Orlando HP vs WB HP in London


#1

So today we went to the WB Harry Potter tour just outside of London.

HIGHLY recommend. It is easy to get to (but I'll come back to that). It is first off very cool and well worth your time. Second - it is very much different than the experience at US Orlando.

I have to say - that what they have recreated in Orlando - is exceptionally realistic and representational to what is at the original studios - and even more immersive. Since the sets here are the real ones and were not meant to be an exhibit - you sometimes think "where is the rest of it" - so that takes a bit to get over. However it is a WONDERFUL experience and well worth your time. It is a self guided tour with hand held sets and VERY knowledgable and friendly staff that are more than helpful and excited to share their HP experiences. At the end there is a wand room that has a wand box for all the cast and crew. There was a woman there that could tell you who the actor was and where their box was with literally laser pinpoint accuracy. You like Mcgonnigal (sp) - that is Maggie Smith and her wand box is right there (pointing with a laser).

Transportation. We were a family of 4 (2 adult 2 children 10 and 14) and this was what worked out best for us. I do NOT recommend the tour bus for two reasons. 1 - expensive, 2 - you only get 2 1/2 hours there with the tour bus. We spent 5. We are not super crazy HP fans - but we enjoy it - but we wanted to just explore at a leisurely pace - and we did. We also had lunch there - so that took some time.

We took a car out - it was about £77 (this included the tip). Our hotel booked it for us and it was well worth it. It was a nice car (Mercedes) and it was on OUR time and schedule. Got us there with plenty of time and in comfort.

Once we were ready to leave we took the Shuttle bus (£2 per person) to the Watford station and then took a 20 minute ride back into London via Eustron station (sp) at £19. From there you can get to any place in London via the tube. This was LESS EXPENSIVE than the tour bus, gave us more flexibility and we didn't feel rushed at all. In hind sight - I would have taken the train OUT - but it wouldn't have been as convenient as we would have had to get up earlier in the morning.

Another suggestion - go AS EARLY IN THE MORNING AS POSSIBLE. Also was told by a staffer to avoid weekdays as there are LOTS of school trips and the kids can be a bit "energetic". We were there at 9 AM on a SUNDAY and it couldn't have been more perfect


#2

Thanks for the advice! We are hoping to go there next summer :smile: Do you think the advice to go on a weekend is valid for the summer vacation time as well? I would think a weekday in July would be less crowded than the weekend, but I would love to hear your opinion.


#3

Not 100% sure - but I think that schools go nearly year round - outside of that - I would assume summer camps would take over. I think - not knowing anything - I would suggest first thing Sunday mornings. One tour guide noted that earlier the better. Make sure you book your tickets ASAP as time slots do book up quickly. I do also highly recommend NOT taking the tour bus.


#4

Thanks for the info! I dream of someday being able to make it there!


#5

Thanks for the info! Any "must dos" and "don't dos" in your opinion?


#6

Do we really need to book ASAP for our trip in July 2018? :scream:


#7

@brklinck - the way it is laid out - there really is no "must" or "don't". It is basically a big long walking tour. If something interests you you stay a bit longer - if you have no interest in the subject you can just move along. You basically meander around a pre-determined route. You can do it in 30 minutes if you like - or you can spend hours. We spent around 5 hours there (includes lunch).

The only "DO"s I suggest
- DO get the audio guide - it adds a bit more information.
- DO talk to the staff there - most are uber HP fans and are so excited to share the little extra tidbits that they have to share
- Do also do the green screens that they have available - you don't need to purchase the photos but it is fun to do regardless
- DO take your time and really take it all in

I guess the other thing would be is DO go into it with the right mind set. Unlike the theme parks there really are no rides - this is simply walking through all the props and getting to see how the movies were made. So it is a bit different. It was so much fun for us


#8

I wouldn't say ASAP - but keep an eye on it. They are TIMED tickets and early morning tickets go fast - so keep an eye on it. I would still recommend the weekend (at least Sunday). We got there at 9 and it never really got crowded. So just keep an eye on the days / times you want and as times start to disappear - just be mindful.


#9

We went 2 weeks ago, and booked about 3 months in advance. We also did a Sunday morning, though it was a holiday weekend in the UK and it was very very busy.


#10

Thank you so much both of you, @Tigger613 and @missoverexcited! :relaxed:
I will make sure we get our tickets waaaay ahead - I would not have known this if it wasn't for your posts here. Thanks! :blush:


#11

No problem. You will love it! We spent about 5 hours there too, and I could have easily spent longer.


#12

So not to change the subject of this a but - but as there are UBER planners on here - thought I would share some observations during our trip - hope you enjoy

  1. GO. London is in a word - CHARMING. It is easy to navigate. People are friendly and of course there is no language issue. The city is very international so there are people from all over the globe and that further adds to its charm.

  2. Consider an alternative to a hotel. We stayed at 130 Queens Gate Apartments. http://www.onethirty.co.uk/ It was the same price as a hotel - but offered so much more!! We stayed in a 2 bedroom and it was wonderful. The staff was exceptional and South Kensington is beautiful.

  3. Use the TUBE. Get the Oyster card when you are in London - don't bother with the tourist card. Each tube stop has friendly (yes friendly) attendants to help. We got all the information we needed to purchase the proper tickets. We had a 10 and 14 yr olds. 10 yr old is free (just goes in with paying adult) and the 14 yr old gets a discounted ticket (with help of attendant). The TUBE is VERY easy to navigate. Trains are clean and one comes literally every 2 minutes

  4. Use the TRAINS. Trains are very efficient as well. We took one out to Bath one day (about 1 1/2 hours). We purchased our outbound tickets in advance (to save $$) but purchased our return the day of.

  5. LONDON PASS. Did a lot of research on this. For us - it wasn't worth it - but it certainly can be. A few things: The days are CONSECUTIVE days. So you need to keep that in mind - it isn't 3 or 5 days - it is 3 or 5 consecutive days. There are a lot of things on the PASS that we had no interest in doing. Also - please note that you get the same "FAST PASS" experience if you purchase your tickets in advance online from the individual locations.

  6. PURCHASE TICKETS AHEAD OF TIME. We did this for most things and it was well worth it. Especially for the LONDON EYE and WESTMINSTER.

  7. HARRY POTTER - DO IT!!! As noted above we took out a private car and took the train pack. Worked out fantastic. Do NOT take the bus tour if you love HP. You only get 2 1/2 hours and although we didn't marvel at everything - we did take our time and felt UNRUSHED doing so. We spent 5 hours and could have spent a bit more. Do alternative transportation. GO EARLY though - get tickets for as early in the day as possible. Get tickets early - good times book up.

  8. Get a CC and / or bank card that doesn't charge international fees. Both the Capital One and Bank of America CC are no annual fee and no international fee. Additionally get a debit card that doesn't charge fees. The Capital One 360 bank offers this as well as do a lot of smaller banks. Also - when given the option pay in POUNDS as compared to DOLLARS during CC translations. The exchange rate offered is usually awful. So pay in Pounds and then have your bank do the conversion.


#13

So glad you enjoyed your HP tour! I've not been yet, but it is on my list. And visited my birth place (Watford) :wink:
I love London and I'm pleased it's been such a positive experience for you.
Some great tips for people visiting too, it's just like any holiday, planning is key.
Enjoy the rest!


#14

@AllmadhereUK THANK YOU so much for your tidbits of information and help. We had such a wonderful time. A fantastic city and wonderful people. It was so charming and international. London is both enormous and intimate at the same time. We hope to get back soon!


#15

So glad to see your trip went well!


#16

It was AWESOME!!! So blessed to have been able to go