Monday, February 2, 2015

Harry Potter Expo at Universal Orlando

I learned last-minute Friday night that Universal was hosting a Harry Potter Expo over the weekend, so yesterday John and I managed to catch the last few hours. There were really only two things to see: a studio walk-through with various props and costumes from the movies, and an outdoor stage with various presentations, like "wand dueling" and  Q&A's with the actors who played the Weasley twins, Luna, & Dumbledore.

So if you missed it, never fear! I have pictures! (Lots... and LOTS... of pictures. Ha!)

The four house founders' costumes at the entrance to the studio tour.

Check out the detail on Rowena Ravenclaw's gown!

Inside it was all one giant space, with activities and displays scattered mostly along the walls:

 Harry's battle-damaged robes from Chamber of Secrets:

One long display case held 6 of the 7 horcruxes:

Nagini's head & Marvolo Gaunt's ring

The other end of the snake, looking down the case:

Rowena Ravenclaw's tiara

 Helga Hufflepuff's cup

Tom Riddle's diary

Godric Gryffindor's sword

Slytherin's locket was really fascinating in person; all the facets and floating bits mean you see something different from every angle:

 I did my best to capture the different shadows:

Next up:

 The flying car!

Bellatrix's costume:

 Never noticed that detailing on her sleeves before.

And Snape's:

But this random Death Eater stole the show:

Sweet leather hat/hood, yes, but check out... his buttons:

Tiny snakes!

Dumbledore's desk:

And because I'm addicted to taking close-ups of props:

Totally want this box:

And does anyone know what this is?

Sorry I couldn't get a clearer shot. Maybe some kind of astrological calendar?

From the display case next to the desk:
Omnioculars! And deliciously steampunky, so of course I want a pair. :)

A model of one of the chess pieces:

And check out the Tiny Twister-in-a-jar! I bet you could make something similar with cotton-wrapped wire and oil.

More weather-related jars from the Weasley twin's shop:

... plus a bottle of Skele-Grow.

The last display case was so poorly lit I couldn't really get any usable shots, but here, have some anyway:

 Bonus reflection of my Back To the Future "Save the clock tower" 5K run t-shirt. :)


And finally, there was a large display area of all the graphic design from the movie (signs, labels, books, etc.), with the two artists responsible for it all at a signing table. (Their company is called MinaLima, btw, and they sell some of their HP goodies online!) Here's a small sampling of their work:

These tiny glass vials caught my eye:

If you look closely, you can see one reads "Thomas Riddle, 1938."  So I think those may have stored Slughorn's memories.

In another case: books, glorious books!

Ah, don't you just want them ALL on your book case? Even When Muggles Attack, because that's  just stinkin' hilarious.

My favorite had this beautiful filigree metal plate attached:

And as we exited through the gift shop (of course), I wanted to take all these trunks home with me:

 K, that does it for the studio tour, so here's a blurry shot of the cast on stage answering questions:

(The guy on the left is the moderator.)

And now, a random Diagon Alley shot:

Every nook and cranny of this place is photogenic. I could spend forever in there with my camera.

And finally, my favorite shots of the day, courtesy of a lovely cast member skulking around the entrance to Knockturn Alley:

  I feel I should point out that her hat has a stuffed rat on it. 

 Sometimes you see Potter cast members with exceptionally great costuming like this, and I can't help but wonder if Universal lets them embellish their own wardrobes.

Anyway, she was perfectly in character: never said a word when I complimented her, just gave a solemn nod. Heh.
Hope you guys had fun visiting the Expo with me!


  1. I'm so jealous! Took my son to a similar display at a museum in Chicago several years ago, before the final movies were made. But they wouldn't allow us to take any pictures. I'm going to have to re-review all of these photos for more detail. Thank you so much for sharing!!!

  2. If you want to get some of those books for yourself Mina Lima sells copies of stuff from the films on their website. I don't know if you saw their presentation at LeakyCon but it is fascinating how they work through and figure out their designs :-) Also they have a limited print for Leaky if you want it for your art collection!

