Where: London, England
When: October 2017
Hotel: Victory Services Club
Why The Harry Potter Tour: It was John’s birthday, and I was trying to come up with something fun we could do for it. The Harry Potter Studio tour was the most obvious choice for my Potter-loving husband, but it was something that needed to be booked well in advance. This is an incredibly popular attraction so I booked the tour two months out. There are lots of options from straight-forward tickets with no guide to fully guided tours. It wasn’t cheap, but if we were going – we were going to get the full experience.
The Trip: We were just going to London for the weekend, and thankfully there is a direct flight from Stuttgart to London on Friday evening, returning Sunday evening on EasyJet airlines. The entire purpose of the trip was Harry Potter – so there was nothing else planned.
And here are a few important notes before you go:
- Book a guided tour if you can. The single tickets are cheaper, but as with any tour, you’ll learn more than you will on your own. It also included skip-the-line access and train tickets to-from London.
- Whether or not you book a tour, get the earliest time slot available. You don’t want to rush and there is so much to see. We did the guided tour, and then our ticket allowed us to go back in again…which we did, because while on the tour, we didn’t get a chance to do the photo op sections or get all the pictures we wanted. We literally spent all day there – even if you aren’t a die-hard Potter fan (me), it is so fun. Give yourself all the time you can.
- Directions on how to get there are available on the website. The fully guided tour includes a return train ticket as well as a guide that gets your from London to the studio, which is in Watford – outside of London. I missed this in the directions, and we got to the studio by ourselves via train (very easy, but make sure to get on the express one that gets you there in 20 minutes). At the train station, there is a bus (decorated in all Harry Potter, you can’t miss it), that takes you right to the studio in about 15 minutes.
- Bring plenty of the following: cash (for the bus), a credit card (for the awesome souvenir store), extra camera batteries/phone chargers (for all of the pictures), a printed copy of your confirmation, and snacks (if you don’t want to buy at the cafes in the studio).
Because we arrived on our own, we had to wait for our tour group, so we scoped out the souvenir store and grabbed a coffee at the cafe. Once our group arrived, we were all given headsets and were ushered into a cinema area. You’ll watch a brief film where Harry, Ron and Hermione introduce you to the tour, and then the magic begins!
What was super cool is that our tour guide asked if there were any birthdays happening, and John was able to open the doors into the first stop of the tour – the Great Hall! It was super cool, with Halloween decorations hanging throughout. When you do go, give the chance for the people to move out and you can get pictures of the empty hall in all its glory.
From there, you are ushered into the wide world of Harry Potter. I enjoy Harry Potter, but my knowledge level doesn’t come close to John’s, but it was so cool to learn the tricks of the film and see actual stages used in the movies. You get to see the potions classrooms, the Weasley’s home, Dumbledoor’s office (with the sorting hat), walk Diagon Alley, sit on the Hogwarts Express, pretend to run through Platform 9 3/4, see Dobi, costume, drink Butterbeer and sit and marvel at the actual castle. This is probably the best tour I have been on, and we took advantage of everything offered. It was a blast.
After the first tour, you turn in your head phones and you can either leave, or go back through. Of course we opted to go back in – there is so much to see, it is impossible to fully take it in on the tour, so I highly recommend going back through if your ticket allows. Plus, you’ll get to stop at all the photo ops set up throughout. It is really well done and should not be rushed through!
We ended in the souvenir shop – and be prepared…they have everything a Potterhead could want and more. We were probably in there over an hour, and there were lots of items bought in that store. But after the whole tour, it’s hard not to get caught up in all of the fun and want items to remember it by. We also bought the pictures taken inside the studio as well.
We made our way back to London late in the day, and thankfully, our hotel was right by this amazing Lebanese restaurant. Easy and delicious – which is good, because we were beat!
The Trip: The Harry Potter Studio tour is fantastic. If you are in London, and traveling with anyone who loves Harry Potter, do not miss this. We had the best time, and it was the perfect way to celebrate John and his birthday! 🙂