You may have seen from our Social Media pages that we took a trip to the Harry Potter Studio Tour in Watford just before Christmas. I have always wanted to visit, but living in Newcastle makes the logistics of going quite difficult. But following an appointment at a London hospital, we decided to stop off during our journey home! There are several transportation links that take guests directly to the entrance, but I prefer to have my car close by in case I run out of spoons and need to go back for a rest.
I had read many positive reviews about this experience, but I was still quite apprehensive about the level of accessibility. So many attractions/venues say that they are accessible, when in reality they are not accommodating. So I knew if I went with an understanding that I might not be able to see/access everything, then I wouldn’t be disappointed. Luckily this was not the case and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I was able to experience!
One thing I will say is that you need to book your tickets for this attraction several months in advance, as they don’t sell any tickets on the door. I was originally disappointed that we couldn’t get tickets to coincide with my appointments. But I was advised to check online 15 days before your desired date, as that is when tourist companies return any unsold tickets. But you need to get in quick! Luckily my insomnia meant I was able to go online in the middle of the night to secure our tickets exactly 15 days before my chosen date. I also only had to book one ticket for myself, before calling up to organise a free ticket for my Carer.
Upon arrival we had to show our tickets to get into the car park, then we were quickly shown to one of the disabled parking bays close to the entrance. The staff on hand were all very helpful and after checking my ID, PIP confirmation and tickets, we were ready to go. Whether you take the self-guided or deluxe tour, the route is the same. The first part of the tour involves guests being put into groups of around 50 people, ahead of a short film and the Great Hall reveal. I will say that it was initially quite hard to see everything, as everyone piles into the Hall at once. But if you hang back, you can have a few minutes at the end to snap some clear photos before the next group arrives.
After the Great Hall you begin your self guided tour of the exhibits, which I always prefer as I can go at my own pace! You get to see things linked to directing, casting, costume design, make-up, set design and more. Each area had a staff member on hand to answer any questions, as well as display boards with words and pictures.
There are several photo opportunities, most of which are accessible to guests with a disability. For example, I was able to roll into a Hogwarts train carriage, Ron’s Car, Hagrids House and more. However, unless you are able to climb aboard a broomstick, you might struggle to get a photo on the famous Nimbus 2000. If you are willing to attempt the transfer, the staff will try to help you. But sadly this was not something I was able to do, as I was bumped in the area before the broomstick green screen. So I needed to take it easy.
A very tall man with a ridiculously large backpack stepped back into my wheelchair, causing my hip to dislocate. Luckily we were outside the toilets by the forbidden forest, so there was a bench where I could lay down and relocate my joint. Within a minute, 2 staff members came over to ask me if I was ok. We quickly explained my situation and that I would be alright, but they kindly informed me that they had a first aid room with beds where I could rest; a mother and baby room with recliners; as well as a sensory room with soft floor. So if needed, I could use any of these facilities. They also told me where we could take my assistance dog for a toilet/drink break, which Fliss really appreciated. Finally, another lovely member of staff came to check on me about 20 minutes after the incident, where they confirmed the above information and asked if there was anything else they could do to help. I am still very grateful for the support and additional information, as it made this little setback a lot easier to manage! It was lovely to see that every member of staff across the entire tour was friendly, accommodating and informative.
The tour is far more accessible than their website indicates. So I would highly recommend visiting if you get the chance! The majority of the Tour is suitable for guests in wheelchairs, but I will say that Diagon Alley’s cobbled street may be difficult for some people. There is an alternative route for any guests who are not able to safely go along the cobbled walkway, so don’t be afraid to ask a member of staff for more information. The Hogwarts bridge can only be accessed via a short staircase, which isn’t adapted as it is an original set piece. But it is very easy to go around outside of the bridge, so you can still get right up to it and take some photos! You can find out more about this on their Additional Needs website.
I honestly cannot find anything negative to say about The Making of Harty Potter Tour. There was so much to see and learn, so it is definitely something you could do again. Especially during a different season, as they have lots of themed events, decorations and extras. It really is a fantastic experience for anyone who is a fan of the Wizarding World and I would not hesitate to recommend it to other disabled guests.
I would love to know what your favourite part of the tour was if you have visited? Or if you haven’t, what are you interested in seeing?