    1. Ah, thanks for mentioning their name; I couldn't remember! Off to add a link to their site now...

  3. You have GOT to visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour in London. Here's just one snapshot from the HUGE wall of all the graphic design stuff - You've totally inspired me to upload loads of my photos :)

    1. I totally agree but get there as early as you can. It takes way more time than they suggest if you want to see as much as possible, stuff is crammed in everywhere!

    2. Absolutely! I was in the first group of the day :)

      And as an example of stuff being everywhere - the cupboard under the stairs is in the freaking lobby! Like, not even in the actual exhibition. So much stuff, it's escaping :D

  4. I'm so glad that you go to these things and take such great pictures, it makes me feel like I got to go myself. All of the costumes and props, so much wonderful.

  5. Teehee I totally thought Snape had a Hello Kitty bag attached to his robes for a moment there...
    Love the pics!!

    1. Bahahah, you're totally right! Aw, I knew Snape was a big ol' softie...

  6. Ahhh, thank you for sharing your pictures! I wasn't allowed to take any when I saw the exhibit in NYC. So many beautiful fine details. <3

  7. I am headed to Orlando over my Spring Break and wondered the best way to buy tickets (if you know of a good way, lol, since you get the lucky resident pricing)? I am only there 3 whole days, so I am planing 2 for Universal (Harry Potter all the way!) and one at either Epcot or Magic Kingdom...I am thinking Epcot...What tips/hints/etc do you have???

    1. No tips on tickets, I'm afraid; anyone offering you a deal on theme park tics down here is almost definitely a time share shark, so beware of anything sounding too good to be true! I think your best bet is to just stick with the parks, and try to save on the hotel, meals, etc.

      I do have an older Disney guide post, though, if you'd like to check out my "must-sees" for each park. (And I really need to update that thing, come to think of it...)

    2. If you're from North America, there's a website deal on universal's website to get 3 days for the price of 2. It's probably the most economical way to do that particular theme park, but it's only good for residents of the US, Canada, and Mexico, and it has to be done through the website. Don't miss the Mummy ride! It's one of our favorites in the park (along with the Men in Black ride, but that's partly because we're a video gaming family). The Minion Mayhem ride has the worst line on the way in, but it gets a little better after lunch when most people are at the back of the park waiting for the Gringott's ride. It was the longest wait of everything we went on, at 45 minutes, but the line was 55 minutes when we entered the park. We went on a Tuesday, which is one of the least busy days for most theme parks.

      Disney gets less expensive the more days you go (and I think there's a slight discount over buying on the website vs buying at the gate). If you're a frequent traveler, and have lots of money to burn, the annual pass is probably the best way to go there, but only if you know you're going a lot during the year. We own a timeshare, and sat through the presentation to get discounted tickets at the place we were staying, and 1 day at Universal Studios was STILL $96, so if you're going to bite the bullet and take the timeshare presentation, go for one of the $39 ones advertised along I-75. Since you're only there 3 days, it's probably better to bite the bullet and pay the bigger fees than to squander 2 hours of your vacation.

      A small Orlando tip: be prepared to buy/bring bottled water (if you drink water at all). Everywhere I've stayed in Orlando/Kissimmee area has awful tap water. It has a distinctly swampy taste to it. I'm not usually a water snob, but the water there is really gross without a filter. Also, people in Orlando drive crazy. We went there last week on vacation, and I had a new appreciation for Jen's reluctance to drive anywhere. From tourists that stop on a dime and change lanes without notice to Florida residents who also change lanes without notice and can't decide whether they're speeding or going 15 under the speed limit, it was an occasionally frustrating experience. Though maybe all the crazy drivers went home the same time we did. :D

      I personally prefer Magic Kingdom to Epcot, given the choice between the two, unless they've significantly changed the big areas in Epcot. There are some cool things in Epcot, but there are more of them at Magic Kingdom. The World Showcase in Epcot is kind of neat to walk through and take pictures, but it's a long walk, and there isn't much to do in each of the areas besides gift shops. The front area of the park isn't as bad walking-wise, but the exhibits were geared more towards education and less towards fun, from what I remember (caveat: last visit was in 1997, so some things have definitely changed since then. I thought the best thing in Epcot was the golf ball ride :P, Figment, and the Norwegian ride, and they got rid of the Norwegian ride and revamped Figment). I'm sure Jen can give you better recommendations on the current parks, but it seems like Magic Kingdom is more fun, and Epcot is more educational.

