(Scroll down for 2018 update)
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 and 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.
My partner got me tickets for my birthday in November when we moved to the UK, but we had to wait another few months as they had been sold out until the new year. Finally 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.
(2018 EDIT) I am happy to edit this post after returning to HP Studios and finding that the Backlot Cafe now have a little vegan menu when you ask at the counter. So happy to see this change after last years visit, finding that even the falafel salad wasn’t vegan! This new vegan menu had a soup, a pasta dish as well as how to order the veg burger to make it vegan. I can’t attest to the quality since I ate before in preparation to not be able to get anything, but so nice that there are now options. Also the Butter Beer is vegan friendly! 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!
Moving on to the gift shop! Not much from Honey Dukes is vegan except the Peppermint Toads. I originally thought the Every flavour beans were, but they actually have beeswax in them. As far as merchandise goes, the red and gold striped Gryffindor scarves (and other houses) are 100%synthetic. Unfortunately most of the other cute knitwear was made from wool. 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 any Harry Potter fan. If you don’t feel like chancing it with the vegan menu, you can always bring your own packed lunch!