Wonder around the Wizarding World
Engage in the wonderful wizarding world of Harry Potter with a tour of the studios just outside of London.
Growing up with reading (and racing through) the Harry Potter books, I was always entranced with everything related to Hogwarts. When I realized that there was an opportunity to walk through this magical set I immediately went out to book tickets. When I went to book it for a specific time, it was already sold out, so I had to alter my plans. Therefore, I recommend booking it at least 2 weeks out so you are guaranteed to get in, as ALL TICKETS MUST BE PREBOOKED. This is my experience with it and my advice.
WHEN TO GO:
Check the calendar of events before you go, to see what special treats they have in store. When I went the theme was Hogwarts in the snow, and all the great hall tables had their christmas feast on it! Now they are celebrating 15 years of the Philosopher's Stone, so they have the sorting hat (which I am mad I missed out on).
If you are like me, you have never heard of Watford and have no idea to get there. Fear not, it is right outside of london with plenty of ways to get there.
Option A: Train- you can take a train to watford from London or whereever then get on a double decker harry potter themed bus that will directly take you to the studios. In order to get on this bus, you must show your ticket or email for the tickets and the fee for the bus is 2.50 and they run every 20 minutes. I did this route and I found that it was well run.
Option B: Driving- If you have a car, directions are here.
Option C: Bus from London- There are a few services available that will take you from London in the morning to the tour (even has the option of combining the ticket and the transport).
Finally, you must arrive at least 20 minutes prior to the tour or they won't guarantee your entrance.
BECOME A WIZARD:
When I got the tour I got the audio guide and the paperback guide, which wasn't really necessary, but I didn't want to miss out on ANYTHING. When you get there and check in they give you all the essentials (if you paid for them) and then you can chill in the cafeteria for a bit before you line up to go in, or if you feel like preshopping in the giftshop you can do that.
Going through the sets, checking out all the pieces and accessories doing the audio tour took me around 4 hours. After the first few sets there is an outdoor area where they have the bridge, privet drive, the chess pieces, the bus, and a stand that serves butter beer (GET IT, IT IS DELICIOUS). It really is a full day, but it's fun if you go with other Harry Potter nerds, as they won't complain when you take an hour in the giftshop to spend 150 pounds on wands and chocolate frogs (which I still maintain was totally necessary).
PHOTOS & MOMENTOS:
Although there are plenty of opportunities to take pictures, the studio also has 3 photo stations in the tour which you can purchase pictures from.
Flying Car & Broom adventure- Feeling almost like video games, you can wait in the line in the middle of the tour, in the main room towards the mirror and before you know who's table.
Azkaban wanted poster- located at the end of the giftshop, you have the chance to be a wanted prisoner of the wizarding world
DRINKING & DINING:
There really is a limited amount of places to eat, so eat before or eat afterward. You will only be eating from their little cafeteria, Butter beer, and chocolate frogs and other sweets from the giftshop, so plan accordingly.
OVERALL, Loved the studio tour, there are so many things from the movie, you feel like you are actually in the movie... a really expensive movie. Go with a friend and enjoy a day trip, there is nothing really around the trainstation in Watford but there is a pub right next door so you could always get refreshments while you wait for your next train back. Enjoy!
Attractions: Great Hall, Snape's class, Diagon Alley, Animatronics lab (dobby, hagrid)
Dining & Shopping: Butter beer during tour, cafeteria in entrance, gift shop in entrance
Photos: Azkaban (giftshop), Broom & Flying Car (during tour, in main room in left corner before he who must not be named's table).