A Celebration of Harry Potter 2017: Day 3!

Jan 29, 2017

Posted by: Dawn Johnson

Actor Interviews, Celebration of Harry Potter, Coltrane, Contests, Davis, Davis Interviews, Events, Fandom, Fans, Fantastic Beasts, Fantastic Beasts Movie, