Last Tuesday Universal sent out a survey asking customers about some preferences they’d like to see for seasonal events. They ranged from Macy’s Thanks Giving Parade to Grinch Stole Christmas show.
Originally noted by the excellent Orlando Informer one of the selections that captured my imagination was the concept of a Yule Ball from the Harry Potter series.
Held in the Great Hall at Hogwarts, the Yule Ball is a tradition of the Triwizard Tournament. It is a formal dance held on Christmas night of a tournament year, and is opened by the tournament champions and their partners in the Champions Waltz.
The survey states the following;
guests wear dress robes and dine/dance at a festive holiday Yule Ball with themed music, dancing, food and beverages
So visitors would be submerged into the World of Harry Potter, with a fine dining experience plus themed entertainment. The survey seems to suggest that this idea would be a separately ticketed event similar to Halloween Horror Nights. which would make sense as Universal would have to limit the amount of guests per sitting.
As a fan of Potter I think this sounds like a great idea, remember though that this was only a survey and does not guarantee that Universal will be moving forward with it. Some of the other idea’s Universal were suggesting included;
A nighttime show at Hogwarts Castle using 3D projection, lights, and more (included with park admission).
Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade
How the Grinch Stole Christmas
Special holiday-themed Cinematic Spectacular
Holiday party in both Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley on select nights in December, including delicious holiday treats and beverages (separately ticketed event)
Glowing nighttime parade
Universal Studios Holiday parade (not Macy’s)
Immersive and festive holiday decorations at both parks
Grinch character breakfast
Special holiday performances by the Frog Choir and London Street Buskers and other holiday themed surprises in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
If the Yule Ball isn’t your thing, would any of these other ideas float your boat?
Good news, today Universal Orlando confirmed that for the third year running the highly popular “A Celebration of Harry Potter” will return. Taking place on January 29th until January 31st.
Here’s what you can expect…
Film Talent Appearances
Rupert Grint (portrayed Ron Weasley), Matthew Lewis (portrayed Neville Longbottom), Katie Leung (portrayed Cho Chang), Bonnie Wright (portrayed Ginny Weasley), and Evanna Lynch (portrayed Luna Lovegood) will all be part of the third annual event.
They’ll be participating in various parts of the event, including a Q&A for the fans. Along with the films’ stars, you can hear special panels and demonstrations from:
Pierre Brohanna, Head Prop Maker for the film franchise.
Eduardo Lima and Miraphora Mina of MinaLima, who established the visual graphic style of the films.
Paul Harris, wand combat choreographer for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
The creators and talent that have made Harry Potter: The Exhibition a global touring phenomenon.
Harry Potter Expo
Guests will also have access to the Harry Potter Expo, where you will get the chance to:
Participate in an interactive mini-tour experience from Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.
Try on the Sorting Hat and find out which house you belong in.
Interact with Pottermore, J.K Rowling’s digital behind-the-scenes masterpiece.
Share what Harry Potter means to you, color in a page from the brand-new Harry Potter coloring book, enter daily raffles and more at the Scholastic booth.
Entry into this amazing event is included within your Universal tickets purchased directly with Orlando Attraction Tickets, but activites are often on a first come first served basis.
One of our customer described it as “Lots of fun” another as “amazing” but what is it?
When Universal Orlando decided to expand the original Wizarding World of Harry Potter Hogsmeade they knew they’d have to make it bigger and better. For those of you who’ve been to the new Diagon Alley at Universal Studios you know they definitely delivered! Not only is the staging superb but they added a fire breathing dragon and a fully working Hogwarts Express!
However for me its the little things that make it such a success and that brings me back to my original questions, what is the symbol above?
What is the symbol?
Well this symbol denotes that you can use the new interactive wands here! Yep thats right Universal, the clever so and so’s, have created certain areas within both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade that will react when certain “spells” are cast.
When you purchase your interactive wand at Ollivanders (either shop) you’ll be given a map which details all the interactive spots in both Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade, make sure you use the map as there are tons of spots that you’ll miss if you just follow the crowd.
Follow the map, when you reach the interactive point (symbol above & below) take a good look at it. The symbol will tell you exactly how to cast your spell.
This particular spell is to make a feather float. You’ll notice that the symbol has words written around the edge, these are the “magic words” that you’ll need to perform, as per the books the magic words used to make things float is “Wingardium Leviosa” however you don’t just need words you’ll also need to know what to do with your wand. You’ll notice in the middle of the symbol is a strange mark, this mark is actually your instructions for what to do with your wand, a “u” movement and then a swish downwards for this spell and a flick.
While I was in Orlando our guide actually helped one of the guests to use their wand, here are his tips to casting spells.
Try not to stand in front of the symbol. either behind it or on it will see the best results.
Try smallish movements, no big over the top movements… its not what Wizards do!
Be patient, it will come, no one said being a Wizard was easy!
If you’re having issues talk to a cast member, they’ll be more than happy to help you.
Universal’s interactive wands cost approx. $47 each which might seem pretty costly however the joy and look of amazement that you see on childrens faces is totally worth the cost.
“Does it look similar?” asked the Universal tour guide, “I’ve never been to London so I can only imagine its pretty close!”
It wasn’t pretty close, it was spot on. The only difference I could see was that Universal’s Kings Cross Station was far cleaner than its UK equivalent. I’d heard it was pretty impressive but standing in front of it surrounded by my fellow Englishmen the majority of them Londoners my mouth almost hit the ground. The attention to detail really stood out, from the busker playing Sweet Child of Mine on a violin to the voice from the tannoy announcing train timetables, Universal had really done their homework.
Our tour guide was taking us for our first ride on the Hogwarts Express, we were heading from London (Diagon Alley) to Hogsmeade which meant we’d need to find Platform 9 3/4 seems tricky hey!? However Universal have thought this through as well and during the queuing experience using a very clever optical illusion you get to walk through the wall and on to Platform 9 3/4.
