This year’s “A Celebration of Harry Potter” #HPCelebration in Orlando, Florida was amazing. It was my first time visiting the park for this special occasion and I was fortunate to cover the event as a guest of Universal Orlando. My family and I are true fans of the Harry Potter films and also of Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Visiting The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, and creating this video and post to share was a pleasure. Join me during my journey through the parks and meet some of the fans who came from all over the world to celebrate Harry Potter.
Can’t see the #HPCelebration video? View it here!
Michael Gambon (Professor Albus Dumbledore)
Robbie Coltrane (Rubeas Hagrid)
Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood)
Fans attending the #HPCelebration were treated to a full schedule of events on the main stage, including talent and demonstrations:
- Behind the Scenes: Harry Potter Film Talent Discussion Fans enjoyed a fascinating and interactive Q&A session featuring some of our favorite actors from the Harry Potter films, discovering what it was like to work on the most successful film franchise in history.
- Duelling Demonstration (video) & Wand Combat Masterclass with Paul Harris (video) This live duelling masterclass, hosted by Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, featured the world‟s only Wand Combat choreographer, Paul Harris. Paul choreographed the epic battle scenes in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and was on hand to teach fans the technique behind wielding a wand.
- Creating The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Alan Gilmore, Art Director for the Harry Potter films, explained how he and his team brought the world of Harry Potter to life from the fiction to the films, and eventually in the two lands of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Universal Orlando’s Entertainment team shared how live shows in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley were created, as well as some of the hidden “secrets” and innovative interactive elements contained within The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
- Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films with MinaLima Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, from the graphic design studio MinaLima, shared insights into their role as Graphic Prop Designers for more than a decade on the Harry Potter movies. They discussed and showed some of the iconic props they created for the Harry Potter films, including the Marauder‟s Map, the Daily Prophet and The Quibbler, amongst others. Still immersed in all things Harry Potter, they also talked about their recent involvement in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.
- Illustration of Harry Potter with Kazu Kibuishi Award-winning illustrator Kazu Kibuishi, who reimagined the Harry Potter book covers for Scholastic, drew some of our favorite Harry Potter characters live on-stage in this interactive panel for all ages.
One of my favorite things to do at Universal’s Islands of Adventure is visiting Hogwarts. Inside the castle is where you can see many features from the Harry Potter movies such as the Great Hall, and Professor Dumbledore’s office, on the way to ride Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey.
HOGSMEADE AND HONEYDUKES
Strolling through Hogsmeade is a real treat. I felt like a wizard visiting the shops and checking out the delicious sweets in the Honeydukes candy shop. Hogsmeade is a “must see” and a wonderful experience for all ages. Meeting other fans in Hogsmeade made my visit even more fun.
In order to get over to Diagon Alley from Hogsmeade, I hopped on the Hogwarts Express (video), but not before having a little chat with the conductor. He assured me I would get to Kings Cross Station within a matter of minutes and I would be right on time for the next event. The ride was smooth and quite an enjoyable experience.
GRINGOTTS MONEY EXCHANGE – DIAGON ALLEY
While visiting the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley, you can exchange your dollars for real wizard currency. Available in denominations of $10 and $20, Gringotts Bank Notes, can be used by muggles (non magic folk) to make purchases in Diagon Alley and in Hogsmeade.
Feeling bold? Take your sweet time making decisions or step out of the line and the Gringotts Bank goblin teller will tell you a thing or two. He doesn’t play around…I know from personal experience. Please tell him I sent you!
Butterbeer is my favorite drink of all time, but it’s nice to be able to stop at street vendors along the way to enjoy some Gilly Water or Pumpkin Juice. These drinks and many more from the films are also served in the restaurants.
Some of my favorite Harry Potter fans by far were members of the Fink Family, creators of Transfiguring Adoption (formerly Hogwarts Adoption). Darren Fink and his wife, Margie, along with their four kids, teach families about adoption using the Harry Potter books as teaching tools (video).
“A CELEBRATION OF HARRY POTTER” EXPO
The Expo was held inside a Universal Orlando soundstage and was open to guests throughout the weekend.