      When we went grocery shopping, I said, "I wonder if Jen and John shop here." I'm sure my daughter was sick of it by the time we left. :D

  8. Love looking through the photos - excellent shots! Must have been such fun!

  9. Wow - that is awesome! I wish is was a permanent display at Universal - like One Man's Dream at WDW. I'd love to be able to spend some time enjoying all that. Thanks for sharing; glad you found out about it in time to enjoy it!

  10. Oh, cool photos. And I have faith that you could make that box from Dumbledore's desk.

  11. Okay, now I understand why the actors who play the Weasley twins have been at the last two Orlando Magic games lol.

  12. Thank you from Arizona! Been dying to visit but haven't made it yet so I appreciate the walk through. It's almost as good as a real visit!

  13. Thank you from Arizona! Been dying to visit but haven't made it yet so I appreciate the walk through. It's almost as good as a real visit!

  14. Thanks so much for sharing! What an amazing exhibition!

  15. Great pictures! I'm a sucker for costume detail shots, and these are gorgeous.

  16. We visited Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade a couple of months ago. I took a bazillion photos. It was hard not to.

  17. Soooo cool. I can't wait to visit!

  18. If you like detailing in costume and props and such, you really ought to try Game of Thrones. Fall in love with the costumes, not the characters. It's safer that way.

  19. Eep, so jealous! I still haven't been to WWHP (bad Potterhead) but since my cousin is getting married in Sarasota in May, my sister-in-law and I have been planning to take a few days to go to Orlando and to the parks since we haven't been in years. I'm sad that they didn't push the Expo back a few months *pouts*

  20. Thanks for the awesome post. It's Nagini, rather than Nagani, BTW. (I can't help it; I'm an editor.)

  21. Is this all on loan from the studio tour in London? (WHICH IS AMAZING BY THE WAY). Because I literally have a picture of me sat in the flying car from that.

    1. Such a shame they cordoned it off for you guys then! Jen if you ever make it to London you HAVE to go on that studio tour. It's worth the money just for seeing the Hogwarts castle miniature they used for all the scenery shots. Me and the friend I went with were close to tears.

  22. I'm SURE I know what kind of device that projection-grid thingy was ripped off, er, adapted from, some sort of Gunter scale or suchlike (old mathematical instruments FTW!). I will have a poke round and report back...



  23. And btw, gotta tut-tut a bit over the label "Thomas Riddle", right? His full name, of course, was "Tom Marvolo Riddle"; I don't think there's anywhere in the canon that he was ever called "Thomas" by anybody.

    Kim "it may be only three letters but it's my actual name not a nickname dagnabbit" stu

  24. If I remember correctly - the Death Eater costume was Malfoy's (not just a random one).
    The other amazing bit about the House Founder Costumes were that they were designed only for the actors to wear in the portraits - meaning limited screen time and not a lot of visibility, but the detail was so amazing!
    We were also blown away by the level of detail minalima put in to the props. If you had a chance to attend their presentation, they mentioned that every issue of the Daily Prophet was different and complete! Down to the puzzles, ads, and articles. Same for the Quibbler and a lot of the books. They weren't just covers. Crazy level of detail here.
    So glad we got the opportunity to go and will have to plan a visit to London to see the whole thing!

  25. If I wasn't already pretty certain about being a Ravenclaw, Rowena's dress would push me over that edge. Simply stunning. Thank you for sharing your pictures!

  26. Thank you so much for sharing your pictures, even the ones that you didn't think were good. ;)

  27. I'm sure I've said this before but once again, thank you for letting us live vicariously through you and John. This makes me so happy <3

  28. I think you should do a meet up with fans to walk around and take pics. :)

  29. Working at Hogwarts or Diagon Alley would be a dream. And, I bet these cast members would be stellar at LARPing. I mean, they do live-action role play for a living. What a game that would be! ::swoon::


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