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Enjoying a butterbeer at the Making of Harry Potter

Travel Tips For London: Seeing Harry Potter

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Harry Potter and his adventures have a cherished place in the hearts of my kids and me. Harry has accompanied us by way of books on tape on our many road trips, from Washington D.C. to New Orleans, Boston, Ohio, Florida and many other places. We have sat in the car long after we’ve reached our destination to listen to a particularly exciting part, and I frequently listened ahead because I had to know what happened next. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire was the first PG-13 movie I allowed my kids to see, and the only one until the next Harry Potter movie came out. And yet, I was happily surprised by the number of tours and sites in London associated with the Harry Potter movies. Of course London would be the top travel destination to be immersed in Harry Potter’s world!

While there are a number of tours offered in London that will take you to the sites around the city that were featured in the movie, I decided that our trip couldn’t be all Harry Potter all the time. We decided to make the relatively short trek to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour London in Leavesden, which is about 20 miles northwest of London. The studio was the production home of all of the Harry Potter films and now allows visitors inside to see many of the sets, props and costumes used in the films. Tickets can only be purchased online and a limited number are sold for any given day, so definitely plan ahead. Various ticket packages are available, including just a single admission ticket to get in or a Complete Studio Tour Package which includes your ticket, an audio guide and a souvenir guidebook. I purchased one of these tour packages, and I thought that was enough for all of us. My children were so fascinated by the sights that they had no interest in listening to the audio tour.

The trip up to the studio was a fun and important part of the trip. I firmly believe in traveling via public transport whenever possible when we’re in other cities. It’s a great way to experience a city the way one would if living there. The concierge at Hilton London Tower Bridge was extremely helpful and printed out our route which would take us via the underground to the train station to a bus to the studio. Fortunately, the hotel is just a few minutes’ walk from the London Bridge tube station. Getting tickets was a little tricky, mainly because they no longer sell children’s tickets via the ticket machines. You must buy these in person, although children under 11 are free. From London Bridge, we traveled to Euston station where we transferred to the train up to Watford Junction. I always feel some trepidation using public transport in a new city for the first time, but I found everything to be clearly labeled and we didn’t make a single misstep. (Although my daughter did ask if we were lost when I was studying the signs. We weren’t!). At Watford Junction, you then pick up a shuttle bus that is solely for the Warner Brothers Studio. You cannot miss it! A double decker bus painted with scenes from the movie tends to stand out.

Travel Tips for visiting Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

Enjoying the train ride to Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.

Your tickets come with an assigned entry time. If you arrive early, and I highly recommend that you do so, there’s a nice café and of course the gift shop to wander though. Make sure to pick up a free Activity Passport for each of your kids. In it, they can collect stamps throughout the tour, and it gives hints on where to find snitches throughout the site.

The tour is mostly self-guided, with some introductory material at the entrance as well as at your first stop in the Great Hall. After that, you can wander at your own pace. The first major stop of the tour is in the Great Hall, which has many of the props and costumes from the movies. More sets and props follow (I don’t want to give them away), with a green screen photo opportunity in the flying car and on a broom. A small café midway through the tour offers butterbeer and a few other treats. The tour ends with a walk through Diagon Alley (loved it!), then winds around the beautiful Hogwart’s castle model.

Travel tips for visiting Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

Ice Sculpture from the Yule Ball at the Making of Harry Potter.

Stepping into the Great Hall was an experience we won’t forget. We’ve since been watching a marathon of the Harry Potter movies and we love pointing out the sets and props we got to see in person. I highly recommend this trip to fans of the movies and for any family looking for a family friendly activity.

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Andrea is a single mom in Arlington, Virginia with a 15-year-old son and a 13-year-old daughter. Her children took their first trips when they were just four…

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