I almost decided to skip this one but I am so glad we didn’t. Going to the HP studio tour seemed like going to Paris to visit Disneyland. I just wasn’t sure if we would be making the most of our time in England if we visited a Harry Potter place. But as Addam reminded me, Leavesdon Studios is more than just a fun museum, it’s THE only studios where the Harry Potter movies were filmed. So it does have its place in recent history.

While it was thrilling to be there I couldn’t help but mourn a little for young Josie who would have just fangirled herself to death if she had visited 10 years ago. I felt a bit like I couldn’t love it as much as I should have back in they golden years of my Harry Potter obsession.

First of all before you visit Leavesdon Studios you need to know that it is most definitely in London, and is right by Heathrow Airport. If you drive there that means you should add at least 1 hour to your arrival time. The traffic was a nightmare and as we would come to find out in the next couple of days, nobody should visit London with a car! (NEVER!)

We were very lucky to get tickets to the Warner Brothers Studio Tour because they regularly sell out every day. When we arrived to stand in line it was shocking to see how many people were there. Each ticket is timed by the half hour. I woke up early that day and got us two of the last tickets left for the day at 12.30pm. It was a 4 hour + drive from Leeds to get down to London so we were out of there very early and still only just got there on time.

Despite the timed entry they still make you line up to stagger the number of people going through the studios. After waiting in line for almost an hour we were ushered into a theatre room where we watched a cute little prerecorded message from Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint. They gave poor Rupert the worst one-liners that didn’t get many laughs from the crowd. I still think they ruined Ron’s character a bit by making him the side-kick comic relief. :/ Anyway my favorite part might have been the big reveal. The giant screen we were watching rolled up and behind it were two big great wooden doors!


I got super excited as we all crowded around the door. The guide asked people with birthdays to come to the front. (Pretty sure some of them were not celebrating birthdays but whatever…) They pushed the door open on the count of three and all the sudden there it was – Hogwarts in real life!

This is one of the only fully intact sets that you get to go through. It looked smaller in real life than it seemed on the big screen – maybe because the room is just a studio and not the starry night sky as the CGI depicts in the films. They had all four house tables set up, and life size mannequins of the characters including all of the teachers at the front. Hagrid was the most impressive.

After the Great Hall you get to go into the rest of one big studio where endless props from all 8 films are displayed. Some of them are recreated into mini sets like the Potions Classroom, the Gryffindor Common Room, Dumbledore’s Office, Hagrid’s Hut and others are just very mini collections of set props.

I think my favorite was seeing Dumbledore’s Office because it’s filled with intricate little inventions that I’m sure the set designers made up but might have some kind of real place in the Wizarding World that Jo Rowling told them about.

It was very sad to see the Potions Classroom because they had this faceless mannequin that was fully dressed in Alan Rickman’s clothing and wig. It was almost like seeing him in real life and that hurt my heart 🙁

This was a place that catered to children so kids could practice doing spells with real wands and ride in the flying car or on a broomstick (with a green screen in the background for a cool photo op). I’m sure Geneviette would have loved it. I hope we can at least take her to Florida sometime so she can visit the Harry Potter theme park. It’s by far one of the coolest place on earth.

Every single thing in the films are in this studio so it was really difficult to know where to look and what to take a photo of because as soon as you notice one thing you recognize you see a dozen more. I might have got whiplash from turning around so fast haha.

This blog post is going to be so photo heavy simply because I think every prop is as important as the next. After the prop room you walked out onto the set where Platform 9 3/4 was filmed (except for the outdoor scenes) and where the Hogwarts Express is housed. I was surprised to find it was a real train that you could board and see the scenes of each year by compartment.

We were not going to have time to go to the real King’s Cross Station so Addam took a photo of me running through the wall to get to school.

We thought we had come to the end of the tour at this point but nope there was a whole other studio to go through and an outdoor set where the Knight’s Bus was stopped and Private Drive was built.

I loved walking through the tiny set of the Dursley House because they had fixed all these envelopes from the first film in the rooms and it was like seeing real magic frozen in time.

We proceeded to the next studio, which I immediately wanted to skip through because it was mostly behind the scenes set design and costume stuff. I like it but not enough to read through and absorb the finer details. There were some highlights however, like poor Dobby, and the magical creatures. The moving Hippogriff was so lifelike, Addam and I started to wonder whether they had actually captured a real-life magical creature!

After this there was a big surprise: Diagon Alley! Having been to the Orlando version of Diagon Alley I was still very impressed by the set and especially the Weasley shop, which stood out from the rest:

After Diagon Alley there was some stuff on the Architects who were able to come up with the set designs in the first place. Their paper designs both in 3D and drawn on paper stuck to the wall was awe inspiring. I am truly blown away by their talent. Just look at these photos!

As we neared the end of the tour we entered one last room where a model of the Hogwarts castle featured in the center of the room. It was so big it was as tall as two floors and you could walk around the whole thing. They actually used it whenever they did the outdoor shots of Hogwarts combined with CGI. You can get a sense of how big it was by looking at those real people in the background in this photo:

The tour was amazing and despite there being hundreds of people in there it did not feel overly crowded. It was fascinating to see everything up close although now that I’m reminiscing on it I wish I had taken more time to read through all the prop signs. Every person who worked on Harry Potter should be so proud of their achievements. It looks like a dream job.

Since this was the only thing we did today we ended up getting to London a bit early. We stopped at the campsite in Crystal Palace and then took a bus directly to Piccadilly Circus! I’m going to save that for my next blog post. London is a life long dream come true!