I love Harry Potter. Like proper love it. Fan girls weren’t really a thing when I was growing up (hashtag old) so I’m more than making up for it now. I buy all the Harry Potter Primark goodness, listen to the audio books non stop, and have watched the films an inordinate amount of times. I’ve somehow managed to get my boyfriend to covert to being a fan (he even watches the films when I’m not with him. Don’t tell him I told you that). And where does a Harry Potter fan have to go? The Warner Bros Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter of course! I have been super fortunate to have already been three times (and got to visit the studios when they were actually filming Deathly Hallows Part One and for the Part Two Wrap Party. Yes I am showing off. No I don’t care) but it’s something I like to do as regularly as possible as they are always adding new content and sections. However, there’s nothing more magical than the special Hogwarts In The Snow exhibition, when they transform all the sets, dressing them in their festive fineness – including the Great Hall laid out for Christmas dinner. Absolute magic.
BOOKING & WHEN TO GO
Hogwarts In The Snow typically happens every year between the beginning of November and end of January. I’ve been once in January, which was nice, but I was kind of over the Christmas vibe by then (though obvs my HP love lasts all year round!) This year Andy and I went on the 19th December which was the perfect time – it gave me all the festive feels! Be warned though, tickets sell out super fast – we booked ours in October and struggled to find a spot. If you know you want to go, get your tickets as soon as they’re released to avoid disappointment, especially if you can only go at the weekend. Tickets for the 2018 Hogwarts In The Snow exhibit are actually available now for Saturday 17th November – Sunday 27th January 2019. Go Go Gryffindor!
When you book you also have to pick a time slot, which ensures entry is staggered throughout the day and it never gets too full. I think Warner Bros have nailed this as never have I been and thought it’s too packed. Our entry was at 5:30pm which was perfect, gave us 4.5 hours to explore (it closed at 10pm that night) and there were less little kids which was great (so we didn’t have to feel guilty when we wanted to play with / photograph the exhibits!!)
COST & GIFT SHOPS
Our tickets were £39 each, which may seem steep, but I think you get a lot for your money. We spent a good 4 hours at the Studios and there really is so much to see and do. As well as walking round to see all the sets and props, you also get an interactive talk at the beginning, there are interactive displays and activities throughout (which change with each exhibition, so there are lots of special Hogwarts In The Snow ones) You can also ride a broomstick, the Hogwarts Express and take wand combat lessons for free, even if you don’t want to pay for the pictures afterwards.
Once in the Studios there are three gift shops – the main store, one at Platform 9 3/4 and one at the Forbidden Forrest. I can only imagine that heaven is as wonderful as the main gift shop. It really is a thing of beauty. And magic. Obviously. There’s a HUGE array of items which do vary massively in price, from the really reasonable and affordable to way-out-of-the-Weasleys-price-range for the high end items. I’ve bought a few things over the years but nothing excessive – think magnets, mugs and pens, but trust me, when I win the lottery I will be buying EVERYTHING!!!! The main thing everyone wants is the chocolate frog which is £9. Sadly I’m too much of an adult to know that that is an awful lot to spend on something I would never eat as it’s Just. So. Beautiful. But I’m not so much of an adult that I don’t want it with all my heart. One day you shall be mine frog, one day. You also get a free little bookmark with every purchase which is a nice touch.
There is also the Backlot Cafe where you can buy hot food, sandwiches, drinks, and of course the famous BUTTERBEER!!! It’s not the nicest drink in the world but it absolutely has to be done, and you can choose to have it in a souvenir tankard or cup if you like too, for about £6.95. We went for the cup and have pretty much used it everyday since so it’s a nice way to bring a little bit of magic back to the Muggle world with you. They also now do Butterbeer ice cream which was AMAZING! Literal butterscotch glory. You can also buy it in a souvenir sundae cup if you so desire.
There is parking at the Studios, but we got the train from Euston to Watford Junction. You can now get there using your Oyster card which is great and saves faffing around with tickets and the journey should only cost about £8.60 depending on time of day. Once at Watford Junction you can jump on the Studio Tour Shuttle Bus which I do think is a bit cheeky that they charge for. It’s only a couple of quid but I think they should include it in the cost of the ticket, especially as they encourage people to come via public transport.
THE STUDIO TOUR
As I said above there is so much to see and do at the Studios, it’s awesome! It’s great for all ages and I’d say Muggles would enjoy it too as it’s pretty cool to see the props and costumes and behind-the-scenes secrets of any film. Other than a short section at the beginning, you walk around at your own pace so can spend as little or as long as you’d like roaming around and checking out the bits that interest you. My favourite spots are always the Mina Lima graphic design pieces, like the school book covers and Honeydukes packaging, and the Hogwarts room makes me cry every time. Getting to see the Hogwarts Express was also magical and I loved the interaction of the Forbidden Forrest (and strangely the spongey bouncy floor!) Diagon Alley also fills my heart with absolute DELIGHT!
As well as dressing the sets in Christmas decorations and dusting the Hogwarts Castle model in snow, there are also special Hogwarts In The Snow interactive exhibits too. You can see how they create invisible Harry’s footprints in the snow, how they make ice and fire and the Great Hall was decked out for the first time with the props from The Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire.
I’m not going to describe all of it as there’s just so much to see, and I don’t want to spoil it all, so here are some of my photo highlights. Enjoy! You can also check out more on my saved Instagram Highlights – @emsypickle