This year I attended the Harry Potter celebration at Universal Studios in Orlando Florida. The event took place from January 29th – 31st. The experience, the first night was indeed magical. First the weekend started off with the reveal of some additional wizarding schools (read at pottermore), some lovely wand tooting fireworks effects from the actors who play the famous Ron Weasley, Ginny Weasley, Luna Lovegood, Cho Chang and Neville Longbottom. It was an amazing time at the park after hours.
By far the first night was the most memorable. By night Hogsmead and Diagon alley were lined with carts containing drinks and treats all lit by candlelight. There were witch performers at Diagon alley, which fully immersed you in the experience and I can’t deny being able to get on all of the rides (multiple times) was pretty awesome! Almost everyone was dressed in robes with wand in hand both old and young. As a note, I highly suggest the wand experience at Ollivander’s.
The next two days were riddled with panels which some were pretty cool. But to be honest they hardly compared to the first night, besides who goes to a theme park and spends the whole day sitting and listening to people talk? (The answer is a lot.)
We also had access to the expo, which I would just like to say, was extremely overcrowded and hardly worth your time. There were some artifacts and a section where you could buy some work by the graphic artists from the movies, which was pretty cool but otherwise some people were waiting up to three hours. I would have been pissed if I waited three hours and THAT is what I saw. They did have a section (another line we waited almost an hour in), which briefly talked about wand making and showed the tools they use to make the wands. Also there was a section regarding some of the hair/makeup used on some of the characters.
Ultimately, I felt the expo could have been really amazing however a lot of what they had there just didn’t make sense and it was not wheelchair friendly. Perhaps universal underestimated the turn out. Additionally the expo had a section where you could purchase items. But the items were the same merchandise that you could purchase in the park. I thought that was weird and a waste of space where they could have done something cooler. They did have a section where you could write what harry potter meant to you and put it on the wall. The younger children really seemed to enjoy that area.
We managed to have lunch at the three broomsticks with our dining plan. The food was a lot better than what I was expecting. We also had breakfast at the leaky cauldron that was part of our celebration package. Both building looked essentially how you would expect to see them straight from the movies. Immersing you in the harry potter experience. As a side note the staff at the leaky cauldron are both extremely kind and helpful.
I would absolutely attend the celebration again because the first night was just so amazing, but I probably wouldn’t attend the expo again, or spend so much time at panels. If I had to pick my absolutely favorite feature of the parks, from the train to the rides I would actually say the interactive wands was the coolest thing, everyone who did it was totally into it, both children and adults.
If you are a harry potter fan you have to visit the wizarding world of harry potter!