Last weekend was Universal Orlando's "Celebration of Harry Potter", and I have pictures.
Universal may not do a huge amount for this event, but there's no extra fee for admission, and it's worth the trip just for the guest costumes. The guests wear and do some amaaaazing stuff, and I will forever love Uni for allowing us adults to dress up. We can only hope it never becomes so much of a security issue that they ban costumes like Disney did. Fingers crossed!
With all the costumes around, HPC feels like a mini-convention in a theme park, and needless to say, the people-watching is fantastic.
It was also nice and chilly (yay 65 degrees!), so no one was sweating through their robes.
As for the park-added elements, you get two expo buildings, a Sorting Hat "experience", and the main stage at the front of the park hosts some presentations and cast Q&As. I promise all of these sound more impressive than they actually are.
The Sorting Hat Experience: they hold a hat over your head, the speaker plays a pre-recorded voice announcing your house. (If you're wearing any merch or express a preference for a House, that's the one you'll get.)
This year the expos were a bit lacking, so many folks were irked after waiting upwards of 3 hours in line just for a photo op (albeit a very cool one,) a tiny handful of costumes/props, and a gift shop.
The main expo building. The yellow building-within-a-building there is the line for the "studio tour" photo op, which averaged 1-2 hours. (After waiting an hour or more to get into this building.)
The only film items on display here were these costumes from Fantastic Beasts:
Let's not talk about how spotlights in a dark room make everything impossible to photograph. Bleh.
Mina Lima's booth was awesome as always:
They're the company responsible for all the posters, packaging, books, and graphic art in all the films:
They had some new Fantastic Beasts prints and postcards out, which are gorgeous:
Also an event-exclusive art print:
There was also an event-exclusive wand you could pre-order, but it was hidden away in a dark corner under scratched glass - no sign, no attendant, no nothing - so I wonder how many people found it:
I had a heckuva time getting it to show up, but it's a lovely fluted black and silver design. It cost $65(!!) and won't ship until May(??), but John caved and ordered one anyway.
This year's event merchandise had some gorgeous artwork on it:
You could get t-shirts, key-rings, postcards, mugs - even leggings - with this art on it. Pretty cool.
[CAUTION: Images of fake spiders ahead.]
If you waited another hour or two for the Studio Tour, you got to see what all that "Follow The Spiders" social media hype was about:
There were spiders painted on the floor throughout, leading you to:
This work room, where two artisans worked on giant spider legs. On the walls were a few goblin masks, and this Hagrid costume to the side:
Then came my favorite part: you round a corner into a tiny blank hallway, and a lady asks, "Do any of you have an extreme fear of spiders?" Keep in mind this is AFTER we've all waited at least an hour to get here - with no warnings anywhere - and so far the only thing we've seen are a giant pair of spider legs.
A few hands go up in response. "OK," the lady says, "We have a special exit for you."
[WARNING: BIG spider stuff ahead. Scroll quickly if that squicks you out.]
Then the rest of us round the corner for...
Sha-POW! Life-sized Aragog!
I didn't like our own picture, so that's the lady in front of us for scale.
They hustle you through, but I was able to lurk at the exit door long enough to get this side view.
That's right, that's the entire Studio Tour. Can I get a sad trombone "WAH WAH waaaaa"?
Hey, you don't have an extreme fear of spiders, do you?
(Sorry. That was just too funny to me.)
Now let's take a quick mosey over to the second Expo building, which was even more sparse than the first. The only real attraction here was the not-currently-Flying Car:
...and an extraordinarily creepy Frozen Hermione dummy:
I have some disturbing close-ups, but after Aragog, I'll spare you.
The booths here were sponsored things from LEGO Dimensions and Audible. Again, not much to see.
There were free posters, though, just like last year. In fact, I hear you could have as many of these as you wanted, with some folks asking for 10 at a time!
It's a beautiful quality on heavy textured paper, so I'm sure they're all over ebay by now. (We just got one each, so I'll be giving away our extra next post, stay tuned.)
It was easier to chat with folks inside the expos, since we were all milling around or standing in line together anyway. I met a girl in line who was leading her girlfriend around the park on a Potter-themed scavenger hunt, and was planning to propose in front of the castle at the end! I got to see the ring and clues and everything - SO cool.
I also chatted with this perfect Madame Pomfrey - look at her hourglass pin! She flipped it so the glitter would fall for the picture.
I spotted her whole group later - that's her daughter as Professor Sprout:
Hard to see, but Earmuffs is grabbing Mandrake Girl's leafy hat. Bahaha!
Mrs.Weasely taking on Bellatrix:
I'd stay away from her daughter, Bellatrix.
Dumbledore, a Beauxbaton's student, and a Quidditch player:
Oh! And here's the most obscure - but arguably the most hilarious - costume of the weekend:
He's dressed as Matthew Lewis... from last year's HP Celebration.
He's also an Epbot reader (the cosplayer, not Matthew Lewis), proving once again our people are the BEST people.
Ok gang, this post is redonkulously long, so stay tuned for part 2, which will be ALL costumes - and much better pictures, since they're taken outside of the black hole of the expo buildings. There are puppets and ballgowns and Jacob from Fantastic Beasts dancing with Celestina Warbeck, so trust me, you don't want to miss it!