Disclosure: We were invited on this day out for the purpose of this post however all opinions are my own.
Dave and I are huge fans of Harry Potter film series and books and have been to the Warner Bros studios twice previously – once when the defence against the dark arts section was introduced and again when the tour was expanded to include the Hogwarts Express train and platform.
But until now we had never been with the children and so we watched the first Harry Potter movie with them and then took them to the Warner Bros studio tour to see what we would think of it as a family trip – already loving it as something to do as a couple.
The children were excited the minute we stepped into the Warner Bros studios tour building, greeted by faces of all their familiar Harry Potter characters and many they haven’t yet been introduced to. They loved the flying car above them and queuing past Harry’s room under the stairs. The queues were quite big to get into the tour but the children didn’t seen to mind and it moved quickly.
Before long we were in the initial holding room where you hear from the people behind the books and movies on how it all came about. Then we were shown into a cinema style room to watch an introduction from Harry, Hermione and Ron before we could step through those iconic doors into the world of Harry Potter.
The tour takes you through the sets, costumes, props of the movies and so much more. When we were there they even had someone making props for you to watch and explaining the differences between real things and the prop version. They were really lovely with the children – as were all the staff – explaining things in ways they could understand and making time for them.
The children were also given passport books to stamp as they went through the tour, spotting different things and completing different activities. They loved searching for hidden Golden Snitches – and it kept Dave and I entertained too!
The children loved being able to ride a broomstick for a photo and video opportunity but I was disappointed we couldn’t get a video in the flying car as we’d been able to on previous visits. Although photos were available to buy the children were happy enough just to have the broomstick experience.
There was also the chance to learn how to cast spells using a wand and the children really enjoyed looking around the boys dormitory, the common room, Hagrid’s hut, the Weasley’s kitchen and all the other places they recognised from the Harry Potter world.
The main part for the children was the Hogwarts express. Their reaction walking into the platform and seeing the steam train was amazing and they loved trying to push a luggage trolley through the wall into the platform and exploring the train carriages. Last time we visited we sat in the interactive carriage and watched the world go by outside and I was again a little disappointed that this was now another photo selling opportunity and not just something you can enjoy and take your own photos of.
After this there’s a natural break in the tour with food outlets and a butterbeer stall so that you can try the drink from the movies – there’s even butterbeer ice cream too! This is a great place to stop for a picnic before heading outside to the Harry Potter Warner Bros studios tour backlot.
In the backlot there are all the bigger sets and props that wouldn’t fit inside – Number 4 Privet Drive that you can now step right inside, Godric’s hollow, the Hogwarts bridge, the triple decker night bus, the Weasely’s car and Hagrid’s bike and sidecar.
All of these parts of the movies are quite important aspects and so great to see in daylight and be able to touch them and climb on them – much to the children’s delight!
After that it was back inside for make up and special effects before walking down Diagonal Alley, one of my favourite parts of the tour and one the children really enjoyed too.
We could then walk through set designs and artwork showing the whole process behind the Harry Potter films before coming to the end of the tour and one aspect that still takes my breath away – a scale replica of the Hogwarts castle. It’s a work of art. It’s the most incredible castle you will ever see. LP and Little Man loved it and ran down the slope peering at it from every angle.
We could then wander through the wand shop and into the Warner Bros studios tour shop to finish the tour. At the moment there’s a special seven-week feature to celebrate the fifteenth anniversary of the first Harry Potter film. Until 5th September you can see lots of added extras at Warner Bros Studios Tour, all dedicated to the first movie!
The children had a great time and it was really nice to be able to introduce them to the world of Harry Potter. It’s definitely somewhere you can visit as a family and we are already looking forward to our next trip.