I fell in love with the Harry Potter books when I was 22, yes I know thats pretty old to be starting a children’s series. Better late than never! The year before, while travelling in New Zealand I read bits and pieces of the books and loved the wizarding world, so I once I was a stable person and no longer had to carry my possessions in my backpack, I got started. Over the summer I binge read all 7 books, then felt severely depressed when HP and his fam were gone from my life. So the next year My partner and I took turns reading the books aloud to each other – mostly him to me because I couldn’t get enough of his Hagrid voice. Now as a 28 year old I am reading the series again for a third time and still finding new things I love about it. Like most Harry Potter fans I also love the movies, not quite as much as the books but they are pretty wonderful and I watch them most years around Christmas time. I sound obsessed.
A few years ago I heard of the Harry Potter Studio tour while I was visiting the UK over Christmas and tried to get tickets, alas it was sold out all through January. So when we moved to London last year I knew I wanted to go. My partner got me tickets for my birthday in November, because we needed to go on a weekend, that meant the tickets for late January. A whole 2 months to get hyped!
Finally a few weeks ago the day had arrived and we were off. We had booked our lovely dog sitter so we could be gone all day and not have to worry. We took our time and had a nice brunch, then took the tube to Euston then a National Rail train to Watford. At the Watford station we found there was a “courtesy bus” waiting for us.This bus however however costs £2.50 (cash only), so not exactly what I would call a courtesy bus. It is about a 15 minute bus ride from there so I think an Uber would be around the same price if you were going with 3-4 people.
Now I don’t want to get into what you get to see and what sets are there because I found it really nice to not know much about what I was getting myself into and just enjoyed the experience. What I do want to get into is answering the question “is it vegan friendly?” So lets get into it.
We were feeling optimistic because the menu at the Backlot Cafe had a falafel salad, but when we inquired about it, the staff told us it is not vegan. So thats that. No vegan meals are available from the cafe, but you are able to bring your own lunches into the Backlot Cafe and eat them there. We ate a large brunch before we went in and had reservations for dinner afterwards so no big deal for us. What they did have that was vegan friendly was Butter Beer! Well sort of. You just have to ask for it without the cream topping. It definitely wasn’t as cute without the bubbly foam on top but I was just so happy I got to try it! It tastes basically like cream soda but because it’s Butter Beer, it was much better.
Moving on to the gift shop! There was not much vegan candy from Honey Dukes but the Peppermint Toads are vegan and actually pretty tasty. Also the Every flavour beans are vegan, though I was not brave enough to try them, with flavours like vomit, dirt and rotten eggs! My partner did bring them into his office and managed to convince someone to try the vomit flavour, apparently it’s gross.. go figure. As far as merchandise goes, I was a bit disappointed. Though the red and gold striped Gryffindor scarves (and other houses)are 100%synthetic. Unfortunately most of the other cute knitwear was made from wool. So I left with my beans and toads. Something realized too late was if you find something you like, a Quidditch team t-shirt for example, from the gift shop near the Hogwarts Express, get it there as they don’t have all the same things in the final shop.
Overall Harry Potter Studios was a really fun afternoon for an obsessive fan (me) and a normal fan (my partner), just be prepared. Eat before you come or bring food. If you have eaten before but plan to spend lots of time walking around seeing everything, bring some snacks and a water bottle. The people working at the security check were happy to let us in with a bag full of vegan donuts we bought on the way!