At this point, people who come to the Universal Orlando Resort
kind of expect to encounter some Harry Potter-related lines.
Yesterday afternoon, the line to
get into the Harry Potter Expo actually started down by Universal Studios'
Classic Monsters Cafe ...
But yesterday, the Guests weren't lining up for "Forbidden Journey."
But -- rather -- a whole different kind of theme park magic.
... and then curved past USF's New York Public Library
facade. Photo by Nancy Stadler
No, these crowds were here for "A Celebration of Harry Potter." Which
was this three day-long special event being hosted by the Universal Orlando
Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment.
Photo by Jim Hill
And for most Harry Potter fans, their first stop sut had to be the Expo (which
was actually being held backstage inside of Soundstage 33). Here, they could pose
in front of a replica of the Ford Anglia that Harry & Ron flew in "The
Chamber of Secrets."
Or they could get their picture taken in front of a recreation of one of those high
security vaults found deep down in the caverns below Gringotts Wizarding Bank.
These two look pretty shifty. I'd keep an eye on them if
I were you
But for other fans of the Harry Potter books & films who had come to the
Expo, they didn't want to just pose in front of things. They wanted to actively
become a part of the Wizarding World. So these folks queued up to get a lesson
in proper wand dueling techniques.
They also got on line so that they could then have Hogwarts' sorting hat decide
which house they belonged in.
Photo by Nancy Stadler
For still others, it was all about going home with some sort ofunique Harry
Potter-related collectibles like a limited edition lithograph ...
... or taking part in the creation of a truly one-of-a-kind item. Like this
Wizard wanted poster.
To be honest, there are something for every form of Harry Potter fan at the Expo.
If you loved the movies, you could ogle some of the costumes ...
... and props that were actually used in the production of this acclaimed
series of films.
Or if you were more of a fan of the Harry Potter books, you
could drop by the Scholastic booth and sign up for the chance to win some
highly collectible pieces of art ...
... or -- better yet -- meet Kazu Kibuishi, the award-winning artist who
recently reimagined the Harry Potter book covers.
Kazu Kibuishi in the Scholastic booth at the Harry PotterExpo. Photo by Nancy Stadler
Still others were there just to learn more about The Wizarding World of Harry
Potter - Diagon Alley.
And while the folks at Universal Creative aren't quite ready to let Crookshanks
out of the bag, there were a few pieces of art on display here that then gave
event attendees a better understanding of what will be found behind those
massive facades along the London embankment when this USF addition finally
opens sometime later this summer.
But for most of the fans who come out on this rather cold Central
Florida day to take part in "A Celebration of Harry
Potter," it was all about seeing & then hearing from the performers
who'd actually been in the movies. And the Universal Orlando
Resort and Warner Bros. Entertainment certainly didn't stint when it came to
that aspect of this event. For they flew in Harry Potter film stars Mark Williams, Matthew Lewis, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Evanna Lynch and Devon Murray to take part in this celebration. And after a brief chat with the press ...
(L to ) Devon Murray, Matthew
Lewis, Evanna Lynch, Oliver Phelps and James Phelps. Photo by Nancy Stadler
... these performers then trouped on over to the Universal
stage. Where -- after a brief film tribute to the whole Harry Potter phenomenon
Photo by Jim Hill
... it was time for the cast to come out onstage ...
Matthew Lewis (R) gestures to a giant photo of a much younger version of himself
dressed as Neville Longbottom. Photo by Nancy Stadler
... so that they could then share some behind-the-scenes
stories about what it was actually like to work on this super-popular series of
(L to R) Matthew Lewis, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps,
Evanna Lynch, Devon Murray and Mark Williams. Photo by
Now I want to stress here that -- thanks to the Polar Vortex -- last night, it
was downright cold here in Central Florida. Even for us
native New Englanders. But this Mardi Gras-sized crowd ...
... hung in there for the entire "Harry Potter Tribute." We're
talking thousands of men, women and children of all ages who braved the cold
for 90 minutes. All because their love of the boy wizard.
And just so you know: "A Celebration of Harry Potter" continues
through Sunday afternoon. So if you'd like to explore the Harry Potter Expo
over on Soundstage 33 ...
... or sit in on some of the Harry Potter-themed discussion panels which are
going to be held this weekend in the Toon Lagoon Amphitheater over at
Universal's Islands of Adventure (For all you JHM readers who love
behind-the-scenes stories, might I suggest the "Bringing the Harry Potter
Films to the Theme Park" panel. Which is being presented on Sunday morning
starting at 10 a.m. During this
session, set designer Alan Gilmore and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Prop
Master Eric Baker will discuss how ideas move from the books to the big screen,
and then went on to become real-life theme park experiences).
Just so you know, though: According to an Universal Orlando insider that I
spoke with earlier this week, it'll probably be a number of years before the
Resort mounts another Harry Potter-themed event of this size. So if you and the
family really are fans of the boy wizard ...
... now would be a good time to climb aboard your Fambus Station Wagon and then
fly on down to Florida. So that
you then wouldn't miss out on the last two days of "A Celebration of Harry
Potter" at the Universal Orlando Resort.