Orlando parks have a marketing ploy: If it’s a slow season, schedule a weekend celebration. In this case, the weekend targets Harry Potter fans as Universal Orlando announces its first-ever “Celebration of The Harry Potter Films” Nov. 11-13, 2011.
With that nod to the marketing gurus out of the way, it’s a phenomenal weekend for fans of the boy wizard with the forehead lightning scar. Ground zero for the celebration, obviously, is The Wizarding World of Harry Potter section of Universal’s Islands of Adventure, but specialty weekends always include movie stars – usually somewhat minor – from the films. Universal has not yet announced the stars’ names, but it has confirmed that the book series author, J.K. Rowling, will not attend.
All eight Harry Potter films will be shown in Universal CityWalk’s theater, though with close to 18 hours of movies to attend, there won’t be much weekend left.
The downside to the festivities? You must buy a hotel package, at least for now. Universal says it will have “additional ways for a limited number of people to participate in celebration events” eventually; but sales open July 31, 2011, for the hotel packages. Universal will probably decide on the number of “additional ways” guests can enjoy events after it sees how those packages are selling.
Two packages – the Celebration Package and the Premier Package – have many things in common, including:
- Four nights at a “Universal Partner Hotel,” which is code for “the least-expensive ones aren’t on Universal property.” The low “packages start at…” prices for each one feature the Quality Inn International Drive, a budget hotel located nearby but beyond walking distance.
- Three-day park passes that include both Universal Orlando theme parks, Universal Studios, and Islands of Adventure.
- 12-day pass to CityWalk venues
- Early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
- One session with some cast members from the Harry Potter films, which will be in a question and answer format. Multiple sessions will be scheduled, but only one can be reserved with a package.
- A commemorative pin.
- A complete Blu-Ray set of all Harry Potter movies
The Celebration Package, which includes everything mentioned, starts at $369 per adult based on double occupancy.
The Premier Package starts at $699 per adult based on double occupancy, and while that low price includes the same budget hotel as the Celebration Package, guests paying more also get:
- A ticket to a “Nighttime Gala Event” that includes entertainment and a second chance to see cast members from the Harry Potter films.
- In addition to the question-and-answer session, Premier guests also get an autograph session.
- Breakfast at Three Broomsticks, the restaurant inside Wizarding World of Harry Potter.
Want more info? Visit Universal’s dedicated webpage for “Celebration of The Harry Potter Films”
If this is a success – and it probably will be – Universal will likely schedule it every year.