A Celebration of Harry Potter will not return in 2019

Hey Thrill Seekers,

We do always try our best to bring you good news from within the world of Orlando theme parks however sometimes we cannot avoid bad news…

This time we aren’t basing off rumours.. Universal have confirmed that A Celebration of Harry Potter isn’t going to return to their parks in 2019. Here’s the official press release:

Universal Orlando Resort is working on exciting new experiences for guests to continue to celebrate the Wizarding World next year. These include the all-new thrill ride coming to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter – Hogsmeade and additional fan experiences that have yet to be announced. While our focus on these fan experiences means we will not be hosting A Celebration of Harry Potter in 2019, we and other Universal theme parks will always be looking for opportunities to host special Wizarding World experiences.

This poses the questions of ‘is it being replaced by something new?’ or ‘are they too busy with the new ride to host it?’ Gavin thinks that they could be replacing it with something Fantastic Beasts themed ‍♀️ Universal have also said that there are going to be ‘additional fan experiences’ like the Back to Hogwarts event hosted on the 1st September.

Now we don’t know if it is just 2019 that Universal have pulled the plug on or future years as well as that isn’t mentioned in the press release. It is quite unusual though, A Celebration of Harry Potter has been going 5 years and each year seems to become more and more popular so surely it cannot be a case of it not bringing in enough witches, wizards and muggles?

Lets take a look back at some of the cool shots we got from last years event.

It’s a sort of bitter-sweet feeling as we don’t like to say goodbye to a fantastic event but we can look forward to what Universal are going to surprise us with in the near future..

Smiles Included,

Abby

Wizarding World of Harry Potter secrets

Hey Thrill Seekers,

So Gavin and I let you in on some secrets we know about the Wizarding World of Harry Potter the other week on OAT Live and I’m going to tell you all my favourites including some new ones we didn’t have time for…

  • Universal hired a large amount of its staff from Britain to ensure the experience is as authentic as possible. Each staff member also has to sit an exam to test their knowledge of the books and films to make sure interactions with guests are as seamless as possible.
  • Harry and Hermione’s voices in Escape From Gringotts aren’t actually their real voices
  • We all know that the Leaky Cauldron serves as a gateway between the magical and muggle world and Universal have added a hint of this to the sign of the Leaky Cauldron. Lets just say be careful of drips if you’re standing underneath the sign..
  • The perfume advertisement that can be found in Kings Cross Station at Universal Studios is not exactly the same as the one in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. The advert in the film says ‘Tonight make a little magic with your man’ however the one used in Kings Cross says ‘make a little magic’ so it is a little less suggestive.
  • In Zonkos Joke Shop you can hear whispering coming from the Extendable Ears which can be found hanging over the registers. If you wish to purchase one, you can however there is a sign warning you of eavesdropping.
  • Also in Zonkos you can buy your very own Pygmy Puff – if you do decide to buy one the attendant will ring the bell and announce your Pygmy Puffs name to the whole shop!
  • Look out for the Pots and Pans cleaning themselves in the window to the left of the Three Broomsticks.
  • If you need to make a pit stop at the single restroom in Hogsmede you won’t be alone… Moaning Myrtle can be heard complaining in the men and the women’s loo’s!
  • It’s not just the Dragon that comes to life every 15 minutes.. every 15 mins a owl will pop out the top of the Owlery just like a cuckoo clock.
  • When in line for The Forbidden Journey if you stop by the potions classroom door and listen very carefully you will be able to hear Neville Longbottom being told off for not performing a spell correctly.
  • Keep an eye out for Kreacher in the window of 12 Grimmauld place if you decide to knock…

So there you have it.. some secrets to impress your mates with the next time you visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Some are tried and tested and some aren’t so let us know if you know of any more!!

Smiles Included,

Abby

Abby’s Annual Halloween Horror Night Predictions

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Yep its that time again where I try to guess what this years Halloween Horror Nights houses will have in store for us. Last year I got 3/6 correct which I was pretty happy about to be honest.

Last year I had the privilege of attending HHN for the first time and it was INCREDIBLE. I feel as though it has also given me an advantage for this blog.  This year I’m confident of beating my previous score and if I’m correct HHN28 is going to be awesome.

Stranger Things

We thought this might make an appearance at HHN27 after Universal big cheese, Mike Aiello, expressed his love for the show on twitter, however due to time constraints (they start working on the following years Halloween horror nights as soon the latest one starts) we feel this might make an appearance this year.

With 2 seasons under its belt and no sign of viewer fatigue we’re guessing that a Stranger Things house will cover the events on season 1 & 2, so expect Demogorgans and a girl with a nosebleed. 

Likelihood: 8/10

IT

One of 2017 most anticipated remakes and although it split audiences it still raked in $700 Million  on a budget of just $35 Million proving that there is definitely a strong fan base there.

IT feels like a very obvious choice for me, the theming is right up Universal’s alley and I can see the house moving from scene to scene easily. Also last year we didn’t see a house with a resident clown so maybe it’s time to step up the clown antics at HHN or could the recent uproar of working clowns vs scary clowns affect this?

Likelihood: 9/10

American Horror Story 

One of the highest rated houses from HHN27 and HHN26 (and my personal favourite) could well return, American Horror Story season 8 is rumoured to be hitting TV’s in the Autumn and will centred around either lust or violence (following the 9 circles of hell.) In 2016 the house featured Murder House, Freak Show and Hotel. Last year it featured Asylum, Coven and Roanoke with their biggest floor plan of the year (you can hear me screaming my way through the 4+ minute house here. ) I think it’s obvious that we would see Cult featured this year!

Universal obviously have a working relationship with FX and the creators of AMS and as Walking Dead’s popularity falls I think American Horror Story is in a good position to become a HHN regular.

Likelihood: 8/10

Five Nights at Freddy’s 

Now this one’s a bit of a hail Mary but bear (excuse the pun) with me. For those who don’t know Five Nights at Freddy’s is a computer game about a security guard looking after a Pizzeria at night, during the night the animatronics come to life and are hell bent on killing stuff.

Here’s the reason we think this could have a chance. Chris Columbus of Harry Potter, Home Alone  and The Goonies fame has signed on to direct a film based on the computer game. The Studio making the film? Friends of Universal, Blumhouse. Who you might remember had a house last year based solely on their horror franchise.

The only thing that makes us doubt ourselves is the timing, the announcement that a film was in the pipeline only happened a few days ago. So perhaps we’re looking at HHN29?

Likelihood: 3/10

Titans of Terror

In Hollywood last year they were blessed with the Titans of Terror, yep Jason, Freddy and Leatherface. We’re thinking that perhaps these classic horror icons might make the trip east to appear at HHN28.

Here’s what Hollywood said about the house;

Fall victim to the silver screen’s most deplorable killers, whose affinity for bladed weapons, redefined the horror movie genre as slasher films: Leatherface (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) wielding his iconic chainsaw, Jason Voorhees (Friday the 13th) brandishing his relentless machete, and Freddy Krueger (A Nightmare on Elm Street) swiping his trademark glove armed with razor blades.
The new maze will be an assault on your sensibilities as you descend into the forbidden realms of these iconic horror monsters and discover the place where these depraved legacies were born.

Likelihood: 6/10

The Purge

Okay, bear with me on this one. I know that the Purge franchise is very popular and featured as a scare zone in 2014, a house in 2015, didn’t feature in 2016 and was back as a scare zone in 2017. It works extremely well in a scare zone  BUT there’s a new Purge film set to be released this year called ‘The First Purge’ (also known as Purge: The Island) which will be a prequel that will focus on the events that lead up to the very first Purge event. So with all loose ends tied up, a beginning, middle and end it could be upgraded to its own house again.. I hope so anyway!

The Purge was by far my favourite Scare Zone of HHN27 and I could imagine it to be a very adrenaline pumping, high energy house that can now also tell a story.

Likelihood: 6/10

Now this one is not included in my predictions as such, it’s more of a wish.. and that is the idea that The Wizarding World of Harry Potter could be incorporated in HHN. How? I hear you ask… Let me explain..

Death Eaters Attack Diagon Alley.

This has already happened at the Japan park, what’s to stop it coming to Orlando?! In Japan guests saw Death Eaters attack Hogsmeade so for Studios if this were to ever happen it would have to take place in Diagon Alley as HHN only features in Universal Studios.

In Japan, as night fell the cheerful world of magic transformed into a world of darkness as the Death Eaters appeared wearing black hoods and masks enabling guests to come fact to face with the followers of Lord Voldermort

This is a very far-fetched idea and I’m pretty sure JK Rowling wouldn’t allow for the Wizarding World to be part of HHN but I think it would be amazing!

