I LOVE Harry Potter. I’m sat here writing this looking at my Harry Potter purse with my Hermione Granger wand pen sitting on my laptop.
My kids LOVE Harry Potter, even though they’re too young to have seen all of the films and we’re only on book 5.
Slowly but surely, through reading the books to the kids, Hubby is getting the bug too.
For Christmas Hubby and I brought the kids tickets to visit Warner Bros. Studios Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter. Tickets cost us £140 for a family of four (thankfully smallest child is still free). As you know, we have been on a lot of family days out, and this was the most expensive single day out we’ve ever had. It’s difficult to find something comparable because this place is unique. Just to put it into context though, Legoland and Thorpe Park cost a similar amount of money but there are often promotions of one kind or another available. Madame Tussauds will cost you £92 for a family ticket, Paulton’s Park will cost you £118 and Willows Activity Farm £48. So, is it worth all that money?
I can’t really answer that question without doing a quick review of the tour. The tour is epic from the entrance (where you are greeted by the Wizard’s Chess pieces) right up to the exit (where you get to see all of the Fantastic Beasts costumes). There are lots of the original sets for you to look at. You start off in the Great Hall (you only get a couple of minutes in here before you get moved on though). Then there’s the Griffindor common room, the potions classroom, Dumbledore’s office, the Hogwarts Express, Hagrid’s hut, the Knight bus, the Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley and something very very special at the end that I won’t spoil it but it took my breath away. They’re opening Gringott’s bank in April but sadly we didn’t find out it was opening until after we’d booked tickets.
Dotted around there are lots of the original costumes worn in the films, plenty of props, information about the people involved in making the films and there are some hands on activities. If you want to pay £14 per photo there are a couple of photo ops such as playing Quidditch or taking a train ride. There are a couple of free photo ops as well though.
I had such high expectations for this place, and it really was fascinating to see all of those things and learn more about the details of the films. There are lots of things I know now that I had no idea about before. Hagrid’s secret – who knew!! The amount of work and detail that went into making the films is mind boggling.
There was just one thing that spoiled the whole experience – other people. Oldest child was shoved out of the way by adults several times. Hubby actually gave up at one stage and just sat down as he was fed up of being pushed around. This was only really an issue in the first section, where most of the sets are, and it’s only because they are crammed together and these are the most popular/interesting sets. The entrance to each is surprisingly small, you cannot actually go into them and each set is very close to the next so there’s a bit of a bottleneck. Where you had more space (Dumbledore’s office, Snape’s classroom and anything past the Quidditch display) things were much better and you could actually get to look around. The highlights for me had to be Dumbledore’s office (again, soooo much detail it was unbelievable), Diagon Alley was brilliant and the section about how they bring all the creatures to life was fascinating. Quirky little realities of being on a set made me laugh; the Great Hall is missing its roof, No. 4 Privet Drive has scaffolding instead of a first floor and next door only has half a room.
Every single member of staff we spoke to (and they’re all so friendly we spoke to quite a few) were welcoming, polite and mega Harry Potter fans filled with facts. They’ll proactively approach you to share their knowledge but do it in an unobtrusive way. I asked a fairly awkward question, because it had been bugging me for years, and they were able to answer straight away. One thing I was very impressed with is that they didn’t give away any spoilers. Before answering my question the lady I spoke to checked with eldest child if he’d read the last book and managed to answer my question without actually referencing the Battle of Hogwarts. It was a small touch, but very important. I cannot fault the staff at all. In fact, how do I get a job there????
Butterbeer. Yuck. Double yuck. It’s very sickly and we struggled to finish a glass between two people. You can either buy a plastic glass just to try it, or you can pay nearly £7 to get it in a special tankard that you can take home. I wish I’d just brought the tankard. Lol. The food was very quick, fresh and tasty. In terms of price, it was about what you’d expect to pay in a place like this. They didn’t have any highchairs that we could see so smallest child had to eat in her pushchair, but that wasn’t the end of the world.
I know there are people who have been multiple times (I’m friends with quite a few people who have) but I’m not sure I’d return any time soon – I really do feel like I learned everything that I’m going to.
So, we did really enjoy ourselves and I would recommend visiting but………. is it worth £35 each? After the cost of food (although you are allowed to bring your own) and being VERY restrained in the shop we actually spent nearly £300 in total. Honestly, I’m not sure it is worth the ticket price and it pains me to say that. I’ve asked a couple of other people and they tend to agree it’s very expensive for what it is. The main reason is because you won’t be able to stay there all day. We were there for 4.5 hours, including lunch but they don’t have any activities that can bulk out the amount of time there. It isn’t a theme park, and it isn’t supposed to be, but it might be nice if they had some kind of playground area. Harry Potter themed playground – that would be AWESOME!!
As things stand I’d probably give it 3 / 5. If you spread the first lot of sets out a bit more, so everyone can actually see, and knocked £10 off the ticket price then I’d give it 6 / 5. All that said, tickets sell out months and months in advance and that many people cannot be wrong! If you’ve been I’d love to hear if you think it’s value for money?