Every year Orlando Florida hosts a 3 day event, dedicated to celebrating the world of Harry Potter. This January, Holly and her friend Tom decided to time their trip to Orlando to coincide with this and Holly has written a round-up of her favourite things from the event:

In its fourth year running, A Celebration of  Harry Potter brings fans not just from around US but the world. I can guarantee you’ll get sucked into the incredible atmosphere and magic which surrounds this event.

I booked a vacation package through Universal (hotel only) which meant I got added extras as part of the Harry Potter celebration, which included:

  1. A stay at the Hard Rock Hotel for 5 nights
  2. Early access into the park
  3. Free Express Pass for the rides
  4. Access to an exclusive Q&A with film stars
  5. Three Broomsticks breakfast
  6. Exclusive evening event at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  7. Commemorative Merchandise Item
  8. Commemorative Pin and Lanyard

Commemorative Lanyard

Commemorative Pin

Commemorative Merchandise Item

I found when I was researching my trip the price for a vacation package was similar to just booking accommodation, and with the added benefits (listed above) I couldn’t resist. The exclusive lanyard which allowed me to fast track queues for the expo also allowed access to a special area for the demonstrations which were less crowded.

One thing to note: If you are travelling from the UK and planning to get an Orlando package deal, e.g. with Virgin Holidays, you aren’t able to get this special vacation package as it’s only available when booking direct with Universal.

I booked the basic vacation package (£800PP), there was also a premium vacation package which costed more, but included unique experiences such as an exclusive autograph and photo session with the film talent.

Arriving

Shortly after arriving we headed over to the Group Sales counter in Islands of Adventure to pick up our passes. Then we were ready to start enjoying all the festivities.

The parks was not that busy on the Friday, possibly because most people were coming after work and there wasn’t much on. It wasn’t until 7pm during the Opening Night Event when it started to get busy. Here we got our first glimpse of the Harry Potter  stars which were present for the entire weekend: Warick Davis (Flitwick and Griphook), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy) and Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy).

Here is a round up of things you can expect to experience during the course of the weekend:

 The Expo

Set across two sound stages, we saw a range of companies showcasing Harry Potter merchandise.

Lego showcased their new Harry Potter characters on their Lego Dimensions games.

Warner Brothers Studio Tour London broke the news that they were opening up a new forbidden forest section. #FollowTheSpiders showcased at the expo and this opened on March 31st this year. We even managed to get a sneak preview of Aragog and get an insight into how the prop and design team made this monstrous creature.

The Exhibition
Touring around the world to fans across the globe, the collection of Harry Potter props was showcased at this event. This included Hermoine’s wax figure (used in the second film), as well as Quidditch supplies, Quaffles and more.

Check out this mosaic this was created by using photos from the event using the hashtag #HPCelebration.

Hundreds of artists were used to help bring the books to life, and much of this work was on display during the course of the week. I particularly enjoyed seeing some of the amazing live pastel sketches around the park.

Inside the expo, artists were working on a Fantastic Beasts montage

Outside on the pavements:

Exclusive Q&A with Film Talent

One of my favourite moments out of the entire weekend was the exclusive Q&A with the actors. It was early on Saturday and located in the Toon Lagoon amphitheatre. We got an intimate catch up with the stars. Funnily enough, myself and my friend Tom were sat behind the VIP section, and when Matthew Lewis came on he was heckled by his friends from the crowd in front. Jason Isaacs also shared that if Lucius had a Patronus it would have been Donald Trump’s hair.

Props showcase with acclaimed prop maker Pierre Bohanna

This was a talk about the props and prosthetics created and used for the films hosted by Warwick Davis. Pierre is also part of the team behind the #FollowTheSpiders Forbidden Forest.

Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films with MinaLima

Probably one of the lesser known companies used by Warner Bros in the making of the films, but this design company is behind all the graphic design in the films; including the new Fantastic Beasts franchise. They also designed all of the merchandise for this year’s Harry Potter celebration.

Currently they now have a permanent ‘pop-up shop’ in SoHo London which you can visit, details of which can be found here.

Examples of graphic design work from the Harry Potter films

For some Top Tips if you are planning a visit to A Celebration of Harry Potter see my article in the link above

I had a really good time at the event and the Q&A with the stars as well as the expo were definitely my highlights. I wouldn’t say it merits going every single year but I’ll definitely be heading back in a few years-time.