I recall that the booking of the the train tickets and tour was a last minute, end of the LSE Michaelmas term thing- both me and Holly were, "You know what, lets just not think too much of the price and just do it!" Being a Harry Potter fan (not an extremist, but I like it enough to go crazy over Harry Potter related items!), this was really a nice trip. However, I wouldn't recommend it if you don't particularly like Harry Potter (much too expensive) or do not have the patience to go over all the exhibitions- that's the whole point of the tour really!
The entrance fee is £30 for year 2014 (£29 in year 2013 when I went) and transportation to the studio itself can also be quite expensive.
There are numerous ways to get to the studio:
By train from London Euston to Watford Junction through either the TFL London Overground or National Rail Train then a shuttle bus to the studio.
The cost of your train ticket would be around £9- £14 per journey and the shuttle bus would be £1.50 for a single ticket and £2 for a return ticket.
Or by coach (provided by Warner Brother's themselves)
Tickets and transfer package:
If you book early and own a Railcard, then it would definitely be much cheaper to travel by train. I would suggest buying a fixed time outbound journey and an all-day-ticket for the inbound journey (as you never know how long you want to spend there).
Note: Please check the prices again as the prices might have changes since I last went.
Although the FAQ on the official web page says that says that 'We estimate the average Studio Tour to last approximately three and a half hours', I spent literally 5.5 hours in the studio soaking everything in- from snapping photos of (and with) all the exhibitions to reading the descriptions and watching the short clips on the how the films were made on screen; it was truly an enjoyable day out!
To make complete use of your tour slot, I would suggest allocating an entire day for it. The closing time is 3 hours after the last time slot so if possible, book one of the earlier time slots. Only approximately 30 minutes of the tour is guided. After the guided tour, you're free to roam as you please.
Another thing I would like to point out is that Christmas would probably be the best time to visit! The staff would have decorated the whole castle with snow and the studio would be filled with Christmas-sy decorations, adding more glamour to the already charming tour.
Also, be sure to take a sip of butterbeer!
(Personally, I think it tastes like Starbucks)
Heads up: If you want nice pictures with the Knightbus, Mr. Wesley's flying car, and a few other statues outside, then go out of the first exhibition/building to the open air space outside in between the first and second exhibition/building- you'll get nicer pictures during daylight when the sun is still out!
Here are a few photos I took in the studio:
The shuttle bus from Watford Junction train station to the studio! And look there's Holly standing right in front of it.
And here the journey begins!
After you get your tickets and join the queue, you'll be lea into a waiting area so everyone who booked the tour for that time slot can come in and then you'll proceed to the cinema room (no photos allowed). After the screening you'll go into the Great Hall- and the staff will normally ask if anyone has a birthday on that day- the birthday boy/girl will get to open the Hogwarts gates! And then there'll be a mini 15-20 guided tour on the Great Hall, then you'll be free to roam around the exhibitions as you wish.
Don't you love the Christmas-sy decorations? As I said, go during Christmas time! Some of the windows will also have digital snow falling behind the castle doors- adding a little more magic into the air.
One of the decorations used during the Yule Ball
Costumes of the characters are everywhere!
The Mirror of Erised- would it tell you your heart's desire?
The homey Gryffindor common room decorated in Gryffindor colours- how I wish my hall's common room looked as comfy as this.
The amazing bell tower of Hogwarts.
Thingamabobs on the shelves in Dumbledore's office.
The portraits of past headmasters and headmistresses on the walls of Dumbledore's office.
The Tritournament cup and the Golden Egg used in the Triwizard Tournament!
The leaky cauldron- what I found most interesting about this was the use of forced perspective- a visual technique which allowed it to appear more than 50 feet long on screen!
The chilly potions room- with self-stirring cauldrons to add to the chill.
Here's a little information on the film effects used while producing the firm.
Hagrid's/Sirius's flying motorcycle
The Gringotts underground cart
And of course, we can't forget the broomsticks!
Furthermore, you Quidditch lovers will love the 'Fabulous Broom experience' available in the studio! Queues are normally long but they move really fast. (No photos allowed, if you want photos, you must purchase them from the Harry Potter shop).
You just got to love the Weasley twins- in fact, they're my favourite characters in the whole series! I think they're the ones who add that 'little bit of charm' into the darker parts of the series.
Mr' Weasley's flying car! (A good photo opportunity)
If you want better photos in daylight, then perhaps go out of the first exhibition room, snap some photos, go back in, go back out for food (the food stalls and Butterbeer are sold there), before continuing indoors into the second exhibition room.
Chilling on the flying motorcycle. Not exactly the best shot in the world with half the vehicle missing but I suppose that's what you get from asking a random fellow tourist to snap it for you. (That's the Knight Bus in the background).
Awful looking mermaid head
Gawp (Hagrid's Brother)
Our famous fire-breathing fiends
Everyone's favourite- Dobby!
There were also many models of all the buildings (including the Durmstrang Ship and Whomping Willow) in the exhibition- a heaven for architecture students.
Hogwarts castle in snow! Certainly the best reason to come during Christmas time :)
Check out my review on TripAdvisor here.