I started reading the first Harry Potter books in 2001. I read them greedily, pouring myself into the pages and escaping into another world. The world that J.K. Rowling made, captivated me. So naturally, when Warner Brothers opened the doors to Pinewood Studios, I wanted to visit and see behind the scenes for myself.
Warner Brothers Studios
When you first enter the tour, past the cupboard under the stairs, you are taken into a prescreening room with some disgustingly enthusiastic hosts to watch a short 5-minute clip on what the tour holds.
I really want to tell you about the tour but also want to keep it a bit of a surprise for people who haven’t been before.
Walking through the doors into the Great Hall is pretty special. The long tables are ready for new students with costumes and outfits. Even the top table is waiting for Dumbledore. The Great Hall is the only guided part of the tour, but there are staff throughout the studio for demonstrations and questions.
Pretty much everything from the films is here on tour from the Gryffindor Common Room, Potions Classroom, Hagrid’s Hut, the Burrow’s kitchen and Dumbledore’s office. In a previous expansion, the Hogwarts Express train is now on site and even more recently the Forbidden Forest (hopefully minus the spiders!).
Information for Visiting
Easily accessible by train and shuttle bus or a short drive from the M25 motorway. It is free parking right outside, and Golden Tours even do a shuttle bus from central London (at a cost).
Prices are around £40 each for an adult. Tickets must be purchased in advance and can be printed off or collected from the venue. Your ticket gives you an allocated entry time slot and get there early; you can always have a drink or bite to eat in the cafe or have a wee look around the shop. You do not want to be late and miss anything!
The average person spends about 3-4 hours at the tour, and about halfway through is a cafe where you can stop for a Butterbeer (be warned it is super sweet, I had to share a small one!) before stepping outside where the Knight Bus, Privet Drive and the Potter’s House at Godric Hollow is.
There are interactive sections and demonstrations where you can learn specific wand movement for duelling. Or you can play Quidditch in front of a green screen and have your photo taken. There are so special events throughout the year such as Hallowe’en when Death Eaters are lurking about.
Yes, the tour is quite pricey, even for London standards but you are getting a lengthy, immersive and interactive experience. It is magical for any Harry Potter fan. Even if you are not a fan (like the two people I went with), it is still an eyeopening experience to understand the movie-making process.