Universal run’s 2 Hogwarts Expresses to manage the demand, each train running in the opposite direction to the other making sure that wait times are kept to a minimum. The train itself consists of approx. 3 long carriages each section has about 3 rooms which can hold 6 people easily. Again the attention to detail in on the train is amazing right down to the material the seats are made out of.
Depending upon which was you ride the train (Hogsmeade to Diagon Alley or vice versa) determines the story you’ll be shown. I’m not going to spoil the storylines here as a lot of the ride is based around what you see. I will say though that the windows are not the only places to keep an eye out for, although the majority of the stories are depicted via the very clever tv style windows action does also take place on the train. So keep one eye on the compartment door as well.
The Hogwarts Express is an amazing idea, that has been implemented superbly. Any fan of Harry Potter is going to be blown away by this.
The Hogwarts Express requires a park to park ticket to ride. All Orlando Attraction Tickets Universal tickets include park to park privileges, so if you’ve booked with us, its all board!
We must be getting closer to a confirmed opening date for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Diagon Alley, my reasons for thinking this are, firstly the VIP media event being hosted later this month and secondly this detail heavy video released by Universal showing the Weasley Family getting a guided tour.
There’s an amazing amount of detail in this video including a running
Hogwarts Express, a look inside the train and the screens which will be used to tell the story of your journey.
The video gives us our first real look around Diagon Alley and confirmation from the actors that what we see is exactly, if not better than what they used in the films.
What the video here
All this does is wet my appetite even more… Roll on summer!
The beauty of what Universal have done with the Potter franchise is in the detail. They don’t just throw a couple of awesome attractions up they really look to immerse the visitor into the Wizarding World.
This evening we’ve received an update from Universal on some of the added extras that will make your visit to Universal Studios special. When you’ve made your way into Diagon Alley via the brick wall, take a right at Weasley’s Wizard Wheezers and head toward the bustling shopping area known as Carkitt Market. This location is where you’ll find two new live shows…
The first show is based on two stories taken from The Tales of Beedle the Bard, The fountain of fortune and the tale of the three brothers. The show uses scenic pieces, props and puppetry created by Michael Curry, Emmy award winning designer.
Check out these amazing images;
The second show is a musical performance by The Singing Sorceress: Celestina Warbeck and the Banshees, as I’m sure you know they’re a popular band in the Wizarding World. The songs sung are all titles created by J.K. Rowling and include “You stole my cauldron but can’t have my heart”, “A cauldron full of hot, strong love” and “You charmed the heart right out of me”.
On top of these awesome live shows, Universal also announced some exciting interactive features.
In the London area you’ll find the knight bus and it’s permanent residents, the shrunken head (voiced by Lenny Henry in the films) and the conductor, guests will be able to chat, joke and take photos.
You’ll also be able to exchange your hard earned dollars for some proper money at the Gringotts Money Exchange, visitors can get their hands on Wizarding Bank Notes which can be used at both universal parks, all overseen by a Gringotts Goblin.
We also hear there are more surprises yet to be revealed…
On Friday Tom Schroder, Vice President of Public Relations at Universal Orlando tweeted pictures of his lunch!!
Yep thats right, his lunch… how boring you might think… usually I’d agree but on this occasion is was a special lunch. Some might say a magical lunch! Not me though cos that would be really cheesey 😉
The reason this lunch was of interest was where he had it…
Tweeting “Can you guess what I’m getting to try for lunch today ?” accompanied by this photo;
Tom got the internet buzzing with this very old English menu, words like Diagon Alley, Wizarding and most importantly Leaky Cauldron were flying around like (dare i say it?) broomsticks in a quidditch match (I dared).
The menu looks delicious and just how you’d imagine a wizards meal to look. Hats off again to Universal who always set the bar high when it comes to attention to detail.
Tom wasn’t finished though;
For those with a sweet tooth, Tom gave us a mouthwatering look at the puddings. As one of our facebook friends put it
I gained about 4lbs just looking at that! Yum
Universal still haven’t confirmed the exact date Diagon Alley will open but we’re still guessing at an ambitious late June date.
Today thanks to screamscapes anonymous source I’m able to share with you the latest imagery of what appears to be the track for the Hogwarts Express *squeal*.
The Hogwarts Express attraction is said to connect Islands of Adventure with Universal Studios, where the London section of the Wizarding World will be located.
As Universal aren’t confirming anything at the moment (and why would they with Transformers so close to launch) we can only speculate what the Hogwarts attraction might entail.
Here at Orlando Attraction Tickets we can’t imagine that Universal will just build a bog standard train that takes you from A to B, the idea of peering out of a window looking at the backlot of Universal kind of kills the mythos, could the attraction incorporate a 3D experience within the train? Original cast members did recently shoot additional scenes specifically for the Wizarding World could they have been filming a Hogwarts Express scene?
This story will run and run until we get something concrete from Universal but until then imagining the end product is so much fun!
Q: How much money does Harry Potter make Universal Orlando?
A: Well some of this question was answered on Friday when Universal Orlando released its quarter 3 results, and what cracking results they are as well, showing that the popularity of Mr Potter was well worth the Universal outlay.
Attendance increased by 36% for the three months ending Sept. 26 to 3.7 million people over the same period last year! and even more importantly visitors to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter couldn’t get enough of wands, broomsticks and butterbeer, as the company stated revenue was up 62% to $364 million. Operating profit more than doubled to $127 million and net profit rocketed to $97 million, a 162% increase.
Plus on Oprah recently JK Rowling spoke the words that Harry Potter fans and Universal Orlando alike had been waiting for… she might not be quite done with the series!!!…. $$$$$