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A Celebration of Harry Potter 2013

 

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Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. are hosting “A Celebration of Harry Potter” at Universal Orlando – a special event for fans of all ages that will celebrate all of Harry’s adventures, from the beloved books to the Warner Bros. feature films.

A Celebration of Harry Potter - Universal Orlando Resort.

A Celebration of Harry Potter – Universal Orlando Resort.

Running Friday, January 24 through Sunday, January 26, fans will enjoy three days of unforgettable experiences – including interactive Q&As with Harry Potter talent and more. Below we present an overview of the event, followed by the specific scheduling and our frequently asked questions.

If you’d like, you can skip to the schedule or you can skip to our FAQs.

IMPORTANT NOTE ABOUT ADMISSION: Most of the activities for this special event are open to anyone who has general admission to Universal’s theme parks – including all Annual Passholders – on a first-come-first-served basis. When this event was originally announced last year, there was a special vacation package offered that included reserved seatings and admission to all activities, but the vacation package sold out almost immediately.

 

A Celebration of Harry Potter: Overview

Guests will have the opportunity to:

  • Meet Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood, @Evy_Lynch), James Phelps (Fred Weasley, @James_Phelps), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley, @OliverPhelps) – and, announced January 20, Mark Williams (Arthur Wesley) and Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom, @Mattdavelewis)
  • Kick off the celebration with a Harry Potter Tribute on Friday – a special evening event featuring select cast members and award-winning artist, Kazu Kibuishi, who recently reimagined the Harry Potter book covers
  •  Be a part of panel discussions with MinaLima – creators of the graphics seen in the movies
  • Get an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at Pottermore.com – the free interactive website from J.K. Rowling (Saturday & Sunday)
  • Explore the one-of-a-kind Harry Potter Expo with interactive activities for fans, including a vignette of movie props from Harry Potter: The Exhibition and The Sorting Hat experience
  • Attend Q&A sessions with Harry Potter talent, filmmakers, and other special guests (talent attendees will be announced at a later date)
  • Revisit some of their favorite Harry Potter film moments during a film tribute with Harry Potter talent and filmmakers (talent attendees will be announced at a later date)
  • Learn the art of “duelling” at a wand masterclass that’s featured at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter and hosted by Paul Harris – the choreographer who trained the cast of the Harry Potter films

Guests will also have access to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, located in Universal’s Islands of Adventure, where they can soar above Hogwarts on the thrilling attraction, Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, sip Butterbeer at the Hog’s Head pub, see a wand choose a wizard in Ollivander’s, explore iconic shops like Honeydukes, Zonko’s, and more.

While most of the activities for “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will be open to all Universal Orlando park guests and Annual Passholders, only guests who purchase the special event package will enjoy exclusive benefits and reserved seating for select events. Packages are extremely limited and go on sale at noon EST on Thursday, August 22, 2013. UPDATE: These special vacation packages sold out almost immediately.

Please note that this is a one-time special event; “A Celebration of Harry Potter” is not a recurring annual event like Universal’s Mardi Gras or Halloween Horror Nights.

 

A Celebration of Harry Potter: Admission

To be a part of this special celebration, you may choose to purchase a vacation package with special benefits starting from $395 per adult. As noted above, sales start August 22, 2013. UPDATE: These special vacation packages sold out almost immediately. However, for reference purposes, we’ve left the information on this page.

Vacation sold-out package included:

  • 3-night hotel accommodations
  • 3-day park-to-park ticket to both theme parks per day
  • Entry to a Private Evening Event held in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, (includes one free Butterbeer and light desserts) (Saturday)
  • Reserved area for the Harry Potter Film Tribute (Friday)
  • Reserved area for the Q&A sessions (Saturday & Sunday)
  • Reserved area for a wand masterclass with Paul Harris
  • Early Park Admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – one hour before the park opens
  • Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks – one per person

 

For those not interested in purchasing a package, most of the special events are included with general admission to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure on a first-come-first-served basis, such as:

  • Panel discussions & Q&A sessions
  • Harry Potter Expo
  • A wand masterclass with Paul Harris

 

A Celebration of Harry Potter: Scheduled activities

Kick off – Friday at 7:30pm

Universal Studios Florida – Universal Music Plaza

The celebration’s festivities officially kick off with a special Friday evening event starring several of the cast members of the Harry Potter film series and award-winning illustrator Kazu Kibuishi, who recently reimagined the Harry Potter book covers. You’ll enjoy film clips, Q&A sessions with the cast members, and a first glimpse at exclusive new details about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley, opening Summer 2014.

