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A Celebration of Harry Potter 2016 – complete insider’s guide

Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host the third annual “A Celebration of Harry Potter,” a special gathering of Harry Potter fans from around the globe. The three-day weekend event will take place January 29 – 31, 2016 and will feature an array of experiences. On this page you’ll learn all you need to know about the event!

What is A Celebration of Harry Potter?

The event, in it’s third year, gives Harry Potter fans a special opportunity to learn more about and be a part of the world of Harry Potter. Last year’s event featured question & answer sessions with talent from the film, panels/demonstrations with the creators of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, artists of the movies, and other special guests. In addition, a special expo is set up in one of Universal’s soundstages with special items from the films and exhibits.

Universal is guaranteeing even more all-new experiences for the 2016 Celebration. First, here’s a look back at last year’s “A Celebration of Harry Potter.”

UPDATED: 2016 panels, demonstrations, and events schedule

Below is the 2016 schedule for A Celebration of Harry Potter. It is also available in PDF format here.

What to note:

  • The events on Sunday are simply repeated from Saturday in a different order. Utilize Sunday to view what you missed or want to see again.
  • Toon Lagoon Amphitheater is located on your left just as you’re exiting Marvel Superhero Island and entering Toon Lagoon in Islands of Adventure.
  • The Music Plaza is located in front of Hollywood Rip Ride Rockit in Universal Studios Florida.
  • The two main stages for this event are about a 15-20 minute walk from each other at a normal pace. In addition, the majority of these events will fill up with lines forming prior to the start time.
  • The events below are open to anyone with a ticket to enter the park who queue up early enough. Vacation Package holders may receive priority access.
  • There are special events that are limited to Vacation Package holders only. Info on these events is located below this main schedule.
  • Can’t make it to this year’s Celebration? We’ll be sharing the best of the event live on our Twitter and will have extensive coverage on our blog.

Friday, January 29, 2016

The Harry Potter Expo is open from 9am – 6pm at Soundstage 33, which is close to the Mummy ride.
Movie in the Park (Music Plaza) — 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Opening Night Event (Music Plaza) — 7:30pm – 8pm

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Harry Potter Expo is open from 9am – 4:30pm at Soundstage 33, which is close to the Mummy ride.
Kids’ Dueling Demonstration & Wand Masterclass with Paul Harris (Music Plaza) — 10am – 10:30am
Kids’ Harry Potter Film Trivia (Music Plaza) — 10:45am – 11am
Bringing the Harry Potter Films to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 11am –  11:30am
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang (Music Plaza) — 11:30am – 12pm
The Global Impact of Harry Potter: The Exhibition (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 1pm – 1:30pm
Kids’ Harry Potter Film Trivia (Music Plaza) — 2pm – 2:15pm
Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films with MinaLima (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 2pm – 2:30pm
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang (Music Plaza) — 2:45pm – 3:15pm
Harry Potter Props Showcase with Prop Maker Pierre Bohanna (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 3pm – 3:45pm
Behind the Scenes: Harry Potter Film Talent Q&A Session (Music Plaza) — 4:15pm – 5pm
House Rally (Music Plaza) — 5:3opm – 6pm
Harry Potter Film Tribute (Music Plaza) — 6:45pm – 7:45pm

Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Harry Potter Expo is open from 9am – 6pm at Soundstage 33, which is close to the Mummy ride.
Kids’ Dueling Demonstration & Wand Masterclass with Paul Harris (Music Plaza) — 10am – 10:30am
Kids’ Harry Potter Film Trivia (Music Plaza) — 10:45am – 11am
Harry Potter Props Showcase with Prop Maker Pierre Bohanna (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 11am – 11:45pm
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang (Music Plaza) — 11:30am – 12pm
Bringing the Harry Potter Films to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 1pm –  1:30pm
Kids’ Harry Potter Film Trivia (Music Plaza) — 2pm – 2:15pm
Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films with MinaLima (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 2pm – 2:30pm
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang (Music Plaza) — 2:45pm – 3:15pm
The Global Impact of Harry Potter: The Exhibition (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 3pm – 3:30pm
Behind the Scenes: Harry Potter Film Talent Q&A Session (Music Plaza) — 4:15pm – 5pm

Expanded details on some of the 2016 panels:

Behind the Scenes: Harry Potter Film Talent Q&A – Enjoy a fascinating and interactive question and answer session featuring some of your favorite actors from the Harry Potter™ films. Discover what it was like to work on one of the most successful film franchises in history.

