Monday, January 30, 2017

Universal's Harry Potter Celebration 2017

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 legsOn 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!


  1. Hahahahaha! I don't have an extreme fear of spiders, so I would love the close-ups of Aragog! (Side note: I think we should all just start randomly asking people if they have an extreme fear of spiders).

  2. Soooo, this got me to thinking I'd like some kind of cute Fantastic Beasts fan art/accessory ... and what could be better than some cute Niffler merchandise Maybe a nice pair of earrings, or a soft toy? I'm saving you all time. Don't look. The world of Niffler merchandise is depressing. Or maybe do look and let me know if you find anything that makes the cuteness grade. :)

    1. OOOH I made a drawing of Newt and the beasties and sell it on Etsy:

      I also was disappointed at the lack of nifflers (except for some very expensive art dolls) so I made my own for my daughter:

    2. Few months late to the party but I like yours - like you say, a bit weird, but not in a terrifying way! xxx

  3. I think I'm going to go next year. Especially because it seems to get more popular every year!

    This is my attempt to share a link to Matthew Lewis's reaction to the ML2016 cosplay.

    1. is the bottom center photo his actual reaction? because it's priceless! well done, sir.

  5. My Barnes & Nobles gave us those posters in December. They had a stack at least 3" high and were giving away as many as you wanted. Maybe some B&N's still have some for those who are looking.

  6. I don't think I've ever heard 65 degrees described as "chilly" before.
    (also Harry Potter, yes good, but still! Florida is...not Montana.)

  7. Thanks for sharing the pics for those of us who didn't make it!

  8. Ha! I scoff at your "chilly" 65°, and give you a high of 55° here in the Midwest, where we're glad to be able to wash our cars and get the salt and grime off without freezing our doors shut. I know, matter of perspective.

    Can't wait for the costumes!

  9. Oh Jen, please warn us if there are going to be any images of spiders. It triggered a very real fear attack and flashbacks of a nightmare I had last night but had forgotten. I should have stopped reading but thought I scrolled down far enough to avoid any others. I was wrong. I now must go fill my mind with old comedy shows to reduce my fear. Thanks for your consideration of this issue.

    1. Sorry about that, Anon, but she did post a warning before the spider pics. "[WARNING: Spider stuff ahead. Scroll quickly if that squicks you out.]"

    2. Thank you John. I must have scrolled faster than I was reading because suddenly a black and white image of a spider appeared. I'm not going to go back to see where I missed it but please thank Jen for being considerate of our possible fears.

    3. Aha, you must mean the black-and-white floor stickers, Anon - I did *not* have a warning before that photo, so I just added one in now. I'm sorry about that!

    4. ;) I just checked back with this post. I was very curious how I missed a warning with the "S word" in it since even the word anywhere on a page will grab my attention and cause issues for me. You might guess that I must live in a northern climate and chose the third floor of a brick fortress to avoid such issues. Even still, once or twice a year an invader makes it in. This summer I was half asleep in the bathroom when a robust one came charging at me. I grabbed a bottle of rubbing alcohol and doused it and fled. My daughter stopped by and took me up on my offer of $20 to "flush away" the remaining problem. I've since made arrangements to accept the offers of two single neighbor men to handle this for me anytime, day or night for free. It isn't easy being me.

  10. "Do you have an extreme fear of spiders?"
    "Then why did you Follow the Spiders? Have you never read the novels or seen the movies?"

  11. Darn it and we JUST went there in mid December!!! Why don't I ever know about cool things?!!

  12. 65 degrees in Florida, sounds about like our winter here in Mississippi. Recently we went from a burn ban to freezing temps to a flash flood all in one week. Counting down the days til fall..
    I bet the spider was cool to see in person on that large scale. I loved those scenes in the movies. My coworker has yet to see that part in the forest because of her phobia.
    This is completely off topic but have yal watched Emerald City on nbc? It is sooo good!! I have waited most of my life for a movie or series actually based on the oz books. The Land of Ev, Langwidere, and Jack have a steampunk vibe i think you and John would enjoy!! (Lady Ev's masks, google it)
    I love what you do, keep being you!

  13. Thanks for always capturing such great things! I'm already excited for part 2!

  14. Thanks for sharing Jen! I love it when you share this stuff with those of us who can't make it!

  15. Thanks for sharing! Always love your posts. Can't wait for the costumes in part 2!

  16. Ooh! I wonder if that Aragog and those spider legs they were making are for the London tour? They're opening a Forbidden Forest expansion in March with spiders in it.

  17. I'd have been one of the ones to take the special exit. lol. I cannot do spiders in person. Even large fake ones. I can see pictures though, so that's good. I love the skill of the creation, just not the character! So yes, thank you for the heads up ^_^ Cannot wait to see part 2.

  18. excited for part 2!!!!!!

  19. Thank you so much for doing this. There are many that spent countless hours on costumes and the fun. You caught me "Madam Pomfrey" and me with my daughter as Professor Sprout and my granddaughter Toni as a Madrake, and our friends Carrie and Craig. Thank you again and awesome for the close up of my hourglass pin that works! - Tricia LaBar (Madam Pomfrey)


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