A Celebration of Harry Potter is back for its third year, and you can easily tell the influence of the upcoming movie and play…the crowd is bigger than ever! The celebration has everything that makes it special, along with some brand new offerings. As always, you’ll see celebrities from the Harry Potter movies and have a chance to browse through memorabilia in the Expo. Islands of Adventures will host panels on both Saturday and Sunday if you’d like to learn about various aspects of the movies in more depth.
I attended day one, and as always, it was a whirlwind of fun and excitement. I’ve shared some of the highlights below. A Celebration of Harry Potter 2016 continues at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure on January 30 and 31, and most of the vents are included with your regular park ticket. Just be prepared to wait; it can take an hour or more just to get into the expo, and you definitely need to arrive early for the panels.
After browsing through the photos, go here for a video of the full opening ceremony and here to hear from the Harry Potter celebrities.
Warner Brothers Studio Tour
Normally you have to go to London for the Harry Potter studio tour. but Warner Brothers sent a bit of it to Universal Studios Florida this year. You’ll see hands-on demonstrations of wand making and also get to see make-up props from the movies up close. You’ll probably find a long line for the tour, but it’s worth the wait just to see wands being crafted or viewing teeth, wigs, and even moles that were actually used in the movie. I did the four on day one and was utterly fascinated, especially by the wand making and the explanation of how different materials were used for various types in the movies.
Beware at the end of the studio tour. There’s someone waiting to meet you. Alas, I didn’t have my wand with me, but thankfully he let me pass with just a mild threat. As I mentioned, the tour itself is well worth the wait, but the Death Eater photo op is the piece de resistance. If you do bring your wand, he’ll most definitely challenge you.
The celebrity panel discussion is typically the most popular, but there’s actually a wide variety of panels going on Saturday and Sunday at Islands of Adventure. For example, you can learn about prop making from Pierre Bohanna, head prop maker from the films, or learn about wand dueling from wand combat choreographer, Paul Harris. On day one, I was thrilled to hear from the celebrities, who shared stories from their days on the set and also some memories of Alan Rickman.
At the grand opening ceremony on the evening of day one, I learned about the big reveal of four additional wizarding schools, three of which are already on Pottermore, with one more coming soon. That fourth one? The United States! You can just imagine the ripple of excitement that announcement brought through the crowd gathered elbow to elbow in from the of the Music Plaza Stage.
As if the Pottermore reveals weren’t enough excitement for one night, the audience joined in casting a spell that brought an amazing light show overhead. I always love fireworks, and they were the perfect capper to an amazing day one of A Celebration of Harry Potter 2016.