts Express-themed gift shop, a cafe where you can get butterbeer, and an outdoor courtyard where Privet Drive sits, as well as the Knight Bus and the flying car.
From there, you enter into part two of the tour, which is another hanger sized studio. This half tends to focus more on how they made the films, including films and displays of the animatronics, and detailed signs on creature design. For me, the highlights of this half are definitely the Gringotts dragon experience (which is terrifying) and the large model of Hogwarts right at the end which never fails to bring a tear to my eye.
Finally, as with all experiences, you exit through the gift shop. This is no ordinary gift shop though; it's huge. It's really several shop in one; with a section dedicated to the Dark Arts, to Honeydukes sweets, to animals, to Quidditch, etc. I would allot a fair amount of time just to look through everything the shop has to offer!
From there, you exit back out into the main hall with the dragon. We took the time before heading home to stop off at the restaurant, which looks like you're sitting under the candles of the Great Hall. The menu is limited, but the food was really nice.
And from there, we started our long drive back home. While it was a short trip, we had a fantastic time. If you're a Harry Potter fan I highly recommend taking the pilgrimage. Even if you're not, but interested in movie making, it's totally worth the time. I would allocate a good 3-4 hours at least to explore, as there's so much to see and do. I can't wait until I take my next trip there!
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Until next time,