Likelihood: 0/10

So there you go, my predictions for Halloween Horror Nights 2018 are out there.. none of these have been confirmed by Universal.

What would you like to see come to HHN this year?

Screams included…

Abby

A Portrait Of A Celebration of Harry Potter

Hey Thrill Seekers,

I was lucky enough to attend this years A Celebration of Harry Potter, after reporting about the event for the past few years from the UK I was so excited to finally get the opportunity to sample the atmosphere in person.

On top of being present at the media event for the talent Universal invited (Ginny, Weasley twins, Tonks and Victor Krum), the opening ceremony and a special night time visit of Diagon Alley I also got access to some of the amazing people that attended. Here is a selection of some of my favourite pictures.

Best Dressed

Jay McDougall (@ragingstormcosplay ) won best costume and for me was a worthy winner. His attention to detail is amazing and I believe the costume took just under 2 years to design and source.

My Favourite Photo

I grabbed this pic on the fly. I happened to be talking to a colleague when I spotted the girls walking down the New York section of Universal. I practically sprinted to grab their picture. The girls were amazing too, they really played up to the camera and I have a few shots of them being awesome but this was my favourite. They’re dressed as the Holyhead Harpies, the all girl quidditch team that play in the British and Irish league.

Craziest Costume

If you come to an event dressed as a couch then for me you’ve won this award hands down.

Most attention

This gentleman was roughly 6′ 5″ and dressed as Professor Umbridge. I watched him try and walk through Diagon Alley and literally every step he took someone stopped him to take a picture. He handled the attention very graciously.

Funniest

There’s so much to love about this picture. When I approached them they were sitting chatting to each other quite normally, as soon as I raised the camera they were straight into House Elf mode.

Most obscure 

…. took me a while to get this one…. but it’s when Neville faces the Boggart and uses the Riddikulus spell on his worse fear, Professor Snape.

Cutest

I love this one, it totally looks like just two old mates hanging out in Diagon Alley plus the costumes are amazing.

Best of the rest

If you get the chance to visit A Celebration of Harry Potter next year then I would encourage you to not only do it but dress up and get involved. I really wish I had.

Smiles included…

Gavin

Universal Begin Construction Of New Wizarding Attraction

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Ever since Universal confirmed that Dragon Challenge would be closing we’ve been patiently waiting for an announcement for what would be replacing the well loved coaster.

We’ve speculated, you can read it here, and at the time the link looked solid however on Saturday we were informed about a reddit thread that might be shedding even more light on what we can expect at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

User Miker_Incredible (according to himself) is an active employee of Universal Orlando Resort and had this to say;

black supports have arrived and footers have been poured for the new Wizarding World roller coaster. It seems like it is going to be a suspended/inverted coaster, as the support-to-track connectors are “underneath” the support structure.

Hmm interesting. The revelation that the coaster would be a suspended/inverted type has led to speculation about exactly what the ride could be. The major theory which is supported by quite a few bloggers, is that Universal are looking to build something similar to Arthur at German theme park Europa Park.

ARTHUR is an inverted-spinning dark ride roller coaster which has been praised for its theming (Universal are all about the theming).

Riders are suspended beneath the steel roller coaster track in one of nine, 12-person vehicles. The 550-metre-long (1,800 ft) attraction features a theoretical hourly capacity of 1,600 riders. The ride features seven scenes both inside and outside the show building. Unlike most roller coasters, Arthur – The Ride does not require gravity for movement, instead it is powered by motors inside the trains. It begins with a spiral lift hill. The ride features animatronics by Life Formations and Heimotion, as well as other 4D effects such as water, wind and scents

The Arthur coaster is made by MACK rides and recently won the THEA Award for the Best Ride System. Arthur is most definitely a family ride with some thrills which does kind of fit the little information we’ve had from Universal. Take a look at this video to see what we might expect…

We’d expect Universal to ramp up the thrills a little bit but the mix of dark ride and coaster with both an indoor and outdoor experience does feel right.

