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

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

NEW Nighttime Light Show at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!

Hey Thrill Seekers,

I’m sure Gavin and I jinxed this. 🙁 The minute we finished OAT Live Universal announced a new nighttime Light show at Hogwarts Castle!

Grab your wands and robes because an all new projection mapping experience called The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle is coming to Universal and will have guests celebrate all four houses in all their glory by transforming Hogwarts Castle with special effects, music, lights and much more.

Each of the four houses – Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and HufflePuff will ‘wrap itself around the castle’ as they showcase their pride in their own unique ways in time with the moving music from the films. This will definitely give me goosebumps (maybe even a tear 😉 )

The Nighttime Lights at Hogwarts Castle is set to debut on Wednesday 31st January through to Monday the 5th February as well as from Wednesday the 7th February through to Monday 12th February. Universal have said that additional dates will be announced later so don’t fear if your holiday date isn’t above. Guests to A Celebration of Harry Potter (27th and 28th Jan) will get to see a preview too! (lucky Gavin!)

The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts Caste looked absolutely A-MA-ZING so if it is (and it will be) as fabulous as this then guests are in for a right treat! Just picture it now.. Hogwarts lit up in your house colour, wand in hand, soundtrack blaring, tear in your eye… Ahhh! 😀

Who’s going to Universal in Feb and will get to see this?!

Smiles Included

Abby

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

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

Abby’s Orlando Adventure, Part 1. Universal

Hey Thrill Seekers!

I’M BACK!!

I’ve been back a few days now – just about getting over the jet lag but still wishing I was in Orlando.. 🙁 I had the most AMAZING week out in Orlando and had the opportunity to do things i’ve only ever been able to dream of doing until now. I’m going to let you all know what I got up to over a blog or three.  😉 Today’s blog is all about what I got up to at the Universal parks..

So on the 17th September I made my way to Gatwick and met everyone (all 50 of them) at the check in desk ready to do my first ever long haul flight. The flight was fine and seemed like we were there in no time! We then travelled straight from the airport to Universals Cabana Bay Beach Resort which is a really cool 1950’s retro themed hotel. After being shown to our rooms we met over at Loews Sapphire Falls Resort – another one of Universals properties to have a welcome buffet and drinks. At dinner our lovely Universal host Liz gave us the opportunity to go over to Universal Studios to experience Halloween Horror Nights 27. Of course I opted to do this (partly because if i didn’t I would be mocked here at OAT towers) We hopped on a water taxi from Loews over to Universal Studios to experience the best Horror Night event i’ve ever been too! As soon as you walk in to the park it starts, there’s a scare zone after scare zone and so many houses to choose from. I done a mix of Rides and Houses that night, started off on Hollywood Rip Ride Rock It (Kayne West – Stronger, obvious choice 😉 ) – Wicked ride to do in the dark! Also rode TRANSFORMERS-3D, The Simpsons and Men In Black. TRANSFORMERS 3D was my first experience of a simulator ride and it’s safe to say I absolutely LOVED it! Now on to the houses, the first house I went in to was American Horror Story.. one word, terrifying. There is a video / sound clip on our Facebook page that I took whilst walking through the house and you can tell from that how scared I was and also how funny it is to be scared. The attention to detail in the houses is second to none, if you have the chance to go make sure you keep your eyes open the whole time to really take in all of the props and details! The second house I went in was Scarecrow – The Reaping. This house was more jumpy and I did fall over at one point from being scared – not my finest moment ;). The Scare Zones were also amazing and clever, my favourite Scare Zone was the Purge one as you just couldn’t escape! This was closely followed by the Scare Zone Roaming Hordes – Clowns with Chainsaws.. enough said. We made our way back to the hotel at around 1am to get some sleep ready for the next day.

On our first full day we made our way over to Universal Studios where we met our very own VIP tour guides who were going to be taking us around for the morning. We started off by heading in to Diagon Alley – the ‘wow factor’ when you walk in is exactly, if not more, how everyone describes it. We had a quick taste of Butterbeer – I loved this, I love all things sweet and this is definitely sweet, yummy. We then went on to do the Harry Potter and the Escape From Gringotts, I also had a lot of expectations for this ride and it lived up to every single one of them, it’s just so lifelike and cleverly done. After this we met up outside Kings Cross Station, had a few photos with the knight bus and then made our way inside to board the Hogwarts Express. Oh another thing, when you are standing outside Kings Cross you will reeeeeaaaalllllyyyy feel like you are back in London! (let me know below if you know what I mean by this 😉 ) After walking through platform 9 3/4 we hopped in to a carriage.The journey on the Hogwarts Express was soo immersive and be sure to look both left and right throughout the whole journey. In what felt like seconds we had arrived at Hogsmeade in Islands of Adventure, another ‘wow’ moment as you catch a glimpse of Hogwarts Castle for the first time. We headed straight for Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey, probably my favourite of the 2 Harry Potter rides we did, I love the way the ride really puts you in the middle of the action. We then made our way back on to the Hogwarts Express to head back over to Universal Studios, it’s a completely different experience on the way back so make sure you pay close attention (and look out for a cool graphic to do with a tree out of the window side). As we entered Kings Cross earlier on in the morning one of our group had said ‘the only thing missing is a busker’ and as we walked out back in to Universal Studios after departing the Hogwarts Express there was a lady standing at the entrance playing the violin – Universal don’t miss anything do they!  We then got to do most of the iconic attractions in Universal Studios.. Minion Mayhem, Revenge of the Mummy (fantastic ride!!) and Jimmy Fallon were all great, every sense is tested in Jimmy Fallon and the whole experience beforehand is also brilliant. We also rode the Simpsons Ride, TRANSFORMERS 3D, Rip Ride Rock It (Fergie – Glamorous this time) and Men In Black again (well second time for me because i’d stayed out to do them the night before hehe) Men in Black is so much fun, especially when you beat everyone.. not gloating, promise. My favourite ride in Universal Studios, by a mile is TRANSFORMERS – 3D I just absolutely love it for so many reasons. After Universal Studios we headed back to the hotel to get ready for a hosted event at Cuba Libre by Visit Orlando – great fun. 🙂

