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  • Disneyland's Diamond CelebrationDisneyland announces a new night-time entertainment line-up for its 60th anniversary
  • Where Do You Buy Discount Theme Park Tickets?You can find deals, if you know where to look. Here's where to start
  • Walt Disney World's Top Theme Park RestaurantsOur readers rate the best table service restaurants in the parks
  • The Wizarding World of Harry PotterRead our complete guide to Universal's Harry Potter theme park lands
Disneyland's Diamond Celebration Where Do You Buy Discount Theme Park Tickets? Walt Disney World's Top Theme Park Restaurants The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Robert Niles

Vote of the Week: Football or Theme Parks?

Published: January 30, 2015 at 12:21 PM

It's almost Super Bowl Sunday in the United States, when the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks this year will play for the National Football League championship. Among theme park fans, Super Bowl Sunday used to be "go to Disneyland Sunday," as thinking was that so many people would be watching the big game that the park would be relatively empty for the rest of us.

That hasn't been the case in years, though. Huge numbers of local annual passholders typically crowd the park on Sundays, when fewer passes are blocked out than on Saturdays. The lack of an NFL team in the Los Angeles area for a generation has helped make going to Disneyland on a Sunday more of a local tradition than going to a pro football game, and Super Bowl Sunday is no exception.

In Orlando, crowds typically have been relatively light on Super Bowl Sunday, but that probably has more to do with the day not being part of any school holiday week or weekend, which always hold down attendance in the tourist-dependent Orlando-area theme parks.

Aaron Rogers and Mickey Mouse
No matter what happens on Sunday, after the game, the most valuable player is going to Disney World.

Over the years, the parks in Central Florida have started programming more and more special events during the non-holiday weeks between New Year's and the start of summer, in an effort to boost attendance among locals and those who don't have kids in school. Up until recently, the parks haven't tried very hard to compete with Super Bowl Sunday, but now even this weekend isn't spared. Universal Orlando is hosting a big "Celebration of Harry Potter" event this weekend as counter-programming for the big game. (Update: While Universal Orlando tries to compete, Universal Studios Hollywood is playing along. The California park just announced that it will run a national commercial during the Super Bowl pre-game for its new "Fast & Furious" Studio Tour encounter. The Super Bowl airs this year on NBC, which is owned by Universal's parent company.)

Theme parks often support their local pro sports franchises when they're playing for a championship. But Seattle doesn't have any major parks, and all the parks in New England are closed for the season this time of year. The only theme parks in the United States open on Super Bowl Sunday are in Southern California and Central Florida, and neither Los Angeles nor Orlando have NFL teams. (Maybe parks would get on board with promoting the game if the San Diego or Tampa teams were playing, as they have in the past, but it's been a while since either franchise made it to Super Bowl.)

The NFL also has been battling public backlash against domestic violence by players, a concussion epidemic that's shortened the lives of many league veterans, and lingering public distaste with the use of taxpayer money for stadiums. Still, the Super Bowl sets television ratings records more times than not in recent years, and the NFL remains the most popular sport in America.

So what will you be doing on Sunday? Will you be watching the game, or will you be going to a theme park? Given that many of you don't live in a city with an open park this time of year, let's ask instead which you would rather be doing this weekend, instead.

There's no wrong answer here. We'd just love to hear about any special or notable plans that you have for this weekend. Whether you're going to the park or watching the game, we hope you have a great weekend, and thank you for spending any part of it with us here on Theme Park Insider!

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Robert Niles

Universal Orlando's Harry Potter Weekend Gets Underway as 'Hagrid' is Hospitalized

Published: January 30, 2015 at 9:24 AM

Universal Orlando's "Celebration of Harry Potter" weekend is set to get underway today, but one of the featured stars might not be there.

Actor Robby Coltrane was taken to an Orlando-area hospital after falling ill on his flight from London to Orlando, according to news reports. Coltrane played Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter films and has been a frequent guest at Universal Orlando's Wizarding World of Harry Potter press events.

Robbie Coltrane
Robbie Coltrane, center, with Domhnall Gleeson, left, and Warwick Davis, at the opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Diagon Alley last June.

Coltrane was scheduled to be among the Potter stars featured at the weekend's event, which also was scheduled to welcome Michael Gambon (Albus Dumbledore), Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood), and James Phelps and Oliver Phelps (the Weasley twins).

Coltrane was to be kept overnight at the hospital for observation. No word yet on when he will be released or if he will appear at the event. (Update: Coltrane was not at the event's opening today.)

If you're not able to make it to Universal Orlando for the weekend, the resort is live-streaming this afternoon's opening event:

Coverage from last year's Celebration of Harry Potter weekend:

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Robert Niles

Disneyland Plays to Locals for its Diamond Celebration

Published: January 29, 2015 at 10:50 AM

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Robert Niles

Disneyland Announces New Parade, Fireworks, World of Color for its 60th Anniversary

Published: January 28, 2015 at 9:30 PM

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Robert Niles

Where Do You Buy Discount Theme Park Tickets?

Published: January 27, 2015 at 9:22 PM

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Robert Niles

Weekly Top 10: The Best Restaurants at Walt Disney World

Published: January 26, 2015 at 10:35 AM

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Robert Niles

What Should Disney Do about the Measles Outbreak?

Published: January 25, 2015 at 9:32 PM

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Robert Niles

Vote of the Week: Do You Buy the No-Expiration Option on Disney World Tickets?

Published: January 23, 2015 at 8:42 PM

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