The expo included the following booths and exhibits gave guests deeper insight into the global phenomenon that is Harry Potter:
- Harry Potter: The Exhibition Sorting Hat Experience (video) Are you a Gryffindor, or a Slytherin? A Hufflepuff? Perhaps a Ravenclaw? At the beginning of each school year the Sorting Hat sorts new Hogwarts students into the appropriate house, and at #HPCelebration, fans had the opportunity to get sorted in a Hogwarts-inspired setting…sponsored by Harry Potter™: The Exhibition.
- Warner Bros. Studio Tour London The production home of the Harry Potter film series, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London gave visitors the chance to step on to the actual sets used during filming. “A Celebration of Harry Potter” visitors got a chance to pose for a photo in a recreation of the iconic Great Hall.
- MinaLima Graphic designers Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima (video) Together they created countless pieces of unforgettable artwork, some of which were on display including iconic pieces such as the Marauder‟s Map, Daily Prophet and Hogwarts school books. Exclusive to the Celebration, they will be launching their brand new range of Harry Potter stationery, featuring original film graphic artwork. Limited edition prints based on the original prop designs were displayed.
- Pottermore from J.K. Rowling Fans showed their Hogwarts house colors and celebrated their pride with Pottermore from J.K. Rowling. For the millions of fans who have participated in the exclusive Sorting Hat quiz devised by J.K. Rowling herself, this was an amazing chance to take part in Pottermore’s Proudest House Contest.
- Scholastic Fans celebrated Harry Potter and shared messages about what Harry Potter means (video) to them. Award-winning illustrator Kazu Kibuishi, who re-imagined the Harry Potter book covers, was in attendance, and signed posters on Saturday, January 30.
- Warner Bros. Entertainment Do you have what it takes to defend yourself against a Dementor or soar above Hogwarts castle on Buckbeak (video)? Eager fans stepped into some of their favorite scenes with this magical photo experience while surrounded by authentic movie props from the Harry Potter films.
Showing house pride at the #HPCelebration wasn’t just encouraged…it was a must. With the fight for house points going on through Pottermore every student wanted to make sure points were awarded. Ultimately, Slytherin won the #HousePride war, but there’s always next year for
the other three houses…ahem, Gryffindor!
HARRY POTTER FAN COSPLAYERS & CHARACTERS
Meeting the Death Eaters (video), especially Bellatrix, was a real treat. It was fun to spend time with so many cosplayers. From Professor Trelawney and Luna Lovegood, to Harry Potter (video) himself, I met some of the biggest Harry Potter cosplay fans. I even tried to save Dobby, but I didn’t have any spare clothing to give him.
In my video, I asked Shelby and Veronika what is the one thing they HAVE TO DO before leaving the #HPCelebration, and they both responded with “Meet a Weasley twin.” (video) Well, do you believe in magic folks? Check out Veronika’s newest template for her next tattoo.
YES, my friends. That’s an actual autograph from James and Oliver Phelps! After my interview with Shelby and Veronika, we all went into the Expo together and within 10 minutes both girls were in tears and quivering. They met the Weasley twins and all was right with the world.
After flying in all the way from Brazil, Fernanda also got very lucky and was one of a limited number of attendees to have a meet and greet with members of the Harry Potter cast.
ALL GOOD THINGS MUST COME TO AN END
To top off the event, we enjoyed a Q&A session with Michael Gambon (Professor Albus Dumbledore), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), and James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley) . Unfortunately, Robbie Coltrane (Rubeas Hagrid), came down with flu symptoms on the flight to Orlando and was taken to the hospital. He missed the #HPCelebration events. The panel was wonderful regardless and I had such a great time hearing stories from the set and learning more about the characters that we have all grown to love. Here’s a Butterbeer CHEERS to looking forward to another #HPCelebration event next year.
“A CELEBRATION OF HARRY POTTER” AT HOME
The celebration might be over, but the party isn’t. Stick around The Chatty Momma and I’ll be sharing how to have “A Celebration of Harry Potter” At Home. In my #HPCelebration video, I mentioned the Harry Potter party that I recently threw for my girls and I’ll be sharing all my inside secrets to throwing a fabulous party for your family and friends. From creating spell books, and chocolate frogs, to the Platform 9 3/4 brick wall and your very own Sorting Hat. I’ll tell you the best places to get your supplies and how to DIY the very best Harry Potter props…so stay posted!
“It is our choices… that show what we truly are,
far more than our abilities.”
Albus Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets