Universal Orlando gets social with new Harry Potter special event

August 24, 2018, 12:15 PM · It's back to school time, which typically means it's time to close shop or scale back at the nation's theme parks. But when your park is home to the most famous school in the world, September is something to celebrate.

The Universal Orlando Resort is honoring the back-to-school season with a month-long Back to Hogwarts event in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Islands of Adventure and Universal Studios Florida. Universal will kick off the event with a social media meet-up on September 1, with sign-up instructions to be announced soon. (Update: Registration opens tomorrow at 8am ET. It'll fill before 8:01, if past meet-ups provide any guide.)

Back to Hogwarts isn't a typical theme park special event, in that it isn't focused on the special food, merchandise, or entertainment that parks usually roll out for such things. Instead, the event seems more focused on social elements designed to bring Harry Potter fans together. Which fits, when you think about it. Because, wasn't the highlight of going back to school getting to see your friends again, and to meet new ones?

Each Friday during the event, Universal has scheduled a group photo opportunity, when fans are encouraged to cosplay and meet other fans at a designated time and place.

Universal already is the most encouraging of all-ages cosplay among the major theme parks, given that is sells house robes, wands, and other wizarding gear in its Harry Potter lands. But for this event, Universal is encouraging all-out costume wear in the Wizarding World during the month, provided you stick within the resort's costume guidelines, which boil down to no masks, no weapons, you've got to be able to fit through a metal detector, don't pretend to be a Universal team member, and if you want to buy alcohol, don't make-up your face so much that you no longer look like your ID.

Wizarding World coplayers

If Back to Hogwarts whets your appetite for more interaction with fellow Harry Potter fans, Universal holds a three-day Celebration of Harry Potter on the final weekend of January. More details about the 2019 event are expected soon.

Replies (23)

August 24, 2018 at 4:44 PM

Just milking the hell out of the HPIP ... May as well make hay while the ever dimming sun shines ... Is there really a substantial number of kids born after 1995 who have any interest in investing themselves into the Potter universe?

August 24, 2018 at 5:38 PM

Um... yes.

August 24, 2018 at 8:05 PM

Yeah, in regards to the "making hay" thing and general interest levels...when we were last in Florida, from our group of 2 families, 2 adults in their late 30's and 3 children, ages 7, 15 and 17 went to Universal for the HP experience. 3 of them came back with high-end "wands" as souvenirs and the adults were adults when the movies came out and the kids weren't yet here when the movies were out. Not one of them fell into that average age group of younger folks who went to the movies as kids or teens yet they were still enthralled. Out of the group, only 1 adult could be considered a "fan-fan" and possibly along with her 7 year old daughter. Yet all of them returned after opening and closing the park that day, and all proclaimed an amazing day.

Point being, there's obviously much money to still be made in them thar hills for generations. As for me, I can't stand Harry Potter or Muggles, but I was apparently in the minority as even those that didn't go lamented missing the opportunity.

God Bless.

August 25, 2018 at 8:01 AM

TH Creative is a real sourpuss.
This is a fun event that doesn't cost anything extra and gives the fans a great opportunity to meet new people and have fun without getting nickle and dimed.

August 25, 2018 at 8:35 AM

I am sure the event is top notch. Probably a must do for Potter fans. Never said otherwise.

August 25, 2018 at 10:15 AM

My kids were born in 2010 and they love Potter - They have no idea about Avatar though.
Snow White coaster still a massive draw at the mouse house and there can’t be many people still alive that remember that film being released!

August 25, 2018 at 11:32 AM

The wand is a weapon. They should teach magic classes for the back to school event and how to pronounce spells. They should give away thick School class books where the picture can be placed.

August 25, 2018 at 1:38 PM

I wished I lived. In Florida as this seems like a fun event for fans.
I don’t really see this as milking as opposed to a Disney who will sell a hard ticket to a half finished land. I’m expecting one for the new parking garage at Disneyland too at this point for $200.

August 25, 2018 at 2:23 PM

What Robert said. I wasn't born after 1995. I was born in 1951 and my wife in 1955, so we don't fit the mold of the usual HP fan. We had been to USF a couple of times in the early 80's and have been an annual visitor to WDW since the early 80's. This changed several years ago after our first visit to USF to see HP. We are now an annual visitor to USF. We have been to WDW once since we discovered USF HP, and that was an extended trip where we went primarily to see USF and extended our stay for a few days to visit WDW. We have no emotional connection to Frozen, Pandora, Toy Story, or the newer Star Wars. We will probably go see them once but they will not become an annual trip. Now if someone would build a land based on GOT we would be in heaven.

August 25, 2018 at 3:28 PM

I would bet anyday that Harry Potter, Hermione and Ron are more popular then Rey, Fynn and Kylo Ren.

