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Harry Potter Studios - any advice for making it as easy as possible with an autistic child? When's quietest etc?

(26 Posts)
BoobsOnTheMoon Mon 31-Aug-20 08:00:06

As title really smile

My 10 yr old isn't going back to school (not due to Covid, this has been on the cards a long time as there is no suitable school for 50 miles) so we aren't tied to holidays and can go pretty much whenever. We will stay overnight with family in London as we live on the opposite side of the country, so we can book for any time of day.

How helpful/understanding are the staff? Do they do carer tickets as the website doesn't make it clear :/ Any advice on what days/times are quietest? Or any other suggestions for making it as ASD friendly as possible?

OP’s posts: |
sd249 Mon 31-Aug-20 08:08:38

They don't do carer tickets on the website but do if you ring up.

They are BRILLIANT with disabilities there. If you make it known to them you don't have to queue at the start and will be taken into the first room before everyone else, this room is quite small and intense/crowded so its good to be in there first as you can be right by the doors to get out quicker.

Aside from the first room I don't think there is much that will affect an ASD child too much as the rest you can stop anywhere, there are lots of dark, quiet corners to stop and take breaks but maybe ensure they know that they can't go back once gone through to another bit.

The staff are all excellent there - so good with people with disabilities, one of the best places we have ever been for that.

BoobsOnTheMoon Mon 31-Aug-20 08:11:56

Fantastic thank you @sd249

I'll ring them to book in that case. We get out and about a lot but apart from the major London museums we've never done a big name attraction before. We stick to smaller venues usually, or outdoor things.

Did you need any proof of disability for the carer ticket? I can provide a DLA letter, I just need to take a copy with me if I'll need it.

OP’s posts: |
babbafett Mon 31-Aug-20 08:14:21

I'm guessing a school day morning would be quieter or could be filled with younger pre school kids which could be worse.
I'd ring them and see if they offer any assistance. Some aspects might be overwhelming. The very start people are tightly packed in (probably not now tho due to covid so that will help) and watch a introduction on large screens around the room. Potential for sensory overload there.
From what I remember there is a flow of how you go through the tour with a natural break where there is a cafe and outside area. I dont know how easy it would be to get to the outdoor area (which is much quieter) if your son needed a break. The staff surely have a quicker way at getting through so might be worth checking with them if you feel he would need a sensory break.
The forbidden forest section is amazing but lots of sounds of lightening, big spiders and smoke machine etc.
Off the top of my head they are the two areas that might be more difficult to navigate through. The staff are very professional and have probably had similar requests so I'd definitely email or call them to ask how they could support your family

ipswichwitch Mon 31-Aug-20 08:16:03

They have a visual guide of the tour in their website here
You could print it out for your DC a to look through and prepare for the visit. They also have a sensory room should you need to have a little time out. I’m guessing now may be a good time to go if they are restricting visitor numbers and crowds due to Covid.

aShinyNewUsername Mon 31-Aug-20 08:16:33

There won’t be a quieter time as it’s all pre-booked as you have to book weeks or months in advance.
Therefore always the same number of people in every session.

Bupkis Mon 31-Aug-20 08:16:58

Ring them to book a carers ticket and ask about jumping the queue (which can be a very long wait in a very crowded overwhelming room)

When we took ds and his sisters, they were fantastic - they also had a quiet room we could use, and helped out when ds was overwhelmed by the dark, scary woods! We also found the handheld audio/video device with headphones really helpful - we use a sn buggy on days out, and when ds found it a bit much, he watched/listened to this (with a sheet over his head!) The only thing we found difficult was finding somewhere to eat (We had a picnic, as the cafe was manic and busy, but as it was raining it was quite busy under any shelter outside) D's also struggled in the very busy shop on the way out. (Dh ended up taking him out so girls could buy something)

We did have a fantastic day there though!

Girraffophant Mon 31-Aug-20 08:18:12

We went the other day and it was the most fantastic day out. They have limited visitor numbers dramatically, so we experienced no queues and could look at everything very easily. Masks are required for the whole day - except when sitting to eat in the restaurant. If your dc is exempt, they will provide a badge to say so. Cleanliness was being maintained constantly with staff available to clean anything that had been touched.

Girraffophant Mon 31-Aug-20 08:22:30

When we went, there was about 4 families in the first room, so there was no cramming in at all. We then went in to the cinema bit with those 4 families - filling hardly any of the seats!
I don't know if it is always so few in those parts at the moment, or if we got particularly lucky, but I had heard visitor numbers are a quarter of what they usually are, so now is a great time to go.

ASchuylerSister Mon 31-Aug-20 08:24:11

I would try and go ASAP OP whilst they are still limiting visitor numbers due to Covid. There were mid week tickets available when my friend booked yesterday.

We went last week and had the best time. Hardly anyone there as they’re running at less than 50% capacity - felt like we had the place to ourselves!

PrayingandHoping Mon 31-Aug-20 08:25:23

We've been term times a few times and it's never been rammed. Not even the first room. They stagger people going on so it doesn't happen

At the moment they are selling even less tickets due to Covid so it will be even quieter

It's bound to be quieter late afternoon because u won't have as much time in there.... but I don't think it would be worth going if u didn't have time to take your time!

