Best Ever Tips for days out at the Harry Potter Studios Tour

Flea at the Harry Potter Studio Tour

Flea and I first went to the Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio tour back in 2012, just before it opened. And we LOVED it.

Since then we’ve visited the Studio Tour an amazing FIVE more times – which should tell you just how much we love it there.

Each time we’ve visited, there have been some new attractions and exhibits to see, sometimes seasonal events. It’s always new!

For this visit Flea and I were joined by some friends – Annie (11), Harry (8) and Jim (46). I’d tell you how old my sister-in-law is, but she might shoot me.

The Studio Tour is essentially two huge sound stages and a back lot.

Flea at the Harry Potter Studio Tour

As a visitor, you can see many of major interior and exterior sets for the Harry Potter movies, along with props, costumes and special effects displays. You can even have a go at riding a broomstick of a flying car, thanks to the magic of green screen technology. I don’t want to spoil too many surprises but if you’re curious, there are some photos from our trips to Hogwarts over on the blog Facebook page.

Top Tips for a day out at the Harry Potter Studios 

Book Early in the Day

First up, you need to book ahead, and book a timed ticket slot.

Harry Potter tour, Warner Bros Studios

Flea, visiting the Warner Bros Studio Tour at the opening in 2012

Bit of nerdy trivia – the Studio Tour admits 590 new guests every hour, but because people like to dawdle, not all of those people will leave the tour in the 2.5 hours Warner Bros estimates you’ll spend wandering around. You can EASILY spend four hours here, longer if you stop to eat at the on-site restaurant.

So as the day goes on, the number of people in the tour gets higher and higher. By the time we left at 4pm it was extremely busy and a bit chaotic in the main lobby. If you want the best experience, my advice is to book early.

Try and Visit at Christmas

The Harry Potter Studio Tour is amazing whenever you go, but we reckon that the most special time to visit? Is Christmas. Hogwarts in the Snow has some wonderful special exhibits. We’ve found it’s a lovely way to make the time between Christmas and New Year feel REALLY special.

Warner Bros Harry Potter Studio Tour

That said, the Harry Potter Studio Tour has regular seasonal promotions. We had a lot of fun visiting at Halloween, and also during the Back to School period.

Pick up Potter Passports

When you arrive on site, pick up Potter Passports for your children. They’re free, and include a treasure hunt for kids.

Let them ‘stamp’ their passports at key points around the tour. It’s a little thing, but all three of the kids with us thought they were great fun, and they make for a great souvenir.

Go Left, Go Left

When you go into the tour, you’ll be taken first into a dark room with screens on the side. If you can, head for the door on the far wall, left hand side and stand there. This ensures you’ll get the best seats in the house for the next stage of the experience.

Spot the Details

The first set you see is The Great Hall. My favourite thing is spotting all the things that never really got featured in the films but were made anyway.

The attention to detail in the Potter movies was amazing. Check out the carvings on the back of the giant fireplace, the house point counting machines behind the teachers’ table, and the detailing on the pitchers and crockery on the long refectory tables.

Ride a Broomstick

When touring the interior sets, don’t miss the opportunity to ride a broom in front of a green screen. Don’t be afraid to REALLY over-act. The photos are so much more fun if you adopt a terrified face, or an evil face (in Flea’s case) which can be super-imposed on to a cloudy sky with the Dark Mark leering in one corner.

Another quick tip: don’t wear a straight skirt, everyone waiting in line will be able to see straight up it when you sit on the broom.

If you prefer not to ride the broom there’s an option to go in the flying car or be pictured on a ‘wanted’ poster. A little later in the tour, there’s a really fun green screen experience on a train, which makes for the BEST photos on the tour, I think. The train green screen is opposite the Hogwarts Express and is SO much more fun!

Ask Questions

Be sure to ask the guides lots of questions because they REALLY do know their stuff. We’ve found they love to share their geeky knowledge, from which buttons to press to make the flying car invisible, to which masks were worn by which death eaters.

Food at the Tour

Halfway through the tour is an huge cafeteria selling a range of hot and cold food. There’s also a smaller stand where you can get JUST Butterbeer.

We found the food really good quality, and can recommend the fresh sandwiches, hot dogs and chicken goujons for kids. I might have also stolen Flea’s Macaroni Cheese. It does get very chaotic though, and it can be hard to find a seat, so allow some extra time if you’re going to eat on-site.

You can also bring your own picnic and eat it outside at one of the picnic areas. I’d recommend this because the queues for food are long, and can be slow – although the queue for just Butterbeer is much shorter.

Butterbeer tastes… Interesting

If your kids want to taste Butterbeer, I’d recommend bringing along a bottle of water, too. It’s an acquired taste (shall we say) and none of our three kids liked the taste of their Butterbeer! It’s quite sweet, a cross between butterscotch and caramel.

For my money, the frozen Butterbeer ice cream is more palatable. If you buy the souvenir cups for your drinks, don’t forget to wash them at the supplied water trough, because they’re really sticky! Oh, and the ice cream comes in a very cute souvenir cup.

Harry Potter Studio Tour

Save Plenty of Time for the Second Half

Save plenty of time for the second half of the tour. This covers all the creatures and monsters of the films, and the castle itself. You also get the chance to walk up Diagon Alley. There is a lot to see and my prediction is that you’ll spend at least four hours on the tour, all told.

There is a room holding a scaled-down model of the castle, which was used for all those sweeping exterior shots. While it’s fun to gaze at the model in awe, the touchscreen computer displays allow you to do so much more. Our kids learned so much about how the films were put together, and what goes into making certain shots and effects happen.

