I always dreamed of visiting a magical place I’d read about in books. The books that I started reading in middle school that turned into the movies I saw at midnight year after year. I visited the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando Resort for the first time last year, decked out in my Ravenclaw sweater. But this time around, I was surrounded by my kind at the Celebration of Harry Potter, the biggest fan event for Potterheads.
After attending fan events like Walker Stalker and DragonCon, I had some expectation about what I would see, especially in terms of cosplay. But what I experienced was well beyond. The event itself is located within the two parks of Universal Orlando Resort and is included within ticket price. It includes events like panels, performances, contests, and classes. There’s even an expo with booths related to the Wizarding World, like Scholastic Books and MinaLima, the graphic designers of the films.
Being a member of the Universal Orlando Resort Blog Squad, we got special access to the event. Not only did we have media passes to get into the expo and panels, but we also got to attend a media-only chat with some of the stars of the films (The Twins! Ginny! Tonks! Viktor!). We might have even spotted them later at one of the hotels. We got to see the first of the nightly lights shows on Hogwarts Castle. And we also got to walk around Diagon Alley after closing.
But I had just as much fun seeing all of the fellow fans. People come from all over the world for this weekend and plan their costumes years in advance. In fact, the winner of the costume contest, who was dressed as Newt Scamander, had been working on his since Fantastic Beasts came out. Cosplayers were young and old, came from all over the world, and were dressed as both notable and obscure characters with unique spins (flapper Luna was a favorite). There’s also a lot of inclusion when it comes to fans with ASL interpreters at every panel and accessibility for those in wheelchairs.
The event also honored the book, which will soon celebrate 20 years since its American release. In addition to the new illustrated editions, the entire series will get a makeover with new illustrated covers. But that’s not all. The touring exhibition of costumes from the movies will make its way to Milan. Harry Potter and the Cursed Child arrives on Broadway this year. And Andrew Lincoln (of The Walking Dead fame) is set to narrate the audiobook of Quidditch Through the Ages. Talk about a geek’s dream.
Fans were able to write what Harry Potter means to them and the answers were beautiful. To me, it’s an escape from a chaotic world, but it’s also a worldwide fan base. If you’re interested in attending Celebration of Harry Potter 2019, I recommend booking as early as possible. It’s a truly amazing event worth the trip.
This post was produced in partnership with Universal Orlando Resort as a member of the Universal Orlando Resort Blog Squad.