Every year, the Harry Potter tour in Leavesden decorates for Christmas. The Great Hall is decked out in its Christmas finery and the model of Hogwarts is dusted in snow. We’ve toured the studio before but not for about 5 years and not during the Christmas season.
Most of the weekends had been completely booked by October, but fortunately, we found a Monday the children had free from school and had an opening, although a 2pm opening.
Since our last visit, we knew the tour had added a Platform 9 3/4 as well as the Hogwarts Express, so we were eager to see the new additions and enjoy some of the new experiences offered.
We drove to Leavesden, which isn’t too far into the London area for traffic and easily found the car park. Upon entering, you wait in a large lobby until your scheduled time when you pass through a hall in a long line to enter a theatre where you watch a short film.
From there, the tour starts. The first room, The Great Hall, is only for a specific time so they can shuffle in the next group but once you enter the main portion of the tour, you can walk as leisurely as you wish through to see everything. It’s definitely not something you want to rush since there are objects and props stacked and displayed everywhere. The hallway to the Leaky Cauldron might be on one side of the room and in the middle might be the clock from the tower and on the opposite Dumbledore’s office. It’s so much that you will miss something on that first walk through. I don’t know how to avoid it, which is why I suggest walking slowly and making sure you try to cover as much as you can.
The first half of the tour is mostly props and sets before you reach a cafe area. We were impressed we could find gluten free and vegetarian options available for lunch and each had our obligatory cup of Butterbeer.
On the second half of the tour, you start with the set for Privet Drive and the Hogwarts bridge, which are outside with a few other props. We had some fun recreating photos from the last time we were there, our kids laughing harder than usual at their younger photos.
Platform 9 3/4 and the Hogwarts Express were great. It’s a bit of a queue to get inside and files through which doesn’t give you much time to really look for long. A cabin for you to sit and take photos as opposed to just look would’ve been nice, but unfortunately, wasn’t there.
The second half of the tour also boasted several new items. You can be Dobby while a computer interprets your movements for a screen. Gringotts and a hologram of the dragon escaping the vaults is in another room. They’ve also added a wonderful walk through the Forbidden Forest.
As always, the last part of the tour is the enormous model of Hogwarts, which is dusted in snow.
Whether you’ve been before or not, touring during Christmas is definitely worth it! The Great Hall is amazing decked out in trees with the flaming Christmas puddings on the table. The little touches throughout the tour are wonderful as well, including the cake at The Borough with the skating penguin on top. I definitely recommend going when you have the chance!!
Next up…The Anatomy of a Military Move (The end of my Expat days-for now hopefully!)