We’ll keep you updated when we learn more…

Smiles included…

Jamie

New Harry Potter Film Star, Panels and Experiences Revealed for A Celebration of Harry Potter

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Universal have announced some more details for A Celebration of Harry Potter…

Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) has been confirmed as another film star to join the line up for next years highly anticipated event. Universal also announces new content and returning favourites for all you witches, wizards and muggles to join in on at the Harry Potter Expo:

  • NEW: Wizarding Costumes from Harry Potter: The Exhibition”
  • You’ll be able see some of the most stunning costumes from the Harry Potter series and walk the runway to pose for a one-of-a-kind keepsake photo.
  • The Sorting Hat Experience
  • “ If you don’t know your Hogwarts house, you’ll have the chance to find out if you’re a Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Gryffindor or Slytherin at The Sorting Hat Experience.

  • Pottermore
  • Start practicing your Harry Potter trivia because Audible Recall is back with updated questions. And, you can even play against your fellow housemates with house-specific rounds each day of the event. #HogwartsRules
  • Scholastic
  • Scholastic is celebrating 20 years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was first published. You can write your favourite Harry Potter memory on the Muggle Wall, step into a life-sized recreation of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and enter to win one-of-a-kind Harry Potter prizes.

  • MinaLima
  • Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima are back this year to share their graphic designs of Weasleys Wizard Wheezes and so much more.
  • Warner Bros. Studio Tour London
  • The Making of Harry Potter is back to give you the opportunity to see first-hand some of the incredible effects that were used in the Harry Potter film series.
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
  • As the play gets ready to open on Broadway, you’ll get an exclusive, never-seen-before look at the costumes, designs and imagery from the production.

Also, get ready for three brand-new panels you won’t want to miss:

  • Discover Behind-the-Scenes Secrets with Award Winning Special Effects Supervisor, John Richardson The magic comes alive as John Richardson  Special Effects Supervisor on all eight Harry Potter films shares with you how flying broomsticks, floating candles, wand explosions, fire-breathing dragons, and more were created on the Harry Potter film set.
  • 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, award-winning costume designer behind the last six films, and Eddie Newquist, exhibition curator, to talk about the amazing costumes in the Harry Potter films.

Harry Potter is EVERYWHERE at the moment and I LOVE it 😀

Smiles included

Jess

THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS AT HOGWARTS CASTLE

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Get your house scarves at the ready, our mate Mike Aiello has posted some more information over night about Christmas at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and in particular, Hogwarts Castle.

Earlier in the year Universal revealed loads of holiday fun coming to Diagon Alley and Hogsmede and now we have some more details about the Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Castle. Every night at Universal’s Islands of Adventure you will be able to see the latest projection-mapping technology in use as it brings Hogwarts castle to life. “A spell will be cast on Hogwarts Castle, illuminating it in festive décor, candlelight and moments inspired by the films.”

On top of the Hot Butterbeer, festive garlands, holiday food and new entertainment you can now witness the ghosts of Hogwarts singing carols, students riding broomsticks and creating snowmen and ‘many more surprises’

Mike has advised that the experience is available multiple times throughout the evenings and hints that later shows provide the best viewing experience.

Also in Hogsmeade, you will be able to see the Hogwarts Frog Choir perform, wearing their house scarves they will be singing a brand – new collection of carols

  • “Christmas at Hogwarts” – This wizarding carol casts a Christmas spell that echoes through the halls of Hogwarts.
  • “We Wish You A Merry Christmas” – The choir will bring a new and festive life to this classic holiday song.
  • “The Most Magical Yule Ball of All” – Hosting the TriWizard Tournament also brings with it a magical event known as the Yule Ball. This song captures all the magic, elegance and wonder of this very special night.
  • “I Cast a Spell On Father Christmas” – This fun song is a cautionary tale asking young wizards to be sure of the incantation before casting a spell.

The music doesn’t stop there. Hop on the Hogwarts Express over to Diagon Alley in Universal Studios to see the singing sorceress Celestina Warbeck and her Banshees. They’re conjuring four new tunes from her chart-topping holiday album, Nothin’ Like A Holiday Spell with hits like:

  • “Nothing Like a Holiday Spell” – There are many spells and charms in the wizarding world. But during this time of year, conjuring warm feelings of yuletide cheer is the most magical spell of all.
  • “Accio Christmas” – This calypso inspired song officially brings a Christmas rhythm of the islands to the British Isles.
  • “My Baby Gave Me a Hippogriff for Christmas” – Have you ever received a gift that wasn’t exactly what you were expecting? This song describes one such moment our singing sorceress experienced.
  • “A Witch and Wizard’s Wintry Wondrous Land” – This classic wizarding carol shows there’s nothing more lovely than sharing the Christmas season with family friends—and of course Celestina’s fans.

