MuggleNet 2019 Year in Review

2019 is coming to an end, and 2020 is almost here! Let’s take a look back at everything this year gave us.

As 2019 began, Potter fans had a lot to look forward to. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was making its way to Melbourne, Australia, and in January, fans learned more about the young actors taking over the roles of Albus, Scorpius, and Rose. The show’s Friday Forty was launched, and performances began on January 18. This same month, we learned that the show would also open in Hamburg, Germany.

It’s hard to believe that in January we had no idea what new ride was coming to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade at Universal Orlando Resort’s Islands of Adventure. At this time, we were just beginning to see photos of the roller coaster’s motorcycles and Forbidden Forest. We also learned that the third Fantastic Beasts film wouldn’t begin filming until the fall instead of the summer.

Jacob Kowalski actor Dan Fogler addressed this news in February, telling fans that the delay was due to the movie being “bigger” than the other two and that the change would give the team more time to prepare. He also confirmed that the movie would be set in Brazil. At this time, fans began to suspect that the movie wouldn’t premiere until 2021. Universal Orlando confirmed that the new Wizarding World ride would be called Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure and that it would open in June, and Tom Felton said the ride shouldn’t be missed. The team behind Cursed Child announced the show’s San Francisco premiere, and the fandom was gifted with two firsts: dyslexia-friendly editions of the Hogwarts Library books and Spanish-language audiobooks.

In March, we learned more about Universal’s new magical creatures-themed coaster when Mike West, senior director and executive producer at Universal Creative, called it “a totally immersive environment.” Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter announced details on its own immersive environment, giving fans a sneak peek at the Gringotts addition. This month, one of the coveted first editions of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sold for almost $90,000 after a bidding war between two buyers.

With April came more news about Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure, as the featured creatures were revealed during a special week. Harry Potter: Wizards Unite became available to beta users in New Zealand and Australia, and initial reports were very positive. Throughout the month, guests at Universal Studios Hollywood could enjoy the “Dark Arts at Hogwarts Castle” projection show, which included the use of drones for the first time and an exclusive soundtrack. LEGO fans learned about this year’s amazing new sets, and Warner Bros. confirmed that Fantastic Beasts 3 wouldn’t come to theaters until November 12, 2021.

In May, Harry Potter brought joy to kids fighting serious illnesses, composer John Williams crafted a new arrangement for his iconic “Hedwig’s Theme,” and Pottermore announced its future as Wizarding World Digital. The announcement left fans wondering what would become of the old Pottermore as the transition to the new site happened shortly after the news broke. The Cursed Child team announced yet another upcoming production, this time in Toronto, Canada, and MuggleNet got a sneak peek at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and Universal Orlando Resort’s new roller coaster.

As June began, Potter fans were treated to new merchandise from Vans, Funko, and the OP (formerly known as USAopoly). J.K. Rowling even got her own shade of lipstick! Harry Potter became the most inspirational children’s book character, and Harry Potter: Wizards Unite became the most popular Potter game when it was released in June. Sadly, Puffs, or: Seven Increasingly Eventful Years at a Certain School of Magic and Magic announced its Off-Broadway closing.

Fans had a mild panic attack in July when the Warner Bros. Studio Tour in Leavesden caught fire. Thankfully, there were no injuries and no damage was done. After being open less than a month, Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure began to close early each day so that employees could take care of the ride’s maintenance. After its initial opening, the ride began to open later and later each day, so this change was an attempt to get riders in earlier in the morning without delay. To end Harry’s birthday month, all seven books in the series made Amazon UK’s list of most-read fiction books this week.

In August, Dame Emma Thompson (Sybill Trelawney) focused on climate change, and J.K. Rowling received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award for her work with Lumos. After its initial announcement in May, Pottermore announced that Wizarding World Digital would include an app, and MuggleNet got a sneak peek at what it would look like.

The Cursed Child cast took over New York City’s Times Square in September and were joined by Sarah Jessica Parker. The new Wizarding World app was launched in Ireland, the United Kingdom, and the United States, and Universal announced its Beijing resort’s opening in 2021 and confirmed that it will have a Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Pottermore news continued in October as the site officially transitioned to Wizarding World Digital. A new Sorting Ceremony was launched, and the team announced a free Potter fan club for those not interested in Wizarding World Gold, the paid subscription service. Sales for Cursed Child took a dip and led fans to wonder if Potter steam was truly running out.

Excitement for the next Fantastic Beasts film was renewed when filming began in November. Wizarding World Gold launched to mixed reviews, and Funko gave fans a look at the first Patronus Pop! figurine. Emma Watson‘s interview with Vogue became part of the public consciousness when she called herself “self-partnered,” inspiring other single 30-somethings to do the same.

As 2019 came to an end, Cursed Child officially opened at San Francisco’s Curran Theatre and broke box office records right away. J.K. Rowling returned to Twitter after a hiatus, but fans weren’t thrilled with what she had to say. Despite the controversy, Potter fans and cast members rallied in support of one another, choosing to end the year with an outpouring of love.

What was your highlight of 2019? What are you looking forward to in 2020?

Gretchen Roesch

I once knew every word to the "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" movie. Now I use my Ravenclaw brain power to manage the MuggleNet News Team, write articles, and podcast about "Harry Potter". Outside of the site, I'm a long-distance runner, social worker, and baker. I hope to one day pay off my student loans.

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