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Inside the Harry Potter Studio Tour

We have tickets to the Harry Potter Studio Tour- not guided. Having trouble understanding it we are on our own the whole tour or will hear about what we are seeing as we go. Are studio staff around to add commentary along the way? Do we need to purchase the separate digital guide for the best experience? Would the guide help or distract since we know the stories well. We are all big Harry Potter fans.

Posted by
1549 posts

We were there on May 15th and greatly enjoyed the experience without any audio guide. This is a highly immersive experience where you wander from set to set on your own, while enjoying the input of many staff on hand to enhance your knowledge. There are a number of opportunities to participate in set experiences, think “Up!” to raise a broom, and photo ops at every turn. Speaking of photos here is a tip, you will enter the great hall with a crowd of others and tempted to take photos. Patience! Allow the crowd to dwindle down and stand near the exit to the hall then take your photos of the set with far fewer folks impairing your image.
Our only disappointment was the quality of food at the cafe mid-point to the tour. Dining options available in the cafeteria prior to the tour are far better.
Note: there are two trains available to take for the train station, be sure and catch the express train which gallops out to the city. The other train is slow trek stopping at many stations.
When you arrive at the train station walk into the parking lot and hop on the free bus heading to the studio lot.
We are HP groupies so took four hours to inhale all the experience and came away with a new precaution of all the talent needed to produce the movies.
Enjoy!

Posted by
278 posts

Being Harry Potter fans, you will love this tour. I took it a couple of years ago unguided and didn't use the audio guide either but didn't find that to be a problem. Items/rooms are labeled and as fans you will instantly recognize nearly everything and can go at your own pace, including lingering at favorite items/rooms. I was in awe of so much that I saw. It's a truly memorable experience, IMHO.

Posted by
24 posts

You're on your own for the tour and that's fine. We did a bus trip and I was kind of worried that we would either be rushed or be finished with an hour or more before our bus would leave. But they time things perfectly. It's a well-oiled machine. I don't think there's anything that you'll wonder what it is---so I think a guide would be kind of a waste.

Posted by
122 posts

I think Steven summed up the experience well and gives great tips. I was there last August with my niece and we thoroughly enjoyed it. We were there probably five hours. As was mentioned it's a well oiled machine in which you drift along enjoying the sets and pop up demonstrations. There is so much to see and marvel over, and it's wonderful to linger at your favorite sets, like the Gryffindor common room and the Burrow. With the timed entries and meandering flow of exhibits, we never felt it was too crowded. Except for the cafeteria; here it was very busy serving up really bad food. I don't understand why the studio can't do better. The butter beer is outstanding, though, and you get a cute little souvenir cup with it that I now use as a pencil jar. The gift shop was also quite crowded. We spent at least 45 minutes exploring its cavernous depths and picking out the perfect wand. You will have a fantastic time!

Posted by
276 posts

Since 2015, we have been 3 times. If you are familiar with the films, you will probably enjoy seeing the sets and immersing yourself.

How long you spend is up to you, you are allowed to backtrack as much as you want and can even go back in the Great Hall but only until the next group is about to go in. The interactors do a good job of keeping the magic alive for everyone as they enter the hall after seeing the film.

We have done all different experiences:
1. 2015 - was sold out through the Studio and we did a Golden Tour bus trip from Victoria Station. We got there around 10 am and I made sure that we were able to take a later bus back. I think we were there 8 hours.
2. 2017 - took a train to Watford Junction, stayed at the Travelodge (cheap as chips), ate the breakfast and watched in horror the aftermath of the Manchester bombing and paid £2 or so for the shuttle. I think it's now included in the ticket price. We did the morning deluxe tour which was amazing but very pricey. Also, they did not download our included photos onto the USB key so was not happy about that. Only figured that out when I got home as I didn’t have a laptop on the trip. We stayed until closing. We were there for 12 hours, I guess. Audio guide included but not needed.
3. 2018 - went on my daughter’s 11th birthday. They gave her a birthday pin and all the interactors wished her "Happy Birthday!" We stayed at the Travelodge again before and after. We did a short Costume Tour which included an interactors explaining things about the costumes and then taking us to a portable behind Number 4 Privet Drive to touch, try on and admire very close up. This was a fantastic tour and I would do it again. We took a friend's daughter who is not a fan and was expecting to be very cynical and she loved it. The look on her face when she saw the Hogwart's Express was of sheer wonder! My daughter and I stayed from opening to closing breaking our previous record.
4. We are going at the end of June. I didn't think my now 16 year old would be interested so I didn’t get tickets early. All that was left were 16:00 on the day we could go. That would not do so I got a hotel package with a 9 am entry. We are looking forward to the new to us exhibits as they are constantly adding things. I think Gringotts is new and there is a current PoA exhibition. We plan to be there 13 hours - opening to closing.

Yes, we have a problem. We also have an annual HP movie marathon every winter break. It's 19 and a half hours. We now take breaks during the credits.

Here are my tips:

  1. Once much of your cohort has left the Great Hall, go back to the entrance doors that are now closed and get your photos of you pretending to open the doors, standing by the doors, of the Hall, etc. On Trip 3, we went back in the evening and got photos of the girls sitting at a table, etc.
  2. You can backtrack as much as you want with a few caveats re: the Great Hall. No need to be sneaky; just ask. The interactors have been trained impeccably to say "yes" to nearly every request. Now they are selling portable chargers but in 2018, they loaned me one. They allowed my friend to park and come into the lobby to pick up his daughter at 7 pm before my daughter and I were ready to leave. They accompanied me through the back halls to meet him.
  3. You can take food with you. We will try a few things but try to bring food with us. There is a prohibition on food in stored luggage, I see.
  4. Have the cold butterbeer, the butterbeer ice cream and any other butterbeer product. They are delicious and worth trying.
  5. The green screen photos are a bit pricey but it is fun to take part even if you don't buy them. Depending on your timing, the queues dwindle in the evening.

We stopped buying souvenirs after the first trip or two. For years, my daughter’s favourite earrings were lightning bolts purchased from Blue Ruby. If you like the artwork, visit MinaLima in Wardour Street in London.