Budget for the Gift Shop

Prepare your kids for the Harry Potter Studio Tour gift shop. We set our kids a budget before we arrived on the day, so they knew what they could spend. That’s important when a Hogwarts school jumper costs almost £60 and a set of robes is £79! Even the wands are around £25 each.

Of course, the quality reflects the price and there are some truly wonderful souvenirs, but you could easily spend a fortune here. Some of the best budget buys are things like magnets and key-rings, and of course chocolate (but avoid the jars of fancy packaged Smarties at £9 a jar). There is also a really sweet new range of charm bracelets that children can add to over time.

Get Photos on the Train Platform

There are LOADS of places to have photos done around the Harry Potter Studio Tour. The most popular is by the broomstick and flying car green screens. The queue here is always MASSIVE.

Here’s a top tip – if you wait and have your photos printed around the corner by the train platform, the queue is way smaller, and you can get virtually all your photos printed here.

Harry Potter Studio Tour Tips

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Harry Potter Studio Tour Tips

About 

Sally is a full-time blogger and founder of the Tots100, Trips100, Foodies100 and HIBS100 communities, along with the MAD Blog Awards. She spends a bit too much time on the Internet. She's also a very happy Mum to Flea, the world's coolest ten year old.

22 Comments

  1. 11th August 2013 / 8:03 pm

    Forgot my plastic bag (ruined handbag) and didn’t get a frickin’ passport! Damn it.

    Ruth, childless, aged 30.

    One day, I am sure these tips will prove very valuable to me – if any future offspring are Potter mad like their Father! Oh and I’m inevitably left paying for and carrying all the paraphernalia that comes with trips like this.

    Nice post. One (rather vital, IMO) thing I’d add is:

    11. You really don’t have to be a Potter fan to thoroughly enjoy this experience. I’ve watched just one of the films (sorry, don’t hate me…) and that was only because my now husband then organised it as a date in the early days. I bought him tickets as part of a birthday prezzie (in the hope he’d take his sister). But we went together earlier this year and it was truly ace. As you say, I was totally blown away by the attention to detail in each and every single one of these films. “The next stage of the experience” you reference in 3. made me have so, so much new found respect for Potter. It really was an unexpectedly awesome day out. And yeh, like a total sucker, I bought a chocolate wand…

    • 11th August 2013 / 8:43 pm

      My two bough chocolate wants too, as they were much less expensive and Harry Potter temporary tattoos at £2.99 a pack!

  2. 11th August 2013 / 8:22 pm

    Good tips! We went recently (for my birthday) and I was beyond excited. We booked an early slot, mid week, during term time and it was perfect. Took us about 3 hours to get round. Don’t forget to book your digital guide as this gives so much insider info. I can’t wait to go back and I adore my Hedwig puppet. She is gorgeous!
    Threebecomefour recently posted..Some DaysMy Profile

  3. Slummy single mummy
    22nd August 2013 / 10:44 am

    Great tips! The setting a budget thing is so important. We foolishly went recently when my 18 year old had just been paid from her very first job and she ‘accidentally’ spent about £70 on a pair of pyjamas and a Hedwig back pack…

  4. Vanessa Barratt
    16th March 2016 / 7:48 pm

    I’m so glad I spotted your blog, thank you for the awesome tips. Especially the bag for your butterbeer cup (do you think it will fit in a large ziploc?) We’re going next week for my 30th and I’m beyond excited. I think I’ll definitely have to leave the credit cards at the hotel though lol

  5. Kate
    10th April 2017 / 8:48 pm

    Thanks this was so helpful!

  6. Kat
    20th April 2017 / 6:26 pm

    Do you recommend the regular tour or the deluxe tour and why?
    Thanks!

    • 20th April 2017 / 8:56 pm

      Personally, I think the Deluxe Tour is very expensive, unless you’re planning to buy photos/guidebook/hot lunch etc. Given a regular ticket is £39 and a deluxe ticket is £199, the extra seems a LOT for no extra experiences.

  7. Carl
    7th May 2017 / 1:22 pm

    Hi, are you able to take your own photos at all the “scenes” etc.? or do they try to sell you loads of photos of your tour?

    Also, rather than the “Deluxe” package (which isn’t even in our price range), is it worth upgrading to the “Complet” package rather than the standard package? (It says you save £4.95 for this but not sure what you’re getting extra or where that saving is from?)

    • 7th May 2017 / 5:59 pm

      You can take your own photos anywhere except for the broomstick/car etc – their cameras are set up in specific positions on the roof rigging to get a specific photo.

      • Carl
        8th May 2017 / 6:23 pm

        OK, and how much do they sting you for those pics then?

        • 8th May 2017 / 9:05 pm

          I can’t remember off the top of my head but they’re the only photos you NEED to buy (because you just can’t take them as well yourself) and I think we might have paid about £10 per photo, but we got a nice download leaflet where we could use an app to post smaller versions of the photo on social media and still have a hi-res version to print.

          • Carl
            10th May 2017 / 4:33 pm

            Thanks for your help.

  8. Angela Watson
    8th May 2017 / 6:20 pm

    I am going here in a few months and wondered what are the best times for a tour. Morning or evening? Can you enter the park and walk around prior to your tour time?

    • 8th May 2017 / 9:04 pm

      I would personally say morning as it gets busier through the day.

  9. Michelle Evans
    2nd June 2017 / 3:54 pm

    Do you recommend the digital guide?

  10. Bonnie
    30th June 2017 / 8:05 am

    Hi there, great and useful tips about the HP tour. Did you drive there and if so, where do you park. Or, is it better to get a train. We couldn’t get the early tickets so are going in the 6.30pm slot :/
    Thanks in advance for any advice

    • 30th June 2017 / 7:46 pm

      Yes I drove, there is on-site free parking which is well staffed and dead simple.

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