Girraffophant Mon 31-Aug-20 08:25:26

We got the headphones, which was interesting to listen to - I just found it a bit of a sensory overload with also wearing a mask.

jellybeanteaparty Mon 31-Aug-20 08:27:59

I have taken several groups of people with a mix of disabilities. They ask for a DLA letter or similar to prove disability for the free carer ticket. The staff have good training in awareness of disability and were generally very helpful. First aiders have a green spot on their name tags and they have a great medical room with shower and changing bench.They have sunflower lanyards to borrow which the staff recognise. The have recently added a quiet room for people with autism to take some time out - you may want to ask about that.
Hope you have a lovely time.

Grimmauldface Mon 31-Aug-20 08:30:07

Like others have already said, we found staff at the tour to be really helpful and understanding.

DS is such a HP fan he found some confidence and enjoyed engaging with the very knowledgeable staff on a one to one basis at various points throughout the tour.

The cafe was crowded and noisy but we took our own food and ate outside where it was calmer and we made sure to avoid peak meal times.

The shop was the biggest issue. We've been a couple of times, the first resulted in a shop-induced meltdown. The next time I made sure we got a ticket for first thing in the morning and we went to the shop before entering the tour when it was still quiet. Most people complain about how expensive the shop is (which is true!) but with a child who struggles with crowds, noise and indecision the shop was by fair the biggest stress of the day.

We found there is plenty of space throughout the tour. Plus I'm assuming with covid restrictions in place it is a lot quieter at the moment so the cafe and shop might not be such an issue.

Good luck!

Girraffophant Mon 31-Aug-20 08:30:07

Our time slot was 12pm and it was so quiet when we arrived. They are staggering the carpark even, with only allowing parking in alternate bays and you are required to wear a mask as soon as you leave the car. So the carpark was very quiet, no queues on entry or after that.
It felt a bit busier when we were leaving at around 5.

BoobsOnTheMoon Mon 31-Aug-20 08:30:45

How long does anyone think the Covid limits on visitor numbers will last? He's just looked at the website and is now desperate to go for the Christmas season which starts on 14th November, he really wants to see snow on Diagon Alley.

OP’s posts: |
Girraffophant Mon 31-Aug-20 09:09:50

I really don't know, but I suppose it's likely to continue until we are out of this 😬🤷‍♀️.

FourEyesGood Mon 31-Aug-20 09:16:42

I wanted to book for DD’s birthday (mid-November) but the only slots available were after 6pm - not realistic for us with travelling, etc. So DD is going to have to make do with a card telling her we’re going in February instead.

Just a heads-up for anyone thinking of booking. There’s hardly any availability at all! sad

ProfessorInkling Mon 31-Aug-20 09:22:50

Hogwarts in the snow is amazing. Staff are excellent - so helpful, they know everything you could ever think of asking and their customer service is unbeatable.

It’s worth checking back for slots frequently as they release tickets after people cancel.

Girraffophant Mon 31-Aug-20 09:57:53

Totally agree with that Professor. The staff were amazing and especially with the added hygiene too.

Girraffophant Mon 31-Aug-20 09:59:13

Yes to checking for tickets regularly - we checked on one day last week and managed to get tickets for 3 days later.

BoobsOnTheMoon Mon 31-Aug-20 17:06:59

@FourEyesGood - there's loads of availability for November now, we got 11.30am on a weekday and every other time that day was also available to book, same for the days either side smile

We are so excited!!

OP’s posts: |
JeffVaderneedsatray Mon 31-Aug-20 17:17:40

Both my two have ASCs. We went to HP world last year. I got a carer's ticket as DS gets DLA. I had to book DS's ticket and then ring up and they added a ticket for me.

I was very impressed with the information on the website - there was a sort of scoial story about how the tour worked that DS and DD read. On arrival at the car park we were offered disabled parking space but turned it down as we had no need and wanted to leave them for others.

Both DS and DD coped reasonably well with the queues but DD lost the plot twice - once in the woods where a lovely staff member appeared like magic and wafted us through the short cut and once when she'd been promised 'no more spiders' and then there was a model of Aragog hanging from a ceiling. Again a staff member swooped in and distracted her and helped me cajole her past and through into another room.
I found the shop very difficult - I was hot and cross and tired by that point so we were in and out quickly.

We went late in the afternoon - it made for a long day but it was worth it. DS had been once before with school as part of a residential and wanted to go back.

FourEyesGood Mon 31-Aug-20 18:58:59

@BoobsOnTheMoon I’m glad for you! I can’t go on a weekday, though - I’m a teacher and I’m not sure that my head would be pleased with me taking the day off for a fun trip to the Harry Potter studios. grin

Tavimama Mon 31-Aug-20 19:20:24

We were there on Friday and while it is busy, they have cut numbers drastically so there are no overcrowding issues.

Be aware there are a couple of areas where there are very loud noises and lots of lights/smoke - ear protectors sound be used if your small person is sensitive.

The cafe area was well spaced - some of the layout has changed, but for the better in my opinion, especially the shop, which is well spaced and wasn't at all busy when we went.

Have fun /*

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