Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere.Albert Einstein
The Harry Potter series were the books that got me not only into loving fantasy, but refueled my love of reading. I read sporadically and loved books, but I hadn’t found that book that sparked my interest and made me want to hunt down more books that kept me up at night with my eyes glued to the pages.
Naturally, I knew I needed to visit the HP Studios after it was built right outside of London. I was living in Leicester at the time and was only a 1.5 hour train ride away. It’s been 9 years since I visited and I still think about my trip there.
If you love Harry Potter, this place is for you. If you love movie magic and behind the scenes peaks, this place is for you. If you love ridiculously cool props and set pieces you can explore, this place is for you. Unless you hate TV and film in general, this place is for you.
When I went, I had to buy my ticket 3 months in advance. Yep. The wait was THAT long.
I just checked and you can now buy tickets for this week! Maybe that’s because of the pandemic or maybe the hype has cooled off. Keep an eye on availability in the future since it will probably change drastically when the world opens up a bit more.
Adult tickets will cost you 47GBP, roughly $65.
Journey Through the Series
As soon as you walk in to the self-guided tour, you’re in the HP universe. In fact, you’re plopped right into HP and the Sorcerer’s Stone. You can visit the cupboard under the stairs built to the exact size. It’s important to know that everything on display was used in the film. There are almost zero replicas. I loved how authentic that made everything.
The tour has wide open rooms featuring lots of props and clothing arranged about. In one of the first rooms you can look into the Mirror of Erised, view all of the wands, and so much more. It’s just a taste of what’s to come and will get you super excited to see more.
There are also eye-opening, dramatic moments. Entering the Great Hall was one of those. The Great Hall was always featured very near the beginning in each book and is an essential stop in the tour. Candles float from the ceiling, the tables are arranged by house, and it’s just as magical as the movies.
From the Great Hall you’ll set off exploring the classrooms, prop rooms, the Burrow, and so much more that I won’t spoil for you.
Behind the Scenes
Not only do you get to see the finished rooms, props, and costumes, but you explore the making of everything from face masks of goblins to the sketches and schematics of Hogwarts castle to the green screen and mechanical broomstick for the quidditch scenes.
Since I’d already seen the props, rooms, etc before I was obviously excited to see them, but seeing the behind the scenes work that went into creating these epic sets and characters was next level for me. I won’t give away any spoilers, but I could’ve spent all day in those rooms.
While you can walk along Diagon Alley, you can’t explore inside the stores. I feel like they missed a unique opportunity to have even just a handful open to the public.
Taking It Outside
The indoor tour of the studios encompassed about 75% of the tour, but that doesn’t mean you should miss the outdoor attractions. Explore Privet Drive, take a look at the giant chess pieces, and sip on some insanely delicious butter beer.
Sadly, there was no Hogsmeade either. I would’ve spent all my money on candy if they had had a somewhat accurate candy store like they did in the books.
At the end of the tour of the studio you walk into a room with a MASSIVE model of Hogwarts castle itself. There’s nothing else in the room and it was magical. The lights slowly changed colors and bathed the castle in a surreal light while the movies’ music played softly in the background. It was such a highlight that I didn’t realize the tour had come to an end.
You can’t go through an epic tour like this and expect the gift shop to be a sad afterthought. Normally, I think gift shops are obvious money grabs and don’t have a lot of heart or personality. While it’s still a money grab (because it’s a business, duh) it oozed personality and felt like another stop on the tour. I never once felt pressured to buy any of the (highly) priced items.
Full disclosure, I bought a wand and it still sits in my office proudly displayed. There was a massive variety of things to buy, but I’m not big on buying a ton. I’d rather have photos and buy something special to me, which is exactly what I did.
I cannot recommend Harry Potter Studios enough. The price tag is high, but you get your money’s worth and so much more. These books changed my life and got me immersed into reading and I’ll forever have a connection with them. Getting to see the sets up close, how everything was made, and more was such a wonderful experience that any Harry Potter fan will connect with.
The next time you’re in London, make sure to book your tickets and let your inner kid loose, leave your muggle mentality at home, and spend a few hours exploring the magical world we all wished we could’ve joined.