Our very own SuperBreaker, Khalid is here to tell us all about his family break to London and the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter. Read on for his highlights of the trip with a few short break top tips thrown in too!
The centrepiece to our half term break was a trip to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Watford after many recommendations from various friends. The big decision for us was where to stay as we wanted to visit London as well. We opted for a hotel at Watford Junction for a couple of reasons, but the main one being that it’s just a 20 minute train ride into London Euston which meant we could do the London part of the trip with minimal of fuss. Onto Harry and his chums later, but first here’s what we got up to in London.
We live in York and so are very lucky to have a quick and frequent train connection into London. It’s a much more relaxing way to start a break especially when heading to the big smoke – coffee, newspaper and kids now old enough to entertain themselves is a far more preferable option than an unknown number of hours on the M1. We spent the day visiting the hugely impressive Tower of London which easily requires a full day to do it justice, we were there from 11 until 5 and there was something for every member of family.
For the 6 year old princess in training, the bling of the Crown Jewels was a big draw. We rode the moving walkway past the most impressive crowns and sceptres at least three times. For the 10 year old boy there were a couple of highlights including the Torture at the Tower exhibition; we now know all about manacles, the rack and gorgeous sounding scavenger’s daughter (in case you’re interested it compressed the victim!). His other highlight was the Royal Beasts exhibition where we learnt they kept exotic animals at the tower for over 600 years. They were often gifts from monarchs around the globe and it was the forerunner of London Zoo, but the animals weren’t treated quite as well. For the grown-ups our highlight was Yeoman Warder or Beefeater guided tours. Our guide was funny, engaging and full of entertaining stories of history and life at the tower.
After a full and tiring day we took the short train ride to Watford Junction, our hotel was the Holiday Inn Express London-Watford Junction which is just a short walk from Watford Junction; we had a family room which suited our needs perfectly. We persuaded the kids to be a bit adventurous on the food front for tea and went to a lovely Lebanese family restaurant called Nana’s, the owners were very friendly and the food was delicious and exceptional value. We had a selection of hot and cold mezze which the kids loved trying, highly recommended!
The next morning was the main event, the hotel was literally a 5 minute stroll to the Harry Potter shuttle bus which sets off from Watford Junction. At a bargain £2 per person return it’s the hassle free way to get to the Harry Potter Studio Tour. We got in bang on time for our 10am timed entry slot; for half term I was amazed at how freely the crowds moved all day. The entrance to the Great Hall was quite spectacular and to see the kids jaw drop was quite something. I wasn’t actually sure what to expect but the attention to detail all the way through the tour was incredible.
I’ve done another family straw poll and the highlights include learning about green screen technology and flying the broomsticks. My little girl’s highlight was the wand lessons of the classic Harry Potter spells. The end of the tour was my highlight, as you are about to exit you are confronted with a huge model of Hogwarts Castle that measures 50 foot in diameter. My favourite fact is that when all the time spent by 86 artists and crew members is added up, it took an incredible 74 years to build. The attention to detail of the model really takes your breath away, in fact seeing the castle was such a positive experience I got over paying £8.95 for a packet of Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans quite quickly! Earthworm anyone?
I can’t recommend the Warner Bros. Studio Tour – The Making of Harry Potter enough for a family day out; if you haven’t been – go. And, if you’ve been before, go again because in March they are unveiling a 20,000ft expansion, including the original Hogwarts Express steam engine and a recreation of Platform 9 ¾. I know we’ll be back.
You can book everything in this post with SuperBreak including rail from your home station, tickets to the Warner Bros. Studio Tour, entry to the Tower of London and your hotel stay – the perfect family treat this spring!