Wannabe witches, wizards, and magical creatures of all kinds gathered at Universal Orlando Resort for the third annual Celebration of Harry Potter event. The streets of Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade were filled with families enjoying all the wonders J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World had to offer. Highlights of the event included Rupert Grint’s (Ron Weasley) first return since the original opening of Hogsmeade, Pottermore’s announcement of new J.K. Rowling writing about 10 world-wide Wizarding schools, and a behind-the-scenes look at FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM. Universal Orlando invited us to cover the weekend long event, so continue reading for photos and VIDEOs of the 2016 Celebration of Harry Potter.
Universal’s Celebration of Harry Potter has turned into a mini-Comic Con focused solely on J.K. Rowling’s work. Like any good con, fans donned their favorite cosplay outfits to fully immerse themselves in the Wizarding World. Costumed participants included Hogwarts students, professors, magical creatures, and even one nearly-headless ghost.
The Hogwarts Sorting Hat ensured all new students were placed in their proper houses.
Fans eagerly waited in line 60 – 90 minutes or more to enter the Harry Potter Expo where Pottermore, Scholastic, Harry Potter: The Exhibition, MinaLima, and Warner Bros. Studio Tour London had large displays with interactive experiences.
As previously mentioned, Pottermore revealed new J.K. Rowling stories focused on ten Wizarding Schools around the world – including the North American school, Ilvermorny. My daughters were instantly on the Pottermore site trying to find out the hidden location of Ilvermornee, and the houses associated with the closest school to their home.
The Warner Bros. Studio Tour London occupied a large portion of the expo and gave fans a taste of the “Making of Harry Potter” tour in Leavesden, England complete with hand crafting of wands, costume and makeup displays, and a photo-op with a masked Death Eater.
Graphic design artists MinaLima displayed several screen used props such as the Marauder’s Map, Daily Prophet, posters and prints.
And, of course, there was a gift shop selling exclusive themed merchandise for the 2016 Celebration.
During the 2016 Celebration of Harry Potter opening event, the film stars gathered on the Music Plaza Stage and set off a flurry of fireworks with a flick of their wands. Click here for video highlights of the film cast’s Q&A with the media.
Universal’s Celebration of Harry Potter was co-sponsored by Warner Bros. Pictures, and, in addition to the actors, brought in some of the creative filmmaking team such as Pierre Bohanna, head prop maker from the Harry Potter film series. Bohanna shared stories of creating iconic props such as wands, broomsticks, and carving the Goblet of Fire out of a single piece of wood. Although he couldn’t share any secrets about the props for his most recent film he’s working on, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, but we did get a sneak peek behind the scenes.
While the film stars, wand dueling, and expo displaying movie props, costumes, books and merchandise were great, the best part of the Celebration was sharing a love and enjoyment of Harry Potter together as a family. This was my family’s first time stepping through the facade of London into Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, and nothing beat the magic of hearing my daughters’ gasp the first time they saw (and heard) the Ukranian Ironbelly dragon breath fire, rode Harry Potter and the escape from Gringotts, or boarded the Hogwarts Express to travel to Hogsmeade.
Yes, Universal’s Celebration of Harry Potter can get crowded. Lines for the Harry Potter Expo were at least 60-90 minutes (and sometimes much longer), and once inside fans found additional lines for the Sorting Hat experience and Warner Bros. Studio Tour. Fans packed the Music Plaza for Q&A panels with the film stars and evening events, and these crowds only grew throughout the weekend. However, if you could get to the Expo first thing Friday morning, and take advantage of early park admission for on site resort guests, one could still experience the fun of Harry Potter minus the jam packed crowds, and get pictures such as this… an empty Carkitt Market in Diagon Alley at 8:40am on Sunday, January 31.
If you’re a Harry Potter fan, you need to visit Universal Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and their annual Celebration of Harry Potter is a fantastic way to bond with fellow fans. Be sure to check out our tips & tricks for maximizing your enjoyment of Diagon Alley.
DISCLOSURE: Adventures by Daddy was hosted by Universal Orlando Resort for the purposes of attending the Celebration of Harry Potter and sharing coverage on our website. However, all opinions expressed are those of the author. For more family travel news, reviews, and trip reports, be sure to follow Adventures by Daddy on twitter and “like” our facebook page too.