A Celebration of Harry Potter 2018 Preview & Guide

Photo from Megan Stump

A Celebration of Harry Potter returns to the Universal Orlando Resort this weekend, January 26-28. Popular offerings such as wand combat training and the Sorting Hat are returning while new experiences from MinaLima, Fantastic Beasts, and CineConcerts are being offered.

For more information on A Celebration of Harry Potter read its TouringPlans page and Derek Burgan’s Saturday Six Reasons We Love A Celebration of Harry Potter.

 

Planning & Overview

A Celebration of Harry Potter is a two-park event featuring panels, demonstrations, interactive experiences, and an exposition on all things Potter. Joining the panels and the exposition are actors from the movies who provide insight into their experience with the films and mingle with fans at random times.

While the celebration takes place in the parks, the walking areas for guests are unaffected, unlike Food & Wine at Epcot. Panels and demonstrations are held at the Music Plaza Stage in Universal Studios Florida and the Toon Lagoon Theater in Islands of Adventure while the Expo is held in two behind-the-scenes soundstages.

Tickets

A Celebration of Harry Potter is included with admission into the theme parks. Because events are held between the Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure a two-park admission is required to experience everything.

Costume Guidlines

Universal Orlando normally does not permit character costumes into the parks but makes an exception for Celebration weekends. The costumes of Celebration exhibit the creativity and passion the fans have and are a highlight each year. Make sure to seek out your favorite characters!

Costume rules are subject to change, but here’s the current rundown.

  • A Celebration of Harry Potter™ attendees may wear costumes in Universal’s Islands of Adventure™ and Universal Studios Florida™ theme parks January 26–January 28, 2018.
  • No masks, facial coverings, veils, long trains, live animals, swords, or weaponry are permitted. Any home-crafted wands must be rounded on either end and must be appropriate in nature.
  • Costumes cannot exceed 28” (inches) wide x 80” (inches) high to meet Universal Orlando’s metal detection regulations. Costumes are subject to secondary x-ray screening. Universal Orlando™ will have sole discretion to decide whether an item is permissible. Any item deemed inappropriate will be turned over by the owner and may be retrieved at the end of the day at the Universal CityWalk™ hub.
  • If a guest is spotted in a costume that is not deemed permissible, he or she will be asked to either remove the costume and change into something more appropriate, or exit the park.
  • Costumed guests may not give the impression that they are Universal Orlando™ Team Members.
  • To ensure guests’ safety, some costumes may not be permitted on certain attractions.
  • Bartenders and staff reserve the right to request that a guest remove any type of facial covering for identification purposes.
  • As guests enter or exit the parks, they may walk through CityWalk™ in costume with no masks or facial coverings, but not enter or linger in that area in their costume.

A general convention costume rule to readers: wearing a costume is not an invitation to invade the personal space of or harass those wearing the costume. Always ask to take photos of those in costume you enjoy. Be cool.

 

At The Celebration

Crowds

A Celebration of Harry Potter brings thousands of additional guests to the resort. The Expo Hall fills to capacity quickly; be sure to show up first thing in the morning. Prioritize low-capacity experiences such as the Sorting Hat, Harry Potter: The Exhibition, and Fantastic Beasts VR prior to other open-form exhibits and shops.

It is recommended to show up an hour before show times for panels with talent, and half an hour to other panels and demonstrations to guarantee admittance.

Wait times for non-Wizarding World attractions will be minimally affected by the Celebration. Attractions in the Wizarding World, such as Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, Hogwarts Express, and Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts will have longer waits than seasonally suggested. Visit the Wizarding World attractions during panels or the opening/closing ceremonies for the shortest waits.

Photo from Hunter Underwood

Talent

What good convention isn’t with some film stars? This year’s Celebration splits the talent between fan favorite actors and those new to the celebration. Talent participates in the Q&A panels and appear for scheduled fan events. Check the Panel schedule for times and information.

  • Natalia Tena – Nymphadora Tonks
  • Stanislav Yanevski – Viktor Krum
  • Bonnie Wright – Ginny Weasley
  • Oliver Phelps – George Weasley
  • James Phelps – Fred Weasley
Photo from Brandon Glover

Panels & Demonstrations

Every year panels and demonstrations give guests a look into the development and production of the Harry Potter movies and theme parks. This year is no different with new looks into the graphic design of the movies and an early look into the new Harry Potter video game.

Panels and demonstrations take place at the Universal Music Plaza and Toon Lagoon Theater. Times subject to change.

MUSIC PLAZA STAGE

Movies in the Park: Watch the Harry Potter movies in the Music Plaza Stage with fellow Potter fans.

1/26: 11:00am–1:30pm

Opening Night Event: The opening event, a must-attend event. Preview each day’s activities, meet the talent featured in the panels, and learn new information in the Potter universe. Previous years have introduced the school of witchcraft in the United States and gave previews of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

1/26: 7:15pm–8:30pm

Dance Like A Beauxbatons And Battle Like A Durmstrang: Learn the dance and fighting moves from the two schools of witchcraft and wizardry in Europe taught by the Universal Orlando choreographer.

1/27-1/28: 10:00am–10:30am

Harry Potter Knowledge Challenge: Do you know the difference between Ollivander and Gregorovitch wands? This is the place you want to be.

1/27: 3:00pm–3:30pm; 1/28: 4:15pm–4:45pm

Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (Kids): Learn the dueling poses and methods from the choreographer from the movies.

1/27-1/28: 11:15am–11:45am

Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (All Levels): Learn the dueling poses and methods from the choreographer from the movies, for adults!

