Harry Potter Studio Tour: Knight Bus, Privet Drive, and Backlot | 2016 London and Paris Trip Report

Chapter 15
On the Backlot

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When you read about the Harry Potter Studio Tour, they typically say to allow at least 3 hours (or 4 hours for fans who really want to take in everything). Now, we had already been on the tour for 3 hours by the time we reached the halfway point. Whoops. At least now it was time for lunch.

We were quite hungry and ready to eat at the Backlot Cafe. We placed our food order.

And then we went to the Butterbeer stand to order a cup of the delicious drink.

We got our Butterbeer a little while before our food was ready. This one had a really nice amount of foam on top (unlike some of the cups we’d gotten at Universal).

There weren’t great options available for lunch, but we thought the mac and cheese would be a pretty safe choice. Unfortunately, this was super bizarre. We liked the breadcrumbs on top adding some texture, but the cheese that was on here simply didn’t taste good. I don’t honestly know what kind of cheese it even was. And it was served on top of/next to an arugula salad? That’s another very odd choice that was not great.

The cafe looked out onto the backlot area, so after eating, we took a walk outside. The Knight Bus was there in all its purple glory.

I might have liked the bus stop even a little more than the bus itself. Again, such great attention to detail.

We stepped up onto the bus and could look into the dormitories. The stairs were roped off, though, as was the actual interior.

I wish the Knight Bus could go underwater…

I’m sure the license plate is a reference to something, but I don’t know what.

I could never decide how I felt about the shrunken head in the third movie, but I do think it’s a fun effect when you visit the Knight Bus at Universal Orlando.

Look at all these Butterbeer barrels that were against the wall. I’d like to tap one and drink it all.

The next major set was one of the most impressive on the tour. The houses on Privet Drive (including Number 4) were filmed on location for the first movie, but then the filmmakers decided it would be more cost-effective/take less time to film if they just built a whole block of houses on the backlot. So the Dursleys’ house — and their neighbors’ — got perfectly replicated here.

There was a queue to get into the house, where visitors could walk through the front hallway and past the living room.

Look, it’s Number 4!

Okay, so inside the Dursely home were some of my very favorite pieces of set dressing. You have Dudley’s distance award for running 5 meters and his certificate for being the table monitor.

Also this headmaster’s award for always eating his lunch!

Here was the front hallway. It just has a super depressing aura about it that makes it seem terrible to live there.

As we passed the living room, we could see that it was full of Hogwarts letters.

Every detail of this scene is just so cool.

It’s a bit of a misnomer to say that they replicated the complete houses. The front facades were there, and there were a couple rooms inside, but once we passed the living room, we could see that the back half of the house didn’t really exist. Instead we were spat out behind the structure and could see all the studs.

Looking at the house next to Number 4, you can see that it really is only half a house.

The backlot buildings had all been moved into one place for the tour, even though they weren’t all together for the actual filming. So just a few steps from Privet Drive was Harry’s parents’ house in Godric’s Hollow, which had been blasted apart during the whole curse backfiring incident.

And then next to that was the Hogwarts bridge that been added for movie three and was later featured in all the other films.

We had the opportunity to walk across the bridge. It’s such a funny set when it’s just on the ground and not straddling any sort of ravine.

Here it is from the outside.

Several of the giant chess pieces were out in front of the tour entrance, but others lined the walls of the backlot.

The size of these is really impressive and super imposing when you stand next to them.

There was also a flying Ford Anglia not actually flying. But it was full of some of those aforementioned loud schoolchildren.

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About Wandering Mouseketeers

We are Taylor and Tracy — husband and wife from Boulder, CO — and we love all things Disney, as well as general travel. This website was originally created to showcase our Walt Disney World, Disneyland, and Disney Cruise Line trip reports, but we've also got an entire series of blog posts about what it was like to live for a year and a half in Orange County, CA. Hopefully you'll enjoy reading about our various adventures. All of our Disney trip reports have lots of pictures and details that you can use to plan your next vacation!