Universal Orlando drops annual Harry Potter fan fest

September 7, 2018, 10:25 PM · The Universal Orlando Resort today confirmed that it will not host its annual Celebration of Harry Potter fan fest this January, snapping what had become a five-year tradition at the resort.

Last year, Universal announced the dates and the initial line-up for the event in September, so fans were looking for confirmation of the next event. Instead, Universal issued a statement that the fan fest would not take place.

Universal Orlando Resort is working on exciting new experiences for guests to continue to celebrate The Wizarding World next year. These include the all-new thrill ride coming to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter - Hogsmeade and additional fan experiences that have yet to be announced. While our focus on these fan experiences means we will not be hosting A Celebration of Harry Potter in 2019, we and other Universal theme parks will always be looking for opportunities to host special Wizarding World experiences.

Curiously, the Celebration of Harry Potter this evening still appears as a search result on the "Events" page of the Universal Orlando website, though clicking the listing yields a "page not found" error, then a redirect to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter page.

The Celebration of Harry Potter traditionally filled the last weekend in January with in-park appearances by film cast members and behind-the-camera production leaders, as well as exhibits and cosplay galore. Universal recently redirected some of those social elements into this month's Back to Hogwarts celebration, which also is happening at Universal Studios Hollywood's Wizarding World, as well as those at Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure.

Replies (19)

September 8, 2018 at 12:00 AM

Rock the Universe will be moving to Feb 1 and 2, 2019 per this years brochure.

September 8, 2018 at 2:52 AM

You can only meet the Phelps twins so many times before it loses the appeal.

September 8, 2018 at 5:22 AM

Maybe it needs a break and re-tooling. How many times can the actors answer the same questions? Does Universal do guest surveys? Maybe the fans can offer ideas on what to include in the weekend, shame it has to go away entirely

September 8, 2018 at 6:57 AM

Ironically some TPI regulars (myself among them) have been wondering if Pottermania has run its course.

September 8, 2018 at 8:29 AM

Nice try Disney fan boy, but Pottermania will always beat Star Wars since Disney decided not to feature actual lands from Episodes 4, 5 & 6, therefore making it less interesting since all other films basically suck. While it will be a great addition, that fact does not make it a reason to plan a trip there if not already going.
The more Potter they build, the more people will come. If they add Potter to HHN, watch out!

September 8, 2018 at 10:02 AM

Maybe they will replace it with a 'Dark Universe' fan fest.


September 8, 2018 at 12:04 PM

I always thought that Potter may eventually become dated. Star Wars is more evergreen, not only because they've been churning out new movies, but because the whole world is fantasy, (a long time ago in a galaxy far far away) not like Potter which takes place in the present day. The present day, actually in the books the 1980s-1990s, eventually becomes dated.

September 8, 2018 at 2:04 PM

Harry Potter fandom is doing fine. In surveys, the second Fantastic Beasts film was named the most anticipated movie of the fall. The Harry Potter show on Broadway continues to be the most successful play in history. Excitement online for next years Potter coaster is huge. There is no evidence anywhere that love for the Wizarding World is dying out.

This event is being retired simply because it was tired and repetitive for anyone that has been in previous years.

I mean the Solo movie was the biggest bomb of the summer. Does that mean Star Wars fandom is waning? Try again everyone.

September 8, 2018 at 5:36 PM

Perhaps a Fast and Furious Fan Fest (FFFF)?

September 8, 2018 at 8:19 PM

Just a reminder that Disney World no longer does its Star Wars Weekends anymore, either. And that franchises is hardly played out.

I suspect that there's a deeper story here, though James' point resonates - a fan fest needs to stay fresh to remain relevant and reboot more toward the entire "Wizarding World," including the Fantastic Beasts prequels, and away just from "Harry Potter" might be helpful toward that.

And it would provide another supply of supporting actors to draw upon for cast appearances.

September 8, 2018 at 9:08 PM

I don't buy this "Harry Potter is not as popular" claim. USA Today listed 3 titles in the 100 best sellers of 2017 and Amazon.com had all 7 in their 2017 best sellers list. Additionally, "Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" was the overall best selling book of 2016. Proving any new content from the canon is still wildly popular. I can continue with audio books...Audible currently has all 7 books in their top 50 overall best sellers.

I think it's crazy to think Potter enthusiasm is going away anytime soon. My fellow millenials are keeping it alive and passing it on to their kids. The way it should be!

September 8, 2018 at 10:53 PM

I don't think Universal sees any issues with the Potter brand considering they're currently investing tens of millions into it. Even within this announcement they've buried the cancellation behind vague promises of future Potter investment.
I agree with Disfan's point about media franchises kind of stagnating in the era they're from, but that isn't an issue for Potter. Nearly all of Potter takes place in a complete fantasy world which is very much removed from the "muggle" timeline it shares. The movies and parks evoke medieval European fantasy elements to the point that, I'd guess, many casual fans forget they're walking through a 1990s wizarding village as opposed to a 1390s one.

September 8, 2018 at 11:09 PM

Cancellation of fan fests will build up interest at the following year. I’m sure Disney cancelled Star Wars Weekends due to Star Wars Land will open in Late 2019. Harry Potter expects more attractions and Fantastic Beasts to open soon. So expect the Phelps twins to come back in 2 years to promote another new ride and maybe Johnny Depp will have his career rescued from near death from his Pirates franchise going kaput and now he will promote his role in Fantastic Beasts at Universal theme parks.

September 9, 2018 at 12:46 AM

The event got bigger and bigger every year , it’s definitly not cancelled because of loosing popularity , lets just get excited for a new Potter Attraction 2019 and it can be opened by the Phelps Twins to keep them in a job .

September 9, 2018 at 5:12 AM

'... and additional fan experiences that have yet to be announced.'
Universal is in a habit to refresh their non regular events frequently. Where the mouse leans back in a big way with their Halloween offering Universal creates year after year high quality, highly detailed, new content park wide.
Their Christmas offerings sees constantly additions and improved experiences. Mardi Grass offers multiple new and revitalized floats every year.
The current, free, Potter fan experience was fine but not to the high quality of all the other offerings. Two years ago I was in the park at that time and observed some of the offerings and the many guests who where there clearly for the event and it put a huge smile on my face. They really enjoyed being there with like minded and I enjoyed the amazing costumes they wore. So I didn't think what was on offer was actually needed for them to have a great time. But I guess Universal takes the time to see what they can do more and better for future offerings.

September 10, 2018 at 1:02 PM

Robert's point is well made. The Wizzarding Worlds are here to stay, be they about the original novels, the Fantastic Beasts series or anything else that JK may conjure up. As to the original novels - I firmly believe it will be a generational gift from parents to children. Just like the Disney studio plan where the classic animated classics were reissued every seven years or so. The same will happen for these books. I don't have kids, but if I did, I would love to see them experience these stories in book, then on film and also in theme park form.
Anyone who says this world has no longevity has no sense of wonder and love for great storytelling.

September 11, 2018 at 3:25 PM

I actually see this as a good sign of a theme park looking out for its guests. Instead of continuing to milk guests for upcharges and an annual event that grows stale, Universal is taking it off the calendar (most likely temporarily) to allow it to be re-imagined. As trixieangel noted, you can only ask the same questions and meet the same actors so many times, particularly when traveling HP conventions are starting to gain traction against comic-cons, fantasy-cons, and sci-fi cons.

Here's a company that sees an event that maybe has plateaued, and instead of gouging guests for more and more (like some company down the street that I won't mention here), Universal is looking for a way to make it bigger and better (and likely during a better time of year when more of the core audience can enjoy it).

September 11, 2018 at 7:00 PM

With the whole "Beasts" thing and a Broadway play you have pimped on this site, why would UC lack the ability and so much IP that such an event would have to grow "stale"?


September 12, 2018 at 7:26 AM

Since Universal isn't the producer of the films or the Broadway play, they lack the clout to get actors and principles to appear for events. Also the timing makes it difficult for most of the higher profile celebrities that have other projects that typically ramp up at the start of a new year after the holidays.

It was becoming obvious after the first few events that Universal was unable to pull significant celebrities to appear in the parks to make future events fresh and interesting. Fan conventions struggle with the same issues trying to balance maintaining a familiarity for new visitors while having enough new material and celebrities for returning fans.

The same thing happened to Disney's Star Wars Weekends, which essentially turned into 3 days of standing in 2+ hour lines to "meet" the same half dozen celebrities and watch fanboys prance around in costume, which probably went on 1 or 2 years too long (and may return once Galaxy's Edge opens). Sometimes creativity takes time, and simply putting on the same event every year just to bring in that extra revenue starts to tarnish the perception of the event to the point where it loses its luster. Not only can Universal amp up the event with additional time for planning and preparation, but perhaps they will shift it to coordinate with the opening of the new attraction at IOA when HP and theme park fans will be re-energized by the boy wizard.

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