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Harry Potter stars & fans journey to Universal Orlando for a celebration of the boy wizard

Harry Potter stars & fans journey to Universal Orlando for a celebration of the boy wizard

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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."


Photo by Jim Hill

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.


Photo by Jim Hill

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 ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... or taking part in the creation of a truly one-of-a-kind item. Like this Wizard wanted poster.


Photo by Jim Hill

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 ...


Photo by Nancy Stadler

... and props that were actually used in the production of this acclaimed series of films.


Photo by Jim Hill

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 ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... 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 Potter
Expo. Photo by Nancy Stadler

Still others were there just to learn more about The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley.


Photo by Nancy Stadler

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.


Photo by Nancy Stadler

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 Music Plaza 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 motion pictures.


(L to R) Matthew Lewis, James Phelps, Oliver Phelps, Evanna Lynch, Devon Murray
and Mark Williams. Photo by Nancy Stadler

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 ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... 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 ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... 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 ...


Photo by Jim Hill

... 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.

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