My Life on the Harry Potter Film Set: Talent Q&A – Saturday at 10:00am & 2:00pm; Sunday at 3:30pm

Islands of Adventure – Toon Lagoon Amphitheater

Enjoy a fascinating and entertaining panel discussion featuring some of your favorite actors from the Harry Potter films. Learn what it’s like to work on a major motion picture and be part of film history. For those guests without reserved seating, admission into the theaters will be granted on a first-come-first-served basis.

Go Behind the Scenes of Pottermore.com – Saturday at 11:30am

Islands of Adventure – Toon Lagoon Amphitheater

Pottermore’s Creative Director gives an exclusive insight into the creation of Moment artwork for Pottermore.com, and a look at the next installment of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Plus, get ready for an exclusive reveal as he shares his favorite upcoming new entry from J.K. Rowling.

Duelling Demonstration & Wand Combat Masterclass – Saturday at 3:30pm; Sunday at 11:30am

Islands of Adventure – Toon Lagoon Amphitheater

Discover the art of duelling and delve into the world of wand combat as Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter presents a spellbinding masterclass with 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 will be on hand to teach you the technique behind wielding a wand – with the help of a special guest.

Bringing the Harry Potter Films to the Theme Park: Set and Prop Design – Sunday at 10:00am

Islands of Adventure – Toon Lagoon Amphitheater

Harry Potter film and theme park Set Designer Alan Gilmore and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Prop Master Eric Baker will present a look at how ideas move from the books to screen, and then become reallife theme park experiences.

Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films with MinaLima – Sunday at 11:30am

Islands of Adventure – Toon Lagoon Amphitheater

Graphic designers Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina from the studio MinaLima will discuss their ten-year involvement in establishing the visual graphic style on the film productions of Harry Potter and present some of the iconic props they created for the films, including the Marauder’s Map, the Daily Prophet and The Quibbler.

 

Harry Potter Expo: Schedule & details

The Harry Potter Expo will be held inside Soundstage 33, accessible via Universal Studios Florida, and will be open to guests throughout the weekend:

Friday, January 24 from 4:00pm to 7:00pm
Saturday & Sunday, January 26 from 9:00am to 7:00pm

The expo will include booths and exhibits that will give guests deeper insight into the various manifestations of the Harry Potter series.

Harry Potter: The Exhibition

Guests will get an up-close look at the artistry and craftsmanship that went into creating the iconic costumes that have appeared throughout the Harry Potter film series. They will also have the opportunity to get sorted into Hogwarts houses during a Sorting Hat experience.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London

This interactive experience will feature a duelling presentation by the world’s only Wand Combat Choreographer, Paul Harris.

MinaLima

Limited edition artworks and reproductions based on original prop designs will be on display, including iconic pieces, such as the Marauder’s Map and the Daily Prophet. A selection of original graphic props from the films will also be on display, and on-hand to meet guests will be Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima.

Pottermore from J.K. Rowling

Go behind the scenes of Pottermore.com from J.K. Rowling. Find out how Moments from Harry’s story are created from the first sketch to the final splash of color, get an exclusive look at artwork that has not yet been released, and experience Pottermore.com for yourself – defeat your opponent in a wizard’s duel or try your hand at brewing magical draughts and potions.

Scholastic

Celebrate the 15th anniversary of the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and share your message about what Harry Potter means to you. Award-winning artist Kazu Kibuishi, who recently reimagined the Harry Potter book covers, will be signing posters at limited times throughout the weekend.

United States Postal Service

Guests can check out the limited edition Harry Potter collection of 20 new Forever stamps, featuring images of Harry Potter, the extraordinary boy wizard, and the adventures he encounters with the friends, heroes, villains and creatures that make up his world. Also, see collectible products featuring the stamps, meet the stamp art director, and get special cancellation postmarks commemorating this celebration.

 

FAQ: What is Thursday’s webcast and how do I view it?

As we certainly expected, Universal is using their Harry Potter Celebration to heavily promote the opening of Diagon Alley. As part of this promotion, on Thursday – the day before the event starts – Universal broadcasted this special webcast, featuring most of the Harry Potter cast members in town for the event:

To learn more the Wizarding World expansion, visit our new blog post: Step-by-Step guide to EVERYTHING we know now about Diagon Alley.

 

FAQ: Can I get into the Friday Kick Off event?

