Guide to A Celebration of Harry Potter

A Celebration of Harry Potter is an amazing three-day event hosted by Universal Studios. You can join in the activities with your annual pass or purchase a two-park pass. This weekend is filled with Harry Potter fans and it is tons of fun.  Here are some things to do during A Celebration of Harry Potter.

A Guide to the Celebration of Harry Potter

Scavenger Hunt

A new item this year is that Universal is hosting a photo scavenger hunt . There are eight prompts and you can post them to social media with the #HPCelebration. It says to print out the scavenger hunt clues but it may be better to just screenshot it so you don’t waste paper.


The Expo is my favorite part of the Celebration of Harry Potter. The five vendors set up areas in the Expo with fun things to do, giveaways and great photo ops. Universal also sets up a mini store with items exclusive to this event.

A Guide to the Celebration of Harry Potter
Great photo op and my funny face with Buckbeak in 2015.

Harry Potter the Exhibition hosts a sorting hat usually set up outside the Expo. I have never done the sorting hat because the line is always way too long. I usually have to work Friday though so I would guess Friday morning or Sunday evening would be your best bet. The Exhibition will also have a photo spot inside including an exclusive Quidditch inspired photo opportunity. It’s going to work perfectly with my new Quidditch robes!!

The WB Studio London Tour is bringing an interactive mini-tour experience. I’m excited to see what this is all about! Last year, they had a replica of the Great Hall that was WONDERFUL for cosplay pictures.

Pottermore‘s booth is always fun. Last year you could make a moving picture! Their blog released the following info for this year “If you’re coming along to the Celebration in person, be sure to pop down to the Pottermore booth with the free augmented reality app Blippar* downloaded to your smartphone or tablet. You never know what you might find…” So be sure to download that app before you arrive! Universal Studios Orlando offers free wifi for guests but during busy days, it is extremely slow.  Save yourself time and frustration by having that ready on your phone before arrival.

Minalima are the awesome Graphic Designers from the films that come to this event every year. You can buy prints and stationary at their booth as well as get photos or autographs with them if they are there.  They also usually have a free button they hand out! They are currently in production on the new feature film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. I am crossing my fingers that they will have something on display from the new movie.

Scholastic has a wall where you can leave a message about what Harry Potter means to you. Take some time to read what people wrote and add something yourself. It’s a great way to experience how much the Harry Potter series means to everyone.  It looks like scholastic is also promoting the Harry Potter coloring books this year and you will be able to color in a page while you are at the Expo. They will also have daily raffles you can enter.

A Guide to the Celebration of Harry Potter


Panels are set up in two different locations this year. Toon Lagoon Amphitheater over in Islands of Adventure and the Music Plaza Stage in Universal Studios.  To get to Toon Lagoon, head left and go through the Marvel Superhero area. The theater is after Spiderman on the left. Depending on how they form the line, there could be people waiting in line in the superhero area. So if you see a line with Harry Potter people, ask what it is for.

A Guide to the Celebration of Harry Potter
Toon Lagoon Amphitheater Stage


The Music Plaza Stage is straight ahead from the Studios entrance and is the large grassy area on the left. No lines for this area! Just choose a spot that is open. The front area is usually reserved for the package people.


A Guide to the Celebration of Harry Potter
Music Plaza Stage Movie in the Park


Now you are ready. Grab your best cosplay and let’s plan what to do.  They change things a little every year but I can still give you my guess on the best way to approach the weekend.


I suggest going to the Expo on Friday, the lines are way shorter then the weekend! They tend to give out some free items and coming early Friday will give you the best bet of getting those items.  It is located in Universal Studios; to get there you will walk straight from the entrance, back past the Music Plaza Stage and keep going until you can’t go straight anymore. This is where Soundstage 33 is located. You will see a sign and some cast members to make sure you get in the correct line.

A Guide to the Celebration of Harry Potter

Before you leave you will want to pick up any of the Celebration of Harry Potter specific merchandise that you are interested in. The pins and shirts that have the HP Celebration name and date on it. Last year the pins sold out Saturday morning at Universal Studios and Sunday afternoon at Islands of Adventure (admittedly because no one was going over there since almost all of the events in 2015 were located at Universal Studios.) If you want one, snag one while you can!

Once you can convince yourself to leave the Expo, head to the Music Plaza.  There they will have a Movie in the Park where you can watch a Harry Potter movie with other fans. Last year it was Sorcerer’s Stone. Most of us have seen this movie a million times so be prepared for everyone to recite the lines from the movie and to be chatting. You may want to grab dinner quickly and come back there to save your spot for the Opening Ceremony if you want to sit up close. Grab your robes and your house scarf as it will probably be cold.

A Guide to the Celebration of Harry Potter
Music Plaza Stage during opening ceremonies.


Make note that even though they say the Expo closes at 6:00 on Sunday, they sometimes close the line earlier to make sure they actually close at that time.


If you don’t have kids (and are skipping all the kid’s panel like me), head to Islands of Adventure and get in line for the first panel. I would say get there around 10:00 AM, earlier if you want seats up close. There are adult panels going on at Toon Lagoon till 3:45. So if you plan on doing all the panels both days, get in line for the next one as soon as the one you are in is done.  If not, pick two panels to attend on Saturday and the other two you can attend on Sunday. I’m planning to attend Global Impact & Graphic Design on Saturday and Sunday attend the Prop Showcase & Bringing the Films to WW.

If you do want to attend the kids panels, I would maybe suggest doing all the adult panels at IoA on Saturday and then do all the kid’s panels at Studios on Sunday or vice versa. Going back and forth between parks will be a waste of both time and energy.

They are only giving you 30 mins to get from the Prop Showcase in IoA to the Stage at Universal for the Q & A. The Q & A’s are always the most popular because of the stars.  I would suggest skipping the Prop Showcase panel (there is another one Sunday) and heading over to the Universal side. I suggest walking from park to park. I imagine the Train will have long waits all weekend because of the use of both parks for panels.

The rest of the events are at the Music Stage so you should be good to hang out in the Plaza for the rest of the day.


Hit those two panels you missed on Saturday today and head back to the Expo at the end of the day. The word is the crowd dies down Sunday night so it is the best time to go.

Overall just make sure you have fun! If you get tired, take a break. It’s good to have a schedule but don’t worry about not sticking to it exactly. Be sure to talk to other fans while waiting in line.  You can meet all sorts of fun people during the Harry Potter Celebration. Keep and eye out for the Central Florida Slug Club‘s bright yellow flag and come say hi to Heather and I if you see us.

Here is my schedule to give you an idea of how you should plan.

Friday Music Plaza Stage Toon Lagoon Soundstage
9:00-6:00 Expo
1:30-4:30 Movie in the Park
7:30-8:00 Opening Ceremonies
Saturday Music Plaza Stage Toon Lagoon Soundstage
9:00 -4:30 Expo
1:00-1:30 Global Impact of HP
2:00-2:30 Graphic Design
4:15 – 5:00 Q & A Session
5:30-6:00 House Rally
6:45-7:45 Film Tribute
Sunday Music Plaza Stage Toon Lagoon Soundstage
9:00-6:00 Expo
11:00-11:45 Prop Showcase
1:00-1:30 Bringing the films to WW
2:00-2:15 Kid’s Film Trivia
2:45-3:15 Kid’s Dancing
4:00-4:45 Q & A Session

Let me know in the comments if you have any questions!

Melissa P.

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