England Is Calling: Watford & The Harry Potter Studio Tour

IMG_5597I’ve written before how things just seemed to fall in place as I planned our Great Britain trip. The Battle Proms at Blenheim Palace was a perfect example of this, and so was the Warner Bros. Studio Tour.

At first, I had no idea such a thing even existed and, even if I had, I would have quickly spurned it as too American for us to waste time or money on. The only reason I even discovered it was because I was planning our two-day stay in London and absolutely couldn’t find a hotel that also had guaranteed parking for our rental car. At first I looked in Greenwich and then near Tower Bridge (my favorite bridge) and then Kensington. Places advertised parking lots but didn’t guarantee there would be availability in them, which kind of defeated the purpose.

So I figured we could stay outside of the city and take the train in. I narrowed the towns to those northwest of London, since we were coming in from Worcester (northwest) and leaving afterwards to go to Bristol (west). A town called Watford looked like a possible candidate, so I did a Google search on it and – surprise! – found the Harry Potter Studio Tour.

We were so many months out that I figured I could wait to determine which tour I needed to buy tickets for, but within days the times that we could do were sold out. I shifted around our plans (they were only plans in my mind at that point anyway) and made it so we would take the tour the day we got into Watford, and then visit London the next day. Besides, there was no way I’d be able to surprise the kids if we took the train to London first, thanks to these signs everywhere. (And I only knew about them thanks to TripAdvisor and its user photos.)

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I was beyond thrilled to go into our trip knowing that I had many tricks up my sleeve to spring on my kids, and keep them excited even after they’d been gone from home for two weeks. So even after we’d slept in a castle, seen the Isle of Lewis, met Simon and Rachael, there was still more to come.

I can truly say that the Harry Potter tour was likely the best thing about staying in Watford. Our Premier Inn seemed to have air-conditioning as we entered the lobby, but that cool air rapidly dissipated as we headed up two more flights to our room. It was mid-July and it was hot. Luckily, the hotel was mostly empty and the staff gave us the code to the housekeeping closet so we were able to commandeer a bunch of fans, but trust me when I say that MacAulays and heat are a volatile combination.

Thankfully, we were able to bundle the kids back into the car and hint at the surprise as we tried not to get lost and miss our tour time. We were all excited when we pulled up to the studio parking lot. The place was crowded with tourists, but it was one of the last tours of the night, so it wasn’t nearly as crowded as it could have been.

We were herded through lines and doors and ended up in a room with a Harry Potter promo piece. When it ended, we all turned to the doors that opened up to this. Do you recognize it at all? 🙂 I’m sure you will because, after all, who ISN’T a Harry Potter fan? Though I guess you’d have to be a movie fan. I like the books and the movies, though I prefer the books.

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Entering Hogwarts

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Inside the Great Hall: Griffindor

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Inside the Great Hall: McGonagall, Dumbledore, Snape

We progressed through the sets, each one amazing. You couldn’t help grinning a little at everything.

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The Weasly Burrow

The Weasley Burrow

The kids making things move in the Weasly Burrow

The kids making things move in the Weasley Burrow

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Dolores Umbridge’s office

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The Potter’s House

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Luckily, no Whomping Willows in sight…

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The chess pieces

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Where’s Hagrid?

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A rare photo of me, ready to catch the bus

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Thomas Riddle’s tombstone

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A Mandrake: Isn’t it cute?

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Diagon Alley

While I recommend that you click on all of the photos to enlarge them and see the details, I really recommend it on the Hogwarts models below. They’re amazing!

IMG_5585 IMG_5589 IMG_5591 Did anybody ever notice a stone circle at Hogwarts? I never did, but the model had one. I really took this photo for all of my Outlander friends.

IMG_5593The end of the tour – inside Ollivander’s Wand Shop.

IMG_5594Of course, the tour wouldn’t be a tour if it didn’t dump you into the gift shop at the end, and this gift shop probably had the most extensive collection of Harry Potter stuff for sale outside of Universal Studios. We passed on Bertie Bot’s Every Flavour Beans… but did end up with Hermione’s wand. And photos of the kids riding brooms in front of a green screen, and the whole family in the Weasley’s Flying Ford Anglia:

Family in Flying CarThe tour was another special memory in a vacation packed with special memories.

Edited to add for my husband – a photo of the Harry Potter movies’ train bridge at Glenfinnan.IMG_5274

Next: London

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4 thoughts on “England Is Calling: Watford & The Harry Potter Studio Tour

  1. Thanks again for the memories. One of the items that we enjoyed, is knowing that even though we were in a mock up of the car in front of the green screen, we were near that bridge behind us, when we visited Prince Charles Stewart.

    Great time and thanks for having an excellent bag of vacation tricks.

    Liked by 1 person

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