August 26, 2018 at 7:35 AM

Allow me to explain. The Potter franchise was considered a phenomenon because millions of kids and adults were picking up books and reading. What I am asking is if the millions of Potter fans who gobbled up the books are being sustained by a new generation. The millions of 14 year olds who picked up ‘Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone’ in 1997 are now 35 years old. Is there another generation of 14 year olds who are now discovering the Potter books and are willing to crawl through seven volumes of literature?

Regarding Daniel Galvan’s comments comparing Potter to Star Wars, my question is actually rooted in a comparison between Potter and the Disney Princesses. Today, around the world, thousands of children are being born. And (I dare say) a majority of them will latch onto the dream of being a princess. And tomorrow more will be born. And the day after even more. That sustained generational consideration has an inherency (in numbers) that the Potter universe may not enjoy.

August 26, 2018 at 7:44 AM

And (while we are on the subject) take note of the age of the people in the photo that accompanies this thread. There is not a child among them.

August 26, 2018 at 7:45 AM

TH: Why are you comparing Harry Potter to Disney Princesses? That makes no sense. It’s desperation especially since Star Wars has shown a weak spot with the failure of Solo as a direct result from The Last Jedi’s backlash. The Harry Potter franchise is strong since it is well made and consistently made. No deviation from canon unlike Star Wars. Disney Princesses have it’s own separate market that cater to girls under 12, but many kids under 8 already outgrew them.

August 26, 2018 at 8:59 AM

Anton M writes: "TH: Why are you comparing Harry Potter to Disney Princesses?"

I Respond: Because every day thousands and thousands of little girls are born. And a sizable portion of them will identify with and fall in love with the idea of being a princess. This is why the Disney Princesses are a multi-billion dollar franchise. I don't think the same can be said about Potter. I don't think Potter sustains the same condition. I don't think that a new generation will discover Potter the same way.

August 26, 2018 at 11:06 AM

Boys and girls are born to love Harry Potter so it isn’t different. And I already said girls outgrow Princesses by 8 years old.

Boys and Girls > Girls under 8 years old.

August 26, 2018 at 11:41 AM

Anton M writes: "Boys and girls are born to love Harry Potter so it isn’t different."

I Respond: And why are there no children in the photo at the top of this thread ... As in not even one.

August 26, 2018 at 1:48 PM

TH CREATIVE, I have a son who is entering 7th grade. He read the series in 3rd grade, as his teacher's suggestion. This past spring, a friend & I were helping at his school, both of us in Harry Potter related shirts. The 2 grades at his school then were 5th and 6th, so 10-12 year old. Kids were so excited about our shirts! The kids told us their houses, we talked trivia, it was fantastic to see a new generation of Potter fans.

August 26, 2018 at 3:51 PM

They are boys and girls of all ages. This is why Harry Potter has the advantage at least while Disney isn’t trying to ruin Star Wars by alienating it’s fans.

August 26, 2018 at 8:14 PM

Wow! I believe little girls and boys that are born will want to be prince/princess, super hero's (even in Star Wars), and some may want to wizards. I am thankful for both Disney and Universal Studios for giving us the opportunity to live out our fantasies during our vacations and to share them with the next generation. My granddaughter is at awe of being a princess and a wizard, so she can be whatever she wants. Thank you both Disney and Universal Studios. And why children my not be present might (big might) is because they need an adults approval before taking a picture.

August 27, 2018 at 9:04 AM

"And why are there no children in the photo at the top of this thread ... As in not even one."

Because Universal is clearly not targeting kids with this promotion. The meetup times (mid afternoon) would be impossible for kids to attend without skipping real school, so it's clear that the park is just trying to get some more adults to show up in the middle of the day.

August 27, 2018 at 1:39 PM

TH Creative, I get the point you're trying to make, but the good news about books is, if they are as loved as the Potter series has proven to be, they will stand the test of time. The Hobbit was written in 1937 and the subsequent Lord of the Rings books in the late 1930s and into the 1940s. My children (youngest born in 2003) LOVE those books and would happily cosplay as elves. You don't have to love Potter. But there are hundreds of millions of readers around the globe who will continue to show up for special events like this one. Find another bone to pick. This one just makes you sound curmudgeonly.
Ps. Most cosplayers are self-expressed adults. It's a thing.

August 27, 2018 at 2:44 PM

Some men with TH in their name just should put on their princess dress and Mickey ears and try to have some fun in their life.

August 27, 2018 at 5:25 PM

TH writes: "And why are there no children in the photo at the top of this thread"

I Respond: There is a child in the photo, they are cropped out of the shot in this article but if you click the link "Back to Hogwarts" above you will see the press release and you will see the child in the full picture.

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