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A Celebration of Harry Potter 2017 – complete insider’s guide

Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host the fourth 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 27 – 29, 2017 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 fourth 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 two of Universal’s soundstages with special items from the films and exhibits.

Universal is posed for another great Celebration. First, here’s a look back at last year’s “A Celebration of Harry Potter.” Want to see more? Check out our A Celebration of Harry Potter 2016 recap.

What was the schedule like for last year?

Below is the 2017 schedule for A Celebration of Harry Potter.

New for 2017: The Harry Potter expo has expanded from one to two sound stages!

  • The following will be in Soundstage 21: Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Warner Bros. Studio Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Pottermore
  • The following will be in Soundstage 33: Warner Bros. Studios Tour London – The Making of Harry Potter, MinaLima, Stories from Harry Potter: The Exhibition, Scholastic, Universal Parks & Resorts

Friday, January 27, 2017

The Harry Potter expo is open from 9am to 5pm at Soundstage 33 and 21. The entrance is expected to be near the Mummy ride.
Movie in the Park (Music Plaza) — 10am, 1:30pm
Opening Night Event (Music Plaza) — 7:15pm – 8:15pm (Major announcements are expected.)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Harry Potter expo is open from 9am to 3:30pm at Soundstage 33 and 21. The entrance is expected to be near the Mummy ride.
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle like a Durmstrang (Music Plaza) — 10am – 10:30am
WB Studio Tour London – Discover the secrets behind Creature Effects with Nick Dudman & Warwick Davis (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 10am – 10:30am
Harry Potter Trivia (Music Plaza) — 11am – 11:30am
Kids Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (Music Plaza) — 11:30am – 12pm*
MinaLima: Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films (Music Plaza) — 11:30am – 12pm*

*Editor’s note: We think one of these two above events may be misscheduled and have reached out for clarification.

Harry Potter Trivia (Music Plaza) — 1:30pm – 2pm
All Levels Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (Music Plaza) — 2pm – 2:30pm
Stories from the Exhibition: Taking the Audio-Tour Experience to the World (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 3pm – 3:30pm
Harry Potter Film Talent Q&A (Music Plaza) — 4pm – 4:45pm
An Interview with Mary GrandPré (Toon Lagoon amphitheater) — 4:15pm – 4:45pm
House Rally Meet-Up Costume Contest (Music Plaza) — 5:30pm – 6pm
Evening Tribute (Music Plaza) — 6:45pm – 7:45pm

Sunday, January 29, 2017

The Harry Potter expo is open from 9am to 5pm at Soundstage 33 and 21. The entrance is expected to be near the Mummy ride.
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle like a Durmstrang (Music Plaza) — 10am – 10:30am
MinaLima: Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 10am – 10:30am
Harry Potter Trivia (Music Plaza) — 11am – 11:30am
Kids Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (Music Plaza) — 11:30am – 12pm
All Levels Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris (Music Plaza) — 2pm – 2:30pm
Stories from the Exhibition: Taking the Audio-Tour Experience to the World (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 2:30pm – 3pm
Harry Potter Trivia (Music Plaza) — 3pm – 3:30pm
WB Studio Tour London – Discover the secrets behind Creature Effects with Nick Dudman & Warwick Davis (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) — 4pm – 4:30pm
Harry Potter Film Talent Q&A (Music Plaza) — 5:30pm – 6:15pm

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.

Stories From The Exhibition: Taking the Audio-Tour Experience to the World – Harry Potter™: The Exhibition brings some of the best known authentic props and elements used to create the entire film series. And every element on display within the exhibition has a story. World-renowned head prop-maker, Pierre Bohanna, has helped tell these stories through the popular Harry Potter™: The Exhibition Audio Tour, and he will be here LIVE to discuss how costumes and props were developed and selected.

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.

Warner Bros. Studio Tour London with Nick Dudman and Warwick Davis – Join award-winning special make-up effects artist Nick Dudman and learn how creature effects were brought to life in the Harry Potter™ films to create Aragog, Buckbeak™, and goblins. Warner Bros. Studio Tour London presents this exclusive panel with Nick and Warwick Davis, who portrayed Professor Flitwick™ and Griphook™ on-screen.

Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris – This interactive panel will offer you the chance to pick up your wand and take part in a live duelling masterclass, hosted by Warner Bros. Studio Tour London and featuring the world’s only Wand Combat Choreographer, Paul Harris. He was the choreographer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and created the physical language of wand combat.

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” 2017 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 27. Regular park guests will not be able to partake in this event.

Folks who purchase the premium Celebration of Harry Potter vacation package will have access to a special reception at the expo on Saturday, January 28. 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 dark
Diagon Alley after dark.

A Celebration of Harry Potter Vacation Packages

Celebration packages remain on sale! In 2016, it was only two weeks prior to the event before packages sold out. In 2014, packages sold out in a few days. In 2013, all packages sold out in two days.

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
  • commemorative pin
  • 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 the new Sapphire Falls Resort or Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s on-site preferred hotels, pricing starts at $479 per adult, per night (tax inclusive). (18.3% price increase from 2016)

For accommodations at either Hard Rock Hotel or Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal’s on-site premier hotels, pricing starts at $535 per adult, per night (tax inclusive). (27.7% price increase from 2o16)

Celebration Vacation Package

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 $215 per adult, per night (tax inclusive). (8% price increase from 2016)

At Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s on-site prime value hotel, pricing begins at $249 per adult, per night (tax inclusive). (6% price increase from 2016)

At the new Sapphire Falls Resort or Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s on-site preferred hotel, pricing begins at $279 per adult, per night (tax inclusive). (8.5% price decrease from 2016)

At Hard Rock Hotel or Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal’s on-site premier hotels, pricing begins at $339 per adult, per night (tax inclusive). (6.3% price increase from 2016)

Annual Passholder Vacation Package

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 $135 per adult, per night (tax inclusive). (4.7% price increase from 2016)

At Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s on-site prime value hotel, pricing begins at $169 per adult, per night (tax inclusive). (2.4% price increase from 2016)

At the new Sapphire Falls Resort or Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s on-site preferred hotel, pricing begins at $199 per adult, per night (tax inclusive). (15.3% price decrease from 2016)

At Hard Rock Hotel or Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal’s on-site premier hotels, pricing begins at $245 per adult, per night (tax inclusive). (4% price increase from 2016)

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

Packages are on sale at 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 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 sunset
Hogsmeade from the distance at sunset.

Will the packages sell out?

As noted above, all types of the A Celebration of Harry Potter vacation packages will likely sell out. It is especially likely that the premium and annual pass packages sell out.

Which Harry Potter stars will be there?

Here’s the film talent lineup for 2017. Those who purchased the Premium vacation package will have an opportunity for autographs and photos will select talent. There will be no other official autograph or photo sessions.

  • Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy)
  • Jason Isaacs (Lucius Malfoy)
  • Warwick Davis (Filius Flitwick/Griphook)
  • Matthew Lewis (Neville Longbottom)

Costumes at A Celebration of Harry Potter

Attendees may wear costumes at both theme parks on January 27-29, 2017. 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 our Facebook group and our vacation planning community will do our best to answer your question.