OI Center
Home OI Universal Center Annual events at Universal Orlando – complete insider’s guide A Celebration of Harry Potter 2018 – complete insider’s guide

A Celebration of Harry Potter 2018 – complete insider’s guide

Universal Orlando Resort and Warner Bros. will host the fifth annual Celebration of Harry Potter from January 26 to 28, 2018. This special gathering of Harry Potter fans from around the globe will feature an array of experiences, from actor Q&As to exclusive merchandise.

On this page, you’ll learn all you need to know about the celebration.

What is A Celebration of Harry Potter?

The event, now in its fifth year, gives Harry Potter fans a special opportunity to learn more about and be a part of the wizarding world created by J.K. Rowling. Last year’s gathering featured question-and-answer sessions with talent from the films, panels/demonstrations with the creators of the theme parks’ Wizarding World of Harry Potter, artists, and other notable guests. In addition, an exclusive expo is set up in two of Universal’s soundstages with exhibits and special items from the movies.

A Celebration of Harry Potter 2018 film talent roster
A Celebration of Harry Potter 2018 film talent roster

2018’s lineup consists of first-timer Stanislav Ianevski (Viktor Krum from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire); Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), who last made an appearance at 2016’s event; another newcomer, Natalia Tena (Nymphadora Tonks); and old stand-bys – and fan favorites – James and Oliver Phelps (Fred and George Weasley). These five actors will comprise the entirety of the film roster, marking the first time Universal has expanded it to five guests since 2016.

With the attendees now fully assembled, we can definitively say that fans are in for another great Celebration.

What are this year’s experiences?

Each and every Celebration of Harry Potter strives for a balance between new additions and returning favorites, and 2018 looks to be no different.

Let’s dive into the fresh experiences before summing up the old-faithfuls. There are three brand-new panels being rolled out for this year:

  • Special effects supervisor John Richardson Q&A – “special effects” refer to anything done practically on-set, and in the case of the Harry Potter films, that included everything from flying broomsticks to fire-breathing dragons. The award-winning SFX supervisor for all eight movies shares his behind-the-scenes secrets on how he pulled them all off.
  • Graphic Design for Film: Creating the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes – Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina of MinaLima are here to chat about what went into bringing Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes to life.
  • The Magic of Costumes in Harry Potter – join Jany Temime, the award-winning costume designer behind the last six films, and Eddie Newquist, exhibition curator, to talk about the amazing costumes in the Harry Potter series.

In addition, the Harry Potter Expo (that portion of the Celebration that is held in a soundstage and which contains a number of different booths for guests to visit) will brandish the first-ever Wizarding Costumes from Harry Potter: The Exhibition, which will contain a collection of the films’ various costumes for fans to peruse. Oh, yeah – it’ll also feature an “one-of-a-kind” photo op in the form of a wizarding fashion runway.

Returning attractions include The Sorting Hat Experience (where guests get sorted into a Hogwarts house), Pottermore trivia questions, Scholastic‘s book booth, and a section representing the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London. Finally, there will also be an updated look at Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the stage play that is set to open on Broadway on April 22, 2018 (it held its world premiere in London on July 30, 2016).

Just to give you a taste of what to expect, here’s a look back at last year’s festivities:

Want even more? Check out our Celebration of Harry Potter 2016 recap.

A Celebration of Harry Potter vacation packages

UPDATE (12:43 pm, 01.11.18): Universal just announced this morning that vacation-package holders will be able to attend a special sneak preview of the new Harry Potter projection-mapping show, The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle, on the night of Friday, January 26. You can find the full details here.

Celebration vacation packages went on sale starting on November 20, 2017. If you’re interested in purchasing one, we suggest you do so as quickly as you possibly can; in previous years, all packages sold out anywhere from two weeks to two days after going on sale.

This year, Universal is offering three different Celebration of Harry Potter vacation packages (excluding the Florida resident one). All packages include:

  • Three-night hotel accommodations
  • Access to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter evening event
  • Commemorative pin
  • Special guest access to the expo and to select panels and demonstrations
  • Commemorative merchandise
  • Early park admission
  • Breakfast at The Three Broomsticks
  • An exclusive talent question-and-answer session

Premium vacation package

The Celebration of Harry Potter Premium vacation package boasts the best offerings and the highest pricing. In addition to the items listed above, it also includes:

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

For accommodations at Sapphire Falls Resort or Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s Preferred on-site hotels, pricing starts at $599 per adult, per night, tax inclusive (25% price increase from 2017).

For accommodations at either Hard Rock Hotel or Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal’s Premier on-site hotels, pricing starts at $669 per adult, per night, tax inclusive (25% price increase from 2o17).

Celebration vacation package

This is the standard package for A Celebration of Harry Potter. It is more budget friendly, but it 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, also, three-day park-to-park admission (to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure).

For accommodations at an Universal partner hotel, pricing begins at $235 per adult, per night, tax inclusive (9% price increase from 2017).

At Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s Prime Value on-site hotel, pricing begins at $285 per adult, per night (tax inclusive) (14% price increase from 2017).

At Sapphire Falls Resort or Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s Preferred on-site hotels, pricing begins at $315 per adult, per night, tax inclusive (12.9% price increase from 2017).