1/27: 2:00pm–2:30pm; 1/28: 2:15pm–2:45pm

Film Talent Q&A: You ask, they answer. Remember, no bummers.

1/27: 4:00pm–4:45pm; 1/28: 5:30pm–6:15pm

Hogwarts House Rally and Costume Showcase: Rock your favorite house garb or strut your best costume in front of all. Guests are picked prior to the event.

1/27: 5:30pm–6:00pm

Evening Tribute: A tribute, not a goodbye. A must-attend for all participants.

1/27: 6:45pm–7:45pm

TOON LAGOON

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: Discover Special Effects Secrets with John Richardson: BAFTA award winner John Richardson comes to the Celebration for the first time to discuss the amazing special effects of the movies.

1/27: 10:00am–10:30am; 1/28: 10:00am–10:30am

MinaLima: Graphic Design of Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes: A new panel spinning off of a special behind-the-scenes event, Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima (get it?) show the inspiration behind the graphic design of the movies.

1/27: 11:15am–11:45am; 1/28: 3:30pm–4:00pm

The Magic Of Costumes In Harry Potter: Film costume designer Jany Temime and Harry Potter: The Exhibition curator Eddie Newquist discuss work on the post-Chris Columbus Potter movies (Azkaban to Deathly Hallows Pt 2).

1/27: 2:30pm-3:00pm; 1/28: 11:15am-11:45am

Explore Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery: Learn about the new mobile role-playing game from Portkey Games.

1/27: 3:30pm–4:00pm; 1/28: 4:30pm–5:00pm

CineConcerts: The Magic Behind The Music, And The Journey To Construct A Complete Score Live To Picture: Join CineConcerts founder/conductor Justin Freer and co-founder/producer Brady Beaubien to discuss what makes a composition and scene, then enjoy an orchestra performing the music from the films.

1/27: 4:30pm-5:00pm; 1/28: 2:30pm-3:30pm

 

Celebration Live Streams

The Celebration of Harry Potter is streaming panels to those who can’t make it to Orlando! Follow Universal Orlando on Facebook and Twitter for links to the live streams. The schedule below is subject to change:

Friday, January 26

  • 7:15pm – 8:30pm: A Celebration of Harry Potter Opening Event
  • 9:00pm:  The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle Project Experience

Saturday, January 27

  • 10:00am – 10:30am: Warner Bros. Studio Tour London: Special Effects Secrets with John Richardson (Panel)
  • 11:15am – 11:45am: Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Film with MinaLima (Panel)
  • 2:00pm – 2:30pm: Learn Wand Combat Skills with Choreographer Paul Harris
  • 4:00pm – 4:45pm: Q&A Panel with the Harry Potter Film Stars
  • 5:30pm – 6:00pm: Hogwarts House Rally: Costume Showcase
  • 6:45pm – 7:45pm: A Celebration of Harry Potter Evening Tribute

Sunday, January 28

  • 10:00pm – 10:30pm: Dance Like a Beauxbaton and Battle Like a Durmstrang
  • 11:15am – 11:45am: Harry Potter The Exhibition: Magic of Costumes
  • 2:30pm – 3:00pm: CineConcerts – Sound & Image: The Magic Behind the Music, and the Journey to Construct a Complete Score Live to Picture (Panel)
  • 4:30pm – 5:00pm: Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment: Explore Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery (Panel)
  • 5:30pm – 6:15pm:  Q&A Panel with the Harry Potter Film Stars

Photo from Hunter Underwood

Harry Potter Expo

The Celebration Expo features exhibitions, shops, and attractions from those in the “Potter-sphere”. The Expo runs Friday the 26th from 9:00am – 5:00pm, Saturday the 27th from 9:00am –3:30pm; and Sunday the 28th from  9:00am – 5:00pm.

SOUNDSTAGE 21

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child: Early behind the scenes of the new New York production.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter (Pottermore & Audible): Witness some of the effects and sets from the movies first hand.
Warner Bros. Home Entertainment: Fantastic Beasts VR experience.
Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment: Hogwarts Mystery Role Playing Game preview.
The Harry Potter Film Concert Series – CineConcerts: Love music and Potter? Go here to learn more about the film concert series.

SOUNDSTAGE 33

Scholastic: Step into the life size re-creation of the cover to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and celebrate the 20th anniversary of its publication.
Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter MinaLima: MinaLima designed all the graphic design for the Wizarding World over the past 17 years. If you love Diagon Alley, Hogsmeade, The Daily Prophet, and more, come here.
Harry Potter: The Exhibition: See costumes from the movies, enter to win a trip to the next city hosting the tour, and be sorted into a Hogwarts house by the Sorting Hat.

Photo from Megan Stump

Events in the Parks

Other events throughout the parks are being offered. Check times guides and Universal Orlando’s website for more information.

The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle: See the new nighttime show featuring the four Hogwarts houses before it debuts this spring.

1/27 & 1/28: Starting at dusk

Harry Potter Chalk Art: Artists create characters and scenes from the books and movies throughout Universal Orlando.

A Celebration of Harry Potter Scavenger Hunt: Find answers to clues throughout the Wizarding World. Download the scavenger hunt list.

Are you planning to attend A Celebration of Harry Potter 2018? If so, what are you most looking forward to. Let us know in the comments.

Joseph Matt

Avid amusement park and video game fan. Enjoys picking up rare beers at breweries, exploring cities, cooking, and leading the young men of his fraternity.

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