Exclusive Interview: Amber Kacherian Shares What It Was Like Working at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Amber Kacherian and I first met in 2008 through a mutual friend. Both of us share a love of Harry Potter, and it was with great envy that I had to witness from afar her experience working at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort. Kacherian worked part-time at the park from 2013 to 2015. I recently had the chance to shoot Kacherian some questions about her time working at one of the most immersive Harry Potter experiences, and I was surprised to hear some fun little tidbits.
When asked if she was able to go on the rides, Kacherian was eager to point out that this was something she experienced all the time – in job training, on her days off, and even on her first day of orientation.
During your general orientation on your first day, the orientation class is split into groups, and each group gets to ride one ride. Also, if you work at an attraction, riding the attraction is part of your training. Team members get free park admission for themselves at all times, so you can also go and ride rides before or after work or on your days off. You just need to change out of costume first.
Kacherian worked at two attractions in the two years that she was there: Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey within Hogwarts Castle and Dragon Challenge (which has since been replaced by Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure). When asked what her favorite ride is, Kacherian mentioned Escape from Gringotts because of the immersive theme.
Though this is her favorite ride, she had no lack of enthusiasm for the rest of the park.
They didn’t cut corners or skimp on details anywhere, right down to little surprises in the queue lines – like the [H]ouse point counters or Snape’s office inside Hogwarts or Hagrid’s hut in the line for Flight of the Hippogriff or even Moaning Myrtle in the bathrooms. Every last detail everywhere is absolutely magical.
Kacherian’s favorite sweet treat is the Chocolate Frogs that come with Famous Witches and Wizards cards. But did you know that you can participate in card trading with team members as a guest?
If you don’t get the wizard card you want, you can ask a team member at the location where you bought the Chocolate Frog if they will trade cards with you! Sort of like pin trading at Disney [Parks].
Trading cards only scratches the surface of Kacherian’s exchange with guests. One interesting interaction Kacherian had with a Potter fan was when she was asked why deceased characters were no longer dead.
I once had a guest ask me why Dumbledore is still alive [at the] Wizarding World. We are trained to respond with things like, ‘because Hogwarts is timeless’ in situations like that.
But that isn’t the strangest thing to happen in her time at Universal Orlando. Kacherian found it very out of character for sunny Florida to get so cold that some rides were not able to operate.
Believe it or not, sometimes it actually gets cold enough in Florida that rides cannot operate. For example, Dragon Challenge cannot operate in temperatures below 40 degrees Fahrenheit. When that happens, we actually have to close the ride. It’s a very strange thing to have to tell guests that we had to close the ride because it’s too cold – in Florida!
However, her most intriguing experience was witnessing some of the guests that came strolling into the park.
It’s fairly common to see celebrities at theme parks like [Walt] Disney [World] and Universal [Orlando Resort]. Oliver and [James] Phelps and Bonnie Wright and Evanna Lynch frequently visited [the Wizarding World of Harry Potter] for special events, and I even saw a couple [of] members of One Direction come through the attraction one day while I was working at Dragon Challenge. High-profile guests normally get an Express pass or private entrance to the ride.
When asked how working at Universal Orlando has affected her love of the Harry Potter fandom, Kacherian had this to say:
If anything, I think it just made me an even bigger Harry Potter fan. Nothing tops actually being able to be a part of Harry Potter’s world and become a witch or wizard yourself. It was like all of my childhood fantasies had come true.
Kacherian currently resides in Utah. When asked what she misses most about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, she had this to say:
I miss being able to visit Harry Potter’s world anytime I wanted. There’s nothing like it.
As something fun to close out this interview, I asked Kacherian for a list of interesting things about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter that most wouldn’t know.
1. All Wizarding World of Harry Potter staff go through a special class just to learn about the world of Harry Potter.
2. Wands purchased at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter have a lifetime guarantee.
If your wand breaks at any time in your life, you can take it to any merchandise location that sells wands and tell them you need a wand repair. They will fix your wand for free!
3. Universal Orlando Resort as a whole treats its employees really well.
You’ll notice the difference in attitude and customer service between Universal [Orlando Resort] team members and [those of] other Orlando theme parks. That is because we are treated better by the company. When a company is good to [its] employees, employees are good to guests.
4. Costumes for team members are very well regulated for copyright reasons.
You aren’t allowed to take them home, and you aren’t allowed to step outside [of the] Wizarding World [of Harry Potter] in costume (except to go ‘backstage’ in areas that cannot be accessed by guests). Doing either of the above things will get you fired from [the] Wizarding World [of Harry Potter].
Have you ever visited or worked at Universal Orlando Resort? Share your experience below!