The sets used in the magical movie franchise are about to open to visitors. But at £83 for a family ticket to ‘The Making Of Harry Potter’ studio tour, will even those people potty about Potter steer clear?
If Dobby, the Sorting Hat, and the Golden Snitch mean anything to you, the chances are you’ll be interested in the brand new attraction opening on 31 March at the Warner Bros. Studios near Watford, Herts.
‘The Making Of Harry Potter’ Warner Bros. studio tour enables mere Muggles to see up-close the sets where much of the eight Harry Potter movies were filmed.
Reviewing the Harry Potter tour
I visited the studio for a review in our Which? Travel magazine, and I’d rate the experience as a great treat for fans young and old(er), who’ll be enchanted by the range of sets and the thousands of familiar costumes and props on display.
Like a magician revealing the secrets behind all their tricks, the tour explains – often using clever multimedia techniques – how the blockbusters were produced. After an introductory film and guided tour of the majestic Great Hall, you’ll walk self-guided past the Potions classroom and Hagrid’s hut.
Highlights for me included Dumbledore’s grand study, the cobbled Diagon Alley, and a massive model of the multi-turreted Hogwarts castle used for filming.
Harry Potter tour costly by the hour
My own visit – at a relatively leisurely pace to take in most of the accompanying explanatory films – lasted two and a half hours. Even the biggest aficionados probably won’t need much more than three hours to see everything.
This makes the admission price pretty steep for the price – £28 for adults, £21 for 5-15 year olds, and £83 for a family of four. So adults will be paying around £9 an hour.
Theme parks like Alton Towers cost slightly more (currently around £32 per adult if pre-booking online), but people tend to stay there for six hours or more, which seems better value at just over £5 an hour.
Adding on all the extras
Then there are the optional extras. One of the few interactive experiences is the chance to don a robe and be filmed flying on a broomstick through London. It’s great fun, but if you want a photo, it will set you back £12.
And couldn’t the famous (non-alcoholic) Butterbeer have been part of the overall experience, rather than costing an extra £2.95 a cup?
The tour inevitably ends at the vast gift shop, where pester power could reach epic proportions, but there’s little for under £10. Temptations include 17 different wands to collect (£25 each), Gryffindor swords (£12), and Weasley toys like the Extendable Ear (£15). There’s even a Dumbledore replica robe for a mere £496.
You might resist the merchandise, but if you’re arriving by train to Watford Junction it will cost £2 per person for a return ticket to the studio on a shuttle bus. Including the bus ride in the admission cost would have been a nice touch, especially as the car park is free.
A price worth paying?
Maybe I’m just being a Moaning Myrtle about this. Try to book tickets for the Harry Potter studio tour and it’s already virtually impossible to find any available date in April or any weekend in May. Is this a sign that perhaps the entry price isn’t so prohibitive after all, or just that people are under the spell of a much-hyped brand?
Warner Bros. no doubt sat down and researched what potential visitors would be willing to pay, so perhaps £28 is to be expected. After all, it’s much cheaper than seeing all eight Harry Potter movies at the cinema, or even going to a West End show.
Are you enthralled by the Potter magic? Will the cost of this three-hour experience deter you from visiting?