A Celebration of Harry Potter runs from January 29 to 31, 2016, at Universal Orlando Resort, with events in both Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure. The event is packed with panels, displays, demonstrations, celebrity Q & A sessions, and more. There’s so much going on that it’s virtually impossible to see everything, even if you come for all three days. That’s especially true if you didn’t book Universal’s special vacation package, which gives priority entrance to many of the events. They’re open to day ticket holders, too, but you’ll need to do some pre-planning to make the most of your experience:
1) Get a two-park ticket. As I mentioned, the event spans both parks, so having a two-park ticket lets you move around freely. It also allows you to ride the Hogwarts Express between Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure…make that Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade…which is a must-do for any Harry Potter fan.
2) Plan your day. Go to Orlando Informer for a full schedule of events and their locations and plan your days in advance.
3) See the Expo on Friday. The panels and demonstrations run mainly on Saturday and Sunday, so arrive early on Friday and spend most of the day browsing in the Expo. That way, you can fill the next two days with a mad rush of running to the presentations and demos.
4) Decide on your priorities. There’s no way to see or do it all, so it’s critical to make a plan that focuses on your must-dos. The events happen in both parks and run nearly back to back, which means that when you see one, you might not have enough time to get back in line and get in the next one. Most of the presentations run on both Saturday and Sunday, which should help you make a viable plan to fit your favorites in over the course of the two days.
5) Be prepared for lots of waiting. This event is wildly popular, so get in line at your must-dos as early as possible and be prepared to wait around. Florida weather is fickle, so depending on the forecast, bring layers that you can easily add if it gets colder out later in the day. You may have to wait to get into the expo, too, as Universal limits the number of people inside to keep things from getting too crowded and crazy. Package holders get priority entrance, which adds a bit to the “general public” wait.
Want to get a flavor of the event? Check out the video accompanying this article, which includes the whole nearly 90 minute opening in 2014. If you’d like to see a video of the 2015 opening, go here.