The Making of Harry Potter is a permanent exhibit inside the Warner Bros. studio complex in Leavesden that gives you an authentic look behind the scenes of the Harry Potter films.
The Warner Bros. Leavesden studio complex is a working film studio established on the former Leavesden Aerodrome, which used to be home to a de Havilland aircraft factory. The former aircraft hangars were first used as a film set in 1994 for the James Bond film Goldeneye. Since then, other films shot here include Star Wars: Episode I – the Phantom Menace, Sleepy Hollow, and of course, all the Harry Potter films.
In 2012, Warner Bros. created two new soundstages to house a permanent Harry Potter exhibition that includes many sets from the original films as well as costumes and props from the film series.
Because Warner Bros. sold the license to operate Harry Potter-styled theme parks to Universal Studios, the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter is a very different experience to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter attraction at Universal Studios properties in Hollywood, Orlando and Osaka. The main difference between the two is that this is a film studio and not a theme park, which means that there are no rides, but instead, you get a much more authentic experience as you are visiting the actual film studio where you can see the original costumes, props and film sets.
What to see at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
Although the Warner Bros. Leavesden studio complex is a working film set, the two soundstages used for the Harry Potter films are separate to the rest of the complex and visitors to the studio complex are only able to see the Harry Potter related exhibits and not the working studios.
The standard tour is a self-guided experience, which means you can enjoy it at your own pace without feeling rushed but there are guided tours as well for an additional cost.
The tour lets you walk on the actual sets including:
- The Great Hall
- Diagon Alley
In addition to actual film sets, the attraction also includes replica sets created for The Making of Harry Potter attraction including:
- Platform 9¾
- The Forbidden Forest
- Gringotts Wizarding Bank
The Forbidden Forest exhibit allows you to walk among massive tree roots and see lifesize models of Buckbeak and Aragog, the enormous spider with a 5.5m (18 ft) leg span.
The newest attraction is the 1,533m² (16,500 sq ft) addition where you can visit Gringotts Wizarding Bank and walk through the banking hall and into the Lestrange Vault.
You can see real props from the films including the:
- Potions classroom
- Memory cabinet
- Professor Umbridge’s office
- Puking Pastilles dispenser
You can see costumes from the films including quidditch uniforms, costumes from the Yule Ball, uniforms made for students of the Beauxbatons Academy of Magic plus costumes from the older characters in the final scene of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2.
There is an exhibition of special effects including the door to the Chamber of Secrets, the invisibility cloak, the Whomping Willow and a green screen experience where you can dress up and hop on a broomstick.
The Behind the Seams tour
The Behind the Seams tour is a premium entry ticket that includes entry to the Making of Harry Potter experience plus a one-hour tour showing how the film’s costumes are designed and produced. This tour lets you see original costumes from the Harry Potter films and it gives you an insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes to produce costumes and props that appear on the screen.
The Behind the Seams tours are best suited to people who like to see how things are made and are highly recommended for anyone with an interest in fashion design. However, these tours are not recommended for younger children.
The Behind the Seams tour costs £65 (£55 for children). These tours operate three times per day on weekends and during UK school holidays.
Temporary exhibitions and special events
There is also a programme of temporary exhibits that focus on specific aspects of the Harry Potter films as well as special events during Halloween and the Christmas/New Year season. These include:
A Celebration of Slytherin
During the Celebration of Slytherin (until 15 September 2021) visitors to the studio tour will be able to see the Great Hall decked out to celebrate a Slytherin House Cup victory. During this period, you will also be able to see exhibits of Slytherin costumes and props.
The Dark Arts exhibition (24 September–7 November 2021) coincides with the Halloween season and features the Great Hall festooned with over 100 floating pumpkins plus lollipops and red apples. It also features live duels demonstrating how battle scenes from the Harry Potter films were created.
Hogwarts in the Snow
Hogwarts in the Snow (13 November 2021–16 January 2022) is an annual Christmas-themed event where the Great Hall is set up for a Christmas feast and the Hogwarts Castle model and the shop fronts of Diagon Alley are covered in a blanket of filmmaking snow.
Visiting Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter
The Making of Harry Potter exhibit is located inside two of the sound stages in the Warner Bros. studio complex in Leavesden north of Watford in London’s northern suburbs.
The quickest way to get there is by taking a train from London Euston station to Watford Junction and then get a connecting bus to Leavesden Studios. Trains run every 10–20 minutes and take 15 minutes for express services and 50 minutes for London Overground services).
The special Making of Harry Potter shuttle bus from Watford Junction to the Leavesden Studios runs every 20 minutes (and takes 15 minutes) and is the easiest option as this takes you right up to the studio entrance. This bus costs £2.50.
Arriva bus routes 8 and 10 also run between Watford Junction station and the studio complex, but they stop on Aerodrome Way around a five-minute walk to the main entrance.
Although your Oyster card will get you to Watford Junction, most local bus routes north of Watford Junction lie outside the Oyster ticketing area and require a cash payment.
It is also possible to book a tour that includes transport to and from central London, although it is much cheaper (and usually quicker) to take the train to Watford Junction and the connecting bus to the studio complex.
All up, it will cost £16.20 for the return trip between central London and the Warner Bros. studio in Leavesden (because of the daily Oyster cap, any more travel around London that day should be free). This cost includes both the return train fare to Watford Junction and the connecting shuttle bus to the studio complex. Add the entry tickets and you’re up for around £63.20 for return transport and entry to the attraction if you make your own way by public transport.
In contrast, the express bus from central London with entry to the Making of Harry Potter attraction will cost £85. Some people say that this is an easier option as you don’t need to navigate public transport but it is a longer return journey and it will cost you at least £20 more to do it this way.
You can book your admission tickets with inclusive transport from central London below:
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If you’re driving, the studio tour is not far from the junction of the M1 and M25 motorways. Exit at junction 19 if you’re driving clockwise on the M25 and at junction 20 if you’re driving anti-clockwise. Free parking is available if you’re driving to the studio tour.
The Making of Harry Potter experience is a very popular attraction and it is essential to pre-book your tickets before coming here, in fact, you can’t get in if you haven’t booked your tickets online in advance. When you book your tickets online you have the option of having tickets posted to you, or alternately picking up your pre-booked tickets when you arrive.
If you didn’t get your tickets posted to you, bring your booking confirmation email with some identification to the ticket window or the automated kiosks near the entrance.
Your pre-booked ticket will have an entry time that indicates when you are able to start your tour. You should plan on getting to the studio complex 20 minutes before your allocated tour time, allowing time to get there including time to wait for your train and the connecting bus at Watford Junction railway station.
Opening hours vary according to seasonal demand. Check opening hours here.
You visit as a self-guided tour using handheld audio-visual guides with audio commentary in nine languages (English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish).
The site is fully wheelchair accessible (including the shuttle bus) and there are also British Sign Language (BSL) tours for deaf visitors and audio descriptive tours and Braille guides for vision-impaired visitors.
There are three cafes on site: the Studio Cafe and a Starbucks coffee shop, both in the lobby and the Backlot Cafe, located around halfway through the studio tour. The Backlot Cafe sells non-alcoholic butterbeer, and also butterbeer ice cream. There are also three gift shops in the studio complex.
The entire tour experience takes around 3½ hours, but it is best to allow a full-day once you take into account travel times and a break for lunch and butterbeer.