On the second full day, after breakfast, we made the short walk over to Universals Volcano Bay. After collecting our Tapu Tapus we walked the short path (which is very cleverly located) and turned the corner to be face to face with the Volcano. It is so awesome when you first see it, I had a look around and everyone had just stopped dead to stare or take photos – great backdrop for any photos!! We then got to explore the park at our own leisure, I went on Krakatau Aqua Coaster, Ika Moana, Honu, Te Awa Fearless River, Puihi raft ride and the one i’m most proud of.. Ko’okiri Body Plunge. There wasn’t one slide that I didn’t enjoy here they all made me laugh out loud – that is all bar Ko’okiri which was the only attraction in Orlando I was scared to do before I went and admittedly, I was 10x more scared when I cane face to face with it. Not going to lie, it was the main thing I noticed when I first caught sight of the Volcano after walking in to the park. Ko’okiri features a 70-degree fall through a drop door and a 125 feet descent, to be honest it was sooo much fun I wanted to do it again but we didn’t have enough time! 🙁 Krakatau was also wicked, i’d worked myself up so much about Ko’okiri that i’d partly forgotten about Krakatau but it was so thrilling and the dips and drops are a lot bigger and much faster than I had anticipated. It’s definitely a must!! After Volcano Bay and a quick change of clothes we headed over to Universals Islands of Adventure and were told to not wear any denim or white tops.. if you don’t know then i’ll tell you, IOA is renowned for its water rides! We had planned to do the water rides last though (because we are smart like that) so headed straight over to the Hulk coaster – amazing and the launch is really something else, loved it! We also experienced The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman and Skull Island: Reign of Kong which is a wicked ride with a really cool surprise at the end (I wont ruin it for you). It was then time for the water rides.. We rode Jurassic Park River Adventure which was pretty cool and I sat at the back so didn’t get very wet.  We then opted for Popeye and Blutos Bilge Rat Barges which was hands down the most i’ve laughed on a ride, ever. You can sit in groups of 12 and you get DRENCHED. Luckily (well, for me) we didn’t have time to get on to Dudley Do-rights Ripsaw Falls but got to catch a glimpse of a few others getting absolutely soaked on it.. hehe! Once we were done at Islands of Adventure we headed back to Cabana Bay to get ready for our ‘surprise evening with Universal.’

#volcanobay @universalorlando amazing morning, conquered Ko’Okiri too!! 🌋💚

A post shared by Karl (@orlandoattractiontickets) on

Our surprise evening with Universal was incredible.. we had the whole of Volcano Bay to ourselves, yep you heard it right, the whole park! The lovely Universal had put on a delicious buffet dinner and drinks for us in one of the restaurants and just as we were finishing up our food, the minions walked in to have their photos taken with us! After our photo shoot with the minions we headed down to one of the bars by the Waturi beach for more cocktails and a live band, had a little dance and then we headed down to the beach to watch a fire performer and Waturi dancers, had some more photos taken in front of the Volcano – which changes colour and looks even more awesome in the dark! It was such a fantastic evening and I felt very lucky to be a part of it. After a few more drinks we walked back to Cabana bay for a game of bowling and a night cap. The evening at Volcano Bay concluded our visits to the Universal parks and what a ending it was!!

Overall, my top 3 rides / attractions from the Universal parks were:

3. Ko’okiri Body Plunge

2. The Incredible Hulk Coaster

1. TRANSFORMERS-3D.

What are your favourite Universal attractions?

Stay tuned for my next blog all about what I got up to at Discovery Cove, SeaWorld, Aquatica and Busch Gardens! You can also take a look at the video below of me and Gavin chatting about what I got up to on the first part of my FAM trip. 🙂

Smiles Included,

Abby

 

Is This The New Coaster Replacing Dragon Challenge?

Hey Thrill Seekers,

The news that Dragon Challenges last day would be the 4th September was met with similar feeling as when we announced that Jaws would be closing. The much loved coaster will be making way for a brand new Potter attraction but not much more information has been  released, so we’re working off crumbs.

One potential large crumb came to my attention last night when coaster specialist Dynamic Attractions tweeted this…

Now its not the article that’s the interesting part because like all of us we know nothing Jon Snow. Its the comments section that’s interesting…

Hmm an SFX Coaster, what is this strange device you speak of;

Dynamic Attractions bill the SFX Coaster as The World’s most exhilarating dark ride and state;

Combining a high thrill coaster with new track technologies, high definition storytelling visuals and state-of-the art audio effects. This attraction is filled with ‘firsts’ that will attract theme park enthusiasts from around the globe.

Dynamic Attractions did confirm that “someone” in Orlando had purchased an SFX coaster at IAAPA which does help fuel this rumour.

At first glance it does appear to have similarities to Escape from Gringotts but we’re thinking that this attraction may well have an indoor and outdoor part to it.

Universal are promising a “new generation thrill ride” so we’ll keep you posted when we learn more…

Smiles included…

Jamie