 

Its only a few days until the Holiday Celebrations at Universal kick off and i’m so excited! Who’s going to experience the Magic of Christmas this year?

Smiles Included,

Abby

Universal Purchase MORE Land

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Sooo Universal have just bought a further 101 acres of land on Sand Lake Road which makes the new total amount of land they now have a whopping 575 acres!

This would be more than enough room for a fourth theme park AND a new hotel. There is no word yet on what Universal are going to fill this space with.

Universal have already got 3 new hotels on the go – Aventura hotel and at least 2 more planned for the site of Wet ‘n Wild and I do think they will be planning to build another hotel on this land also.. they have enough room, so why not?!

We will be seeing a new park for sure and with more hotels comes more guests so maybe even a second City Walk. I’d love to see a new park or two, the amount of land they have is more than the other 3 Universal parks put together so the possibilities are pretty endless.  Of course the biggest speculation is around a whole Wizarding World of Harry Potter park and i’m totally all for that. I’ve been chatting to the other guys here at OAT towers to see what their ideas for new parks / attractions would be and i’ve created a list:

  • The Walking Dead
  • Nintendo Park
  • New Theatre
  • Jurassic Park / World
  • How to train your Dragon
  • Madagascar
  • Wizarding World of Harry Potter
  • Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them
  • Convention Center

  • Although very unlikely I would LOVE to see a whole land dedicated to horror, perhaps a year round horror themed land.. Now that would be unlike any other park! (Maybe I just love Halloween Horror Nights too much)

The locations of the newly purchased land and current resort location has left us wondering how Universal plan to move guests to and from parks to hotels. There’s been a few rumours surrounding monorails or buses with dedicated lanes.

The above is purely rumours and speculation as there has been no word or confirmation from Universal surrounding it. What would you like to see built on the newly purchased land?!

Smiles Included

Abby

Universal Confirm More Celebration of Harry Potter Details

Hey Thrill Seekers,

Are you in Orlando from the 26th January to the 28th January?

Have you purchased a 3 park Explorer ticket from us?

Do you love Harry Potter?

If you can answer yes to all these questions then WOOOHOOO because the much loved “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will be taking place at Universal Orlando Resort on those exact dates.

What can we expect I hear you cry?

Harry Potter Chalk Art Walk

Prepare to be blown away by some of the most talented chalk artists who will draw your favourite characters and scenes from Harry Potter, as well as Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.

You can also let your creativity shine and show off your skills in the fan chalk art gallery that will be on display throughout the entire event.

Film Screenings

Time to grab a Butterbeer and watch the Harry Potter films we all love on the Music Plaza big screen. Relive your favorite moments from the movies with people who adore them just as much as you.

Harry Potter Knowledge Challenge

It’s time to finally put those trivia skills to the test. This audience-participation game will have fans of all ages showing off how well they really know the Harry Potter films.

Dance like a Beauxbatons and Battle like a Durmstrang

Raise your hand if you wish you had been in the Great Hall when Beauxbattons and Durmstrang made their grand entrance.

At this demonstration, you’ll learn the movements and techniques from a Universal Orlando choreographer that works with the Beauxbatons and Durmstrang students who perform at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Learn Wand Combat Skills with Paul Harris

Some of the best scenes from the Harry Potter films have included epic wand duels that left us glued to the screen.

You’ll be able to take part in the action by learning how to duel with the world’s only Wand Combat Choreographer, Paul Harris. A kids panel will also be offered for guests ages 12 and under.

Smiles included…

Jamie

A Celebration of Harry Potter Confirm Guests

Hey Thrill Seekers,

As we already knew, Universal’s A Celebration of Harry Potter will be returning for its 5th year in 2018. Universal have confirmed that the Celebration will start on January 26th and culminate on 28th.

A Celebration of Harry Potter is open to all Orlando Attraction Tickets customers who have purchased an Explorer ticket and includes Q&A sessions with select Harry Potter film stars, as well as special panels, demonstrations, activities and displays that celebrate J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World.

Universal confirmed yesterday that Fred and George Weasley AKA James and Oliver Phelps will be attending as will Stanislav Yanevski, who played the role of Viktor Krum.

More information about the event will be released and we’ll be sure to post about it here.

Smiles included…

Jamie