We’ve confirmed with Universal Orlando Guest Services that the Friday Kick Off at the Universal Music Plaza is open to any guest with general admission to Universal Studios Florida on a first-come, first-served basis. Since the Universal Music Plaza is quite a large space, we imagine that everyone who shows up should be able to see something — of course, the earlier you’re there, the closer spot you’ll be able to get to the stage.

It’s worth noting that the Kick Off is at 7:30pm while USF is listed as closing at 7:00pm. There’s nothing wrong with that – it just means all the attractions will close at 7:00pm and guests will be asked to move to the Universal Music Plaza for the Kick Off or exit the park.

 

FAQ: How early should I arrive for the scheduled activities?

Assuming you do not have reserved seating, we would recommend that you arrive two hours before the scheduled start time for the Q&A sessions involving the cast members. For all other panel discussions, we recommend that you arrive an hour before the scheduled start time.

Disclaimer: Please remember that this special event is not a yearly occurrence, so we don’t have too much previous experience to base our recommendations on. If you’re a huge fan and you’re just dying to attend a particular panel discussion, it’s in your best interest to scope out the scene more than two hours in advance.

 

FAQ: Which Potter stars will be there, and can I meet them?

Actors Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood, @Evy_Lynch), James Phelps (Fred Weasley, @James_Phelps) , Oliver Phelps (George Weasley, @OliverPhelps), Mark Williams (Arthur Wesley), and Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom, @Mattdavelewis) have been officially announced as attending this event.

Guests will be able to participate in Q&A sessions with these actors as described earlier on this page. However, to the best of our knowledge, it does not appear that the actors will be holding meet-and-greet sessions for the general public. If you’re one of the lucky few to have purchased the special vacation package for this event (which sold out almost immediately), you should have the opportunity to meet the actors face-to-face during Saturday’s private evening reception.

 

FAQ: How do I get into the private evening reception?

Universal has officially stated that only guests who purchased the special vacation package (which sold out almost immediately) will gain admission to Saturday’s reception. That being said, when Universal did something like this two years ago with their November 2011 “Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration”, a few general admission guests were surprised to find out that Universal let them into that event’s private evening reception – and a few vacation package guests were peeved about this too, since they had to purchase a package to get admission.

We are making no guarantees whatsoever, but if you are a big fan, it may not be a bad idea to stick around the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Friday afternoon and see what’s happening. Good luck!

 

FAQ: What will the crowd levels be like?

If you’re looking at this page, I probably don’t need to tell you how dedicated Harry Potter fans are. As such, expect these three days to be busy ones at Universal’s theme parks, despite the fact that the end of January is typically a slow period. (If you’re not particularly interested in Potter, you might want to choose another weekend to visit.)

You can see our specific crowd predictions on our free 12-month Universal crowd calendar, and you can also see projected ride wait times based on crowd levels.

 

FAQ: Should I buy an Express Pass for this weekend?

Quick answer: Yes. Just keep in mind that Express Passes are only good at participating attractions; they cannot be used for quicker admission to the special event’s activities.

For our full answer, please read through our complete guide to Universal Express Passes.

 

FAQ: Will I get early access to Diagon Alley?

The “Celebration of Harry Potter” event has nothing specifically to due with the Diagon Alley expansion project. While Universal is using the special event to promote the opening of Diagon Alley, we in no way expect that guests visiting Universal this weekend will have early access to the new attractions, etc.

If you’d like to learn more about the Harry Potter expansion at Universal Orlando, visit our Diagon Alley page.

 

FAQ: I can’t make it – will you be doing a trip report?

If you’re unable to attend this special event, we’re happy to let you know that we’ll be providing a full trip report the following week. Also, we will be on-site Friday for sure and possibly Saturday and Sunday, so be sure to follow us on Twitter for live in-park photo updates!

 

FAQ: What should I do if I still have more questions?

We’re more than happy to answer quick questions via Twitter. Otherwise, you can check out Universal’s own FAQ section on their site.

 

FAQ: Why does this event sound familiar?

If this event sounds a little familiar to you, it’s because Universal hosted something like this back in November 2011 called the “Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration”. One of our fans, Alyssa, traveled to that event and submitted a fantastic blog post about her experience — read it here.

Alyssa visits the Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration.

Alyssa visits the Harry Potter Home Entertainment Celebration. Read about it

 

Learn more

To learn more about the Wizarding World, visit our complete insider’s guide in the OI Universal Center. We also have a full page dedicated to the development and construction of Diagon Alley at Universal Studios Florida, rumored to open June 2014.

To learn more about this celebration, visit UniversalOrlando.com.

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