At Hard Rock Hotel or Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal’s Premier on-site hotels, pricing begins at $385 per adult, per night, tax inclusive (13.5% price increase from 2017).

UPDATE 12.05.17: Universal has a special, limited-time sale right now for Celebration vacation packages. Guests can save $150 if they use promotional code UNICOHP at the time of purchase – just be sure to do so before January 22, 2018 (or before the limited number of slots sell out).

 

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 an Universal partner hotel, pricing begins at $139 per adult, per night, tax inclusive (3% price increase from 2017).

At Cabana Bay Beach Resort, Universal’s Prime Value on-site hotel, pricing begins at $189 per adult, per night, tax inclusive (11.8% price increase from 2017).

At Sapphire Falls Resort or Royal Pacific Resort, Universal’s Preferred on-site hotels, pricing begins at $199 per adult, per night, tax inclusive (8% price increase from 2017).

At Hard Rock Hotel or Portofino Bay Hotel, Universal’s Premier on-site hotels, pricing begins at $245 per adult, per night, tax inclusive (16% price increase from 2017).

How to book A Celebration of Harry Potter vacation packages

Packages are on sale at Universal’s website.

Hogsmeade from the distance at sunset
Hogsmeade from the distance at sunset

Will the packages sell out?

As noted above, all types of the 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?

Once again, here’s the film talent lineup for 2018. Those who purchased the Premium vacation package will have an opportunity for autographs and photos will select members of this roster. (Please note that there will be no other official autograph or photo sessions.)

  • Stanislav Ianevski (Viktor Krum)
  • Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley)
  • James Phelps (Fred Weasley)
  • Oliver Phelps (George Weasley)

What was the schedule like for last year?

Since we don’t yet have a schedule for 2018, here’s how the lineup of events played out in 2017. (Since the schedule itself remains remarkably consistent from year to year, this should be a great sneak peek for all you attending muggles.)

Friday, January 29, 2017

The Harry Potter Expo is open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at Soundstage 33. The entrance is near Revenge of the Mummy.
Movie in the Park (Universal Music Plaza) – 1:30 pm
Opening night event (Music Plaza) – 7:30 pm – 8:00 pm

Saturday, January 30, 2017

The Harry Potter Expo is open from 9:00 am to 4:30 pm at Soundstage 33. The entrance is near Mummy.
Kids’ Dueling Demonstration and Wand Masterclass with Paul Harris (Universal Music Plaza) – 10:00 am
Kids’ Harry Potter Film Trivia (Music Plaza) – 10:45 am
Bringing the Harry Potter Films to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) – 11:00 am
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang (Music Plaza) – 11:30 am
The Global Impact of Harry Potter: The Exhibition (Amphitheater) – 1:00 pm
Kids’ Harry Potter Film Trivia (Music Plaza) – 2:00 pm
Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films with MinaLima (Amphitheater) – 2:00 pm
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang (Music Plaza) – 2:45 pm
Harry Potter Props Showcase with Acclaimed Prop Maker Pierre Bohana (Amphitheater) – 3:00 pm
Behind the Scenes: Harry Potter Film Talent Q&A Session (Music Plaza) – 4:15 pm
House Rally (Music Plaza) – 5:30 pm
Harry Potter Film Tribute (Music Plaza) – 6:45 pm

Sunday, January 31, 2017

The Harry Potter Expo is open from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm at Soundstage 33. The entrance is near Mummy.
Kids’ Dueling Demonstration and Wand Masterclass with Paul Harris (Universal Music Plaza) – 10:00 am
Kids’ Harry Potter Film Trivia (Music Plaza) – 10:45 am
Harry Potter Props Showcase with Acclaimed Prop Maker Pierre Bohana (Toon Lagoon Amphitheater) – 11:00 am
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang (Music Plaza) – 11:30 am
Bringing the Harry Potter Films to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter (Amphitheater) – 1:00 pm
Kids’ Harry Potter Film Trivia (Music Plaza) – 2:00 pm
Graphic Design for the Harry Potter Films with MinaLima (Amphitheater) – 2:00 pm
Kids’ Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang (Music Plaza) – 2:45 pm
The Global Impact of Harry Potter: The Exhibition (Amphitheater) – 3:00 pm
Behind the Scenes: Harry Potter Film Talent Q&A Session (Music Plaza) – 4:00 pm

Expanded details on some of the 2017 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.

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.

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 and Battle Like a Durmstrang – If your younger Harry Potter fans are entranced by the dances performed by Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students in the 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 that invites 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 Celebration vacation package are eligible for “special guest access” to the expo and panels. Package holders also receive access to an exclusive Q&A 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. In this sense, the 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 in our vacation package section).

Speaking of which…

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

At previous events, one of the major benefits of purchasing a vacation package is that it granted guests access to an exclusive evening at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, complete with desserts and one complimentary Butterbeer. Regular park guests will not be able to partake in this activity.

Folks who purchase the Premium Celebration of Harry Potter vacation package also usually get access to a special reception at the expo. 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 be able to attend.

Diagon Alley after dark
Diagon Alley after dark

Costumes at A Celebration of Harry Potter

Attendees may wear costumes at both theme parks during the event. 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.