Tuesday, 6 May 2014

OUT AND ABOUT: Harry Potter Walking Tour

What: Harry Potter Walking Tour
Where: Leicester Square to Kings Cross, London
When: 4th May, 2 - 4:30pm
Ticket Price: £11 for 2 (Wowcher deal; usually £20pp)

What was it?
A Celebrity Planet tour of the famous London sites depicted in the eight Harry Potter movies, beginning outside the Leicester Square Odeon where the world premieres for each film was held to Kings Cross St Pancras, the beginning of Harry’s journey to Hogwarts.

My sister found a deal for this on Wowcher and after our brilliant experience with the Jack the Ripper tour in March we decided to give it a go.

The Tour
There are lots of stop on the Harry Potter walking tour, but the first stop after leaving Leicester Square is Cecil Court which inspired Diagon Alley. It’s a little side street filled with bookshops, one of them the oldest Occultist bookshop in London, and another that sells Harry Potter money. We also visited Great Scotland Yard where the Ministry of Magic is based. Warner Bros wanted to use the Ministry of Defence but obviously weren’t allowed so they settled for one of the grand looking buildings nearby instead. Then we walked down a road full of very swish hotels, including the one Emma Watson stayed in during the filming of these scenes.

We passed the Globe where David Tennant who played Barty Crouch Jr got married on the way to Southwark which inspired Knockturn Alley (the only bit of the tour where I saw the street and my brain screamed ‘Harry Potter’) before walking over to Borough Market. Across the road from the market’s entrance is a florist that was the building used for the outside of the Leaky Couldron and the street that the Knight Bus flew down and set of a car’s alarm. And on a non-Harry Potter related note, it was just across from the pub that was the flat Bridget lives in in Bridget Jones’ Diary! Our next stop was my favourite – a ferry ride to Millenium Bridge! After that we walked to Bank where we caught the Tube to Kings Cross station.

I was pretty excited to see the Platform 9 ¾ tribute, but it has actually been moved off of the platform and into the main station as it was causing massive disruption. It’s actually kinda small and there was a huge queue to get a picture at it. It was sadly underwhelming. Me and my sister decided to give it a miss and headed straight for the gift shop. It’s a tiny and massively expensive gift shop so I decided to save my money to the huge and massively expensive one at the Leavesden Studios next month.

As with most experiences like this, it’s the guides who may or break it. We were incredibly lucky with our jack the Ripper tour leader as he knew so much about everything and was genuine and interesting and funny. I didn’t get the same feeling from the two guys who led this tour. There was sarcasm, slight derision and even patronising tendencies at the fangirlishness of some of the tour group. I don’t even believe one of them likes the films or the books and I thought the same of the other guy until we chatted to him. Turns out he’s been to the Studios eight times. Eight. Okay, he is a fan after all.

This is going to sound pretty bad but one of the things that distanced me most from the tour guides was how they had to talk so slowly and basically using lots of miming gestures because most of the tour group were tourists. It was really quite irritating and I was glad they didn’t actually talk much more than to point things out and give a few anecdotes. The group itself was pretty unfortunate; there was a distinct lack of enthusiasm, rudely talking over the guys leading the tour and wandering away from the group. I was a little disappointed.

Overall Opinion
We had lovely sunshine and got to see bits of the city that we wouldn’t normally see which was lovely, but I wouldn’t pay full price for this tour. Most of the sites were CGIed so heavily for the films (with the exception of Millenium Bridge) that not much was recognisable as being from Harry Potter, but it was still something different and a pleasant few hours.

Verdict: 5/10

Disclaimer: I wasn't in any way encouraged, paid or asked by Celebrity Planet to review this tour. This is entirely from my own want to share the experience.



  1. Awww, this sounds like it could have been really good - just goes to show how a tour guide and the tour group can influence how enjoyable something can be.

  2. I think this is the same tour that Kirsty and I did last year. We'd booked it weeks in advance so typically it ended up being a wet and miserable day which was really disappointing. We actually had a fantastic tour guide though & he was able to tell us so much information about the locations and the movies so it's a shame that the guys with you weren't as good as he was. We didn't queue up for pictures at the station either - it would have taken FOREVER & I was disappointed with the shop (both for the ridiculous prices and for the small range of things on sale).

    These walking tours are always a nice way of finding parts of London that you wouldn't necessarily come across otherwise though :o) I've done a Jack the Ripper one too & that was really interesting.


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