The Global Impact of Harry Potter: The Exhibition – Join us in celebrating the touring attraction that’s visited 13 cities in 9 countries and hosted almost 4 million guests. Harry Potter: The Exhibition is in a unique position to reflect on the global impact of the franchise. Get an exclusive look at the exhibition’s creation and the excitement it continues to deliver to fans around the world. Panel will include exhibition creators, film producers, and film actors who have participated in the openings.

Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films with MinaLima – Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, from the graphic design studio MinaLima, will share insights into their role as graphic prop designers, and how their paths crossed at the WB film studios to work for 10 years on the Harry Potter movies.

Harry Potter Props Showcase with acclaimed prop maker Pierre Bohanna – Ever wondered how long it takes to make a wand? Or the inspiration for the hundreds of wand designs in the Harry Potter film series? Warner Bros. Pierre Bohanna will answer these questions and many more. Remember to bring along your wand as there may be a masked visitor or two during the showcase.

The following two panels and demonstrations are geared towards the younger attendees at A Celebration of Harry Potter. They’re recommended for ages 12 and under:

Dance Like a Beauxbatons & Battle Like a Durmstrang – If your younger Harry Potter fans are entranced by the dances performed by Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students in the Harry Potter films, they’ll love this demonstration. A Universal Orlando choreographer, working with Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students who perform here at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, will explain the movements and techniques behind the mesmerizing dance routines.

Harry Potter Film Trivia – How well do your children (or you) know the Harry Potter films? Test your knowledge during this fun audience-interaction game inviting younger fans to shout out the answers to film-specific questions. Perhaps a Harry Potter film marathon is in order before trying your luck?

Do I need to purchase a special package to participate in the event?

Yes and no. Most of the festivities based around “A Celebration of Harry Potter” 2016 are accessible by all park guests. Anyone with a daytime park ticket will be able to attend the film talent question and answer sessions, panels and demonstrations, and the special expo. However, guests that purchase a special “A Celebration of Harry Potter” vacation package are eligible for “special guest access” to the expo and panels. Package holders also receive access to an exclusive question & answer session with film talent.

Although guests without the package have the possibility to attend most events, it’s also important to understand that, in years past, the lines for many of the demonstrations and other sessions were so long that general admission guests were not able to exit the area from one session, get in line, and get back into the area for the next session. In this sense, the HP Celebration package is a better way to be certain you’ll be able to see everything, as it offers “special access for discussions and demonstrations.”

Additionally, visitors who purchase a special vacation package will receive a few other benefits (highlighted below). Speaking of which:

Exclusive evening in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter AND reception at the expo

One of the major benefits of purchasing a vacation package, guests who have purchased a special vacation package will have access to an exclusive evening at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, complete with desserts and one complimentary Butterbeer. This evening event will take place Friday, January 29. Regular park guests will not be able to partake in this event.

A fresh offering for 2016, folks who purchase the premium Celebration of Harry Potter vacation package will have access to a special reception at the expo on Saturday, January 30. This is limited to only the premium vacation package holders, meaning those who purchase any other vacation package or are just there as daytime guests will not have access.

Diagon Alley after darkDiagon Alley after dark.

A Celebration of Harry Potter Vacation Packages

All packages went on sale on Wednesday, August 19, at 12:00pm, EST. As of January 13, all packages are now sold out.

In 2013, all vacation packages sold out in two days. In 2014, a higher quantity of packages were offered and it still sold out in a few days, with the Annual Pass package selling out fastest.

This year, Universal is offering 3 different “A Celebration of Harry Potter” vacation packages. All packages include:

  • 3-night hotel accommodations
  • access to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter evening event
  • a specially themed welcome parcel
  • special guest access to select panels and demonstrations and the expo
  • commemorative merchandise
  • early park admission
  • breakfast at Three Broomsticks
  • an exclusive talent question and answer session.

Premium Vacation Package – SOLD OUT
The “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Premium Vacation Package boasts the best offerings and the highest pricing. In addition to the offerings listed above, it also includes:

  • 3-day park-to-park admission
  • Exclusive autograph and photo session with select Harry Potter film talent
  • Shutterbutton’s Photography Studio session
  • Breakfast at the Leaky Cauldron (in addition to breakfast at Three Broomsticks on a separate morning)
  • Reception at expo

For accommodations at Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s on-site preferred hotel, pricing starts at $405 per adult, per night (tax inclusive).

For accommodations at either Hard Rock Hotel or Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal’s on-site premier hotels, pricing starts at $419 per adult, per night (tax inclusive).

Celebration Vacation Package – SOLD OUT
This is the standard package for “A Celebration of Harry Potter.” It is more budget friendly, but misses out on the exclusive autograph and photo session with film talent, along with a few other benefits of the premium package. It does, however, include all of the benefits listed at the top and 3-day park-to-park admission.

For accommodations at a Universal partner hotel, pricing begins at $199 per adult, per night (tax inclusive).

At Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s on-site prime value hotel, pricing begins at $235 per adult, per night (tax inclusive).

At Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s on-site preferred hotel, pricing begins at $305 per adult, per night (tax inclusive).

At Hard Rock Hotel or Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal’s on-site premier hotels, pricing begins at $319 per adult, per night (tax inclusive).

Annual Passholder Vacation Package – SOLD OUT
This is essentially the Celebration Vacation Package above, without theme park tickets included. It’s important to note that you will need a valid Annual Pass when you book and visit to be eligible for this package.

For accommodations at a Universal partner hotel, pricing begins at $129 per adult, per night (tax inclusive).

At Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s on-site prime value hotel, pricing begins at $165 per adult, per night (tax inclusive).

At Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s on-site preferred hotel, pricing begins at $235 per adult, per night (tax inclusive).

At Hard Rock Hotel or Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal’s on-site premier hotels, pricing begins at $245 per adult, per night (tax inclusive).

How to book “A Celebration of Harry Potter” Vacation Packages

Packages went on sale at noon EST on August 19 on Universal’s website.

If you’d prefer, Orlando Informer Travel can help you plan your Harry Potter vacation and book your vacation package. You may call Orlando Informer Travel at (844) ORL-INFO or email info@travel.orlandoinformer.com. We’ll happily do the hard work for you on this one (and for no additional cost – seriously).

Hogsmeade from the distance at sunsetHogsmeade from the distance at sunset.

Will the packages sell out?

As noted above, all types of the A Celebration of Harry Potter vacation packages (Premium and Annual Passholder) have already sold out.

Which Harry Potter stars will be there?

Here’s the film talent lineup for 2016. Those who purchased the (sold out) Premium vacation package will have an opportunity for autographs and photos will select talent. There will be no other official autograph or photo sessions.

  • Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley)
  • Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley)
  • Katie Leung (Cho Chang)
  • Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom)
  • Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood)

Costumes at A Celebration of Harry Potter

Attendees may wear costumes at both theme parks on January 29-31, 2016. Here’s what you need to know:

  • No masks, veils, long trains, live animals, swords, or weapons. All home-crafted wands must be rounded on either end.
  • Must not give the impression you are a Universal Team Member.
  • Certain costumes may not be allowed on select rides due to safety concerns.
  • You may not linger in CityWalk with a costume.
  • Universal Orlando will have sole discretion on costumes. You may be asked to change or leave the resort. Any items deemed inappropriate may be retrieved at the end of the day at the CityWalk hub.

Have questions? Post your question in the Orlando Informer Forum and our vacation planning community will do our best to answer your question.