This annual three-day celebration is the Harry Potter fandom’s official event. At the Universal Orlando Resort event, fans are given an opportunity to honor their love for all things wizarding world related. During the Celebration, guests can experience film talent Q&A sessions, special panels, demonstrations, an Expo, and more surprises every year. To attend, people can purchase either a Multi-Day Park-to-Park ticket or a Celebration Vacation Package, which includes exclusives such as the Exclusive Evening Event within the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Diagon Alley.
Less than a month after Universal Orlando’s 2018 date announcement, Universal released the first three names of the actors who will partake in the event. Celebration veterans James and Oliver Phelps will be returning to the festivities as well as first-timer celebrity guest Stanislav Yanevski, who portrayed Viktor Krum.
Universal Orlando announced a short time later whom they had scheduled for the event. Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), Katie Leung (Cho Chang), Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) were all in attendance for the celebrations.
Along with the film talent, A Celebration of Harry Potter featured Harry Potter: The Exhibition, dynamic graphic design team MinaLima, wand master Paul Harris, and prop maker Pierre Bohanna.
The opening night event was filled with magic and a plethora of new information. MuggleNet was there to share this experience with fans via social media. The event opened with wizards and Muggles paying tribute to the late Alan Rickman (Professor Snape). Exclusive new scenes from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them were shown on the big screen to the delight of many. Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) and Pottermore shared the announcement of the other wizarding schools around the world. The opening night event concluded with all the film talent on stage and everyone in the audience shouting “Lumos Maxima” while the night sky filled with fireworks.
The Harry Potter Expo was filled with opportunities to be immersed in the world of Harry Potter. There were various photo opportunities and a chance to write on Scholastic’s Muggle Wall. Attendees had the chance to watch a wand making demonstration and meet MinaLima and enjoy the showcasing of some of their incredible graphic designs. Guests could also delve in and explore the enormous map of wizarding schools around the world.
The schedule of events offered sessions in wand dueling and an opportunity to “Dance Like a Beauxbatons” or “Battle Like a Durmstrang.”
During the Harry Potter Props Showcase with acclaimed prop maker Pierre Bohanna and special guest Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Pierre Bohanna revealed the core contents of Newt Scamander’s wand to be elements of bone, lime, and shell.
— MuggleNet Live (@MuggleNetLive) January 30, 2016
The film talent participated in Q&A sessions in various locations throughout the event.
— MuggleNet Live (@MuggleNetLive) January 29, 2016
MuggleNet also hosted a special wand raising tribute to Alan Rickman.
The opening night event started on the Music Plaza Stage with the “Battle Like a Durmstrang” and “Dance Like a Beauxbatons” classes. Joining the teams on stage was the Hogwarts Frog Choir. The film talent of Sir Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), and James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley) were also on hand for a brief introduction.
Returning to the stage in grand fashion again this year were the Dueling Demonstrations and Wand Masterclass with Paul Harris. Evanna Lynch was the special dueling guest this year, dueling with the crowd and select audience members.
There were interactive panel discussions with MinaLima, the graphic design team for the Harry Potter films, and Kazu Kibuishi, illustrator of the Harry Potter books.
At the end of the first night for A Celebration of Harry Potter, the cast of the film series sat down for a special Q&A session with the media. In attendance were Sir Michael Gambon, Evanna Lynch, James Phelps, and Oliver Phelps.
New this year, the event included autograph sessions with the attending Harry Potter cast members.
The rest of the weekend was filled with opportunities for House photo meet-ups, Harry Potter film trivia, and movies in the park on the Music Plaza Stage.
The celebrations kicked off with a special evening on Friday featuring a Harry Potter tribute at the Music Plaza Stage, accompanied by some cast members and designers of the series. Award-winning artist Kazu Kibuishi, who reimagined the Harry Potter book covers for Scholastic, was even on hand to sign copies of the Harry Potter books.
A wand masterclass hosted by Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter featured wand combat choreographer Paul Harris with special guest Mark Williams (Arthur Weasley). Paul Harris taught offensive and defensive wand combat to the audience, and he dueled with select members of the audience on stage.
There was a panel discussion with MinaLima – creators of the graphics seen in the movies – where they discussed creating art for the eight Harry Potter films. Also in attendance was Pottermore’s creative director, Tom Hodgson, who appeared on a panel during the event to give a behind-the-scenes look at the online experience and reveal beautiful new artwork from the next installment of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. Pottermore also previewed an exclusive audio clip from J.K. Rowling, in which she gives a mischievous and somewhat unexpected backstory to one of her most colorful Harry Potter characters, Gilderoy Lockhart.
Below you can see a showcase of panels and Q&As from the event with MuggleNet staff members, as well as cast and crew from the films!
The Props Panel was a discussion with art director Alan Gilmore, film sculptor Bryn Court, and senior prop manager Aaron Baker about bringing the Harry Potter film magic to the theme parks.
For the Cast Q&A, Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley), and Devon Murray (Seamus Finnigan) answered fans’ questions.
Guests were able to explore the one-of-a-kind Harry Potter expo that included a vignette of movie props from Harry Potter: The Exhibition. There were also interactive activities for fans, one of which involved a surprise appearance by Matthew Lewis helping in the Sorting Hat experience.