Having lived in London for most of my life, I’ve always taken for granted what an incredible city it is. Lately I’ve been trying to be more of a tourist in my own city and have been exploring some of the sights I walk past every day. Just before Christmas I took a trip to one of my favourite places in London, the Warner Brothers Studio Tour in Leavesden.
Anyone who knows me at all knows I am a massive Harry Potter geek and was more than a little obsessed with the series growing up. As such, it should come as no surprise that this was my third visit to the tour but that didn’t make it any less magical, especially as this time it was a family trip I took with my parents to see Hogwarts in the Snow, which saw the sets decked out with a bit of Christmas flair.
The tour allows you to explore the sets of the iconic films that many of us grew up watching, beginning with the Great Hall, which triggered a massive wave of both nostalgia and excitement as soon as I entered. In here, the guide explained some movie magic about the enchanted ceiling and the never ending feasts before showing us the set of the Yule Ball which had been created at the top of the hall. The Great Hall remains one of my favourite sets at the Studio Tour, but is closely followed by Dumbledore’s Office, the Gryffindor Common Room and the Burrow. Not only do your get to explore all of the sets here, but you can also find the costumes worn by the cast throughout the ten years of filming as well as wigs, props, and much more.
Be warned, even after entry the tour is incredibly expensive and will see you forking out a small fortune for food and trinkets from the gift shop. My advice would be to pack a lunch and set a budget before heading off, especially if you’re with children. That being said, it’s definitely worth trying a glass of butter-beer on your visit, particularly as Leavesden Studios is the only place in Europe that it’s served!
Photo opportunities can be found everywhere you turn throughout the tour, including the experience of riding a broomstick (worth the wait and the money for the memory!), the warped perspective photo in Hagrid’s Hut, and a picture of you and your travel companions on the Hogwarts Express. My top tip would be to try your luck and ask the staff to take a picture on your camera instead of one of theirs – in most cases you’ll save a lot of money.
Following a trip down Diagon Alley and an expedition into the Forbidden Forest, a new addition to the tour which I would suggest avoiding if you don’t like spiders (worth it to see Buckbeak though? I’d say so!), the highlight of my day came from none other than Hogwarts itself. Covered in snow, the huge model castle is set aside in a room on its own allowing visitors to wander around and study it at their own pace. I personally found the detail on it astounding, and was shocked to find out that all the aerial shots of the castle are filmed on the model castle rather than using CGI.
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour never gets old for me. It takes me back to a place of pure ecstasy and joy that only a child can feel, as I’m sure it would for many Potter fans of my generation. Despite being a little pricey, you more than get your money’s worth and I would urge anyone travelling to London to take a day out and visit. Let me know what you thought of your trip in the comments!