The Making of Harry Potter - Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo
The 1rst Hogwarts Park in Asia
Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo - The Making of Harry Potter is the largest indoor theme park dedicated to the saga, inaugurated in June 16, 2023, and located in Nerima in the north-west of Tokyo. It offers a dive into the magic of the Harry Potter movies with behind-the-scene secrets, life-size decors and authentic costumes worn by the actors, all in the same place for the fans of the famous British wizard.
A first Harry Potter theme park 🎡 opened in London in 2012 and it is now Tokyo’s turn to have its own Wizarding World, since June 16, 2023. The venue is set on the former Toshimaen theme park in Nerima, a quiet residential neighborhood to the north-west of the capital’s center, and its official name is "Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo - The Making of Harry Potter" in English. It took 3 years to build the 30,000m² and arrange the site to the colors of Hogwarts, the famous sorcery school and it can boast:
- Being the world's largest indoor Harry Potter-themed park; and,
- The 1rst Warner Studios in Asia.
In the same fashion as the Ghibli Park inaugurated in November 2022 near Nagoya, these cinema studios do not have thrilling rides but offer a beautiful and interesting immersion in the universes of the Harry Potter and the Fantastic Beasts movies, all written by J. K. Rowling and produced by Warner Bros. in the United States. The course is identical to London studios’ with additional decors and new interactive installations.
Most of the tour is set indoors, with a small outdoor section in the middle of the course. Therefore, weather conditions have few impact on the visit and we recommend this visit on hot weather or rainy ☔️ days. Note that advance online booking is required. The day and hour of the tour can be selected upon availability, and the biggest Harry Potter fans may consider arriving early in the morning to make the most of their day at the park. The whole tour requires about 4 hours. Ticket reservation is available a few months in advance and can therefore be made when planning the trip.
Admission fees are moderate for a theme park in Japan, and are even less expensive than their London counterpart. The Yen 💴’s exchange rate in 2023 is indeed very advantageous to western tourists.
There, Toshimaen, the closest station, as well as the surroundings of the park are decorated with sculptures and nods to movies and the 3 main actors. We recommend arriving earlier than the hour set to enter the premisses so as to enjoy the atmosphere building up while approaching the Studios. Note that Nerima ward is relatively off Tokyo center and that the transportation time is also to be included in the timing of the visit.
Once inside, the movies’ original soundtracks, especially of the first 3 movies composed by John Williams, are played throughout the visit. Just before entering the studios, you’ll find a food hall and a souvenir shop selling: costumes to don for the occasion like the uniforms of the 4 houses of the school, and magic wands in a large array of choice. Now you are ready to explore the behind-the-scenes of Harry Potter movies.
Wanderings in the movies’ decors
After a first 15 minutes movie in English, visitors enter the studios through the fantastic Great Hall providing an instant immersion into Hogwarts’ universe. Several themed-spaces follow, regarding the making off special effects, the soundtrack, the animation of non-human characters, in short everything about the creation of the movies’ magic.
Iconic places are reconstituted in full scale on several shooting sets, and populated by mannequins dressed in the movies’ costumes and looking like the actors, such as:
- The common rooms of the Gryffindor and Slytherin houses;
- Professor Dumbledore’s office;
- Ancient books rows in the library;
- A path of the Forbidden Forest;
- The Dursley House at the 4 Privet Drive, with Harry’s bed in the closet under the stair (the only floor accessible is the ground floor);
- Several vehicles such as the purple Knight Bus;
- Platform 9 ¾ with the Hogwarts Express; and,
- The Ministry of Magic.
Pictures are allowed and one can even touch part of the decors to recreate a striking scene of the movie series.
In the same manner as the impressive Great Hall entrance, the visit ends on a high note at Diagon Alley, wandering in the streets of a fantasy retro London. One can’t help but wish being able to *magically* come in one of the shops.
Bonus interactive installations
Fans of the Harry Potter saga will be delighted to take part in activities allowing them to become for a moment a protagonist in one of the movies scenes. At Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo, there are 3 interactive installations to try during the visit, where you can:
- Take the place of one of the living portraits hanged in the gallery with the moving stairway;
- Attend a Quidditch match and support your favorite team; and,
- Fly in the air like a real-life wizard on a magic broom.
There will certainly be a waiting line for these popular activities, after which you can download a short edited movie featuring yourself, that make a nice customized souvenir.
The various spaces are lit up in such ways that one feels like a day is passing, as if moving through the indoor studios in a filmed story, starting on the daytime and ending at night.
Themed cafes and shops within the studios
As for food, the studios are not outdone and various themed cafes can be found along the way, with sweet or savory dishes, and typical food that Harry and his comrades would eat. However, without much surprise, the look of the food is better than its taste and prices can sometimes be quite expensive.
If we had only one choice, we would take again in a heartbeat the delicious Butterbeer at the Butterbeer Bar in the outdoor part of the park. The drink served here is non-alcoholic, made with sugary soda. The plastic cup can be brought back home thanks to an area at the exit of the cafe to wash and wrap it.
Several souvenir shops are spread throughout the park, with a large array of official merch from tiny gadgets to luxury items such as purses. Thanks to the Japanese savoir faire a kawaii set of goods is also available, featuring Harry Potter like an anime character.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour Tokyo - The Making of Harry Potter ‘s inauguration was much-awaited and is really worth the detour to Tokyo’s north-western periphery. Early days fans should not be disappointed and the others can just watch the 1rst movie to be able to get most of the references. The whole exhibition is displayed in English, as per the original story of Harry Potter, and in Japanese.
Touring the studios is pleasant despite the crowd, thanks to visitors caps on each hours slot. During our visit, we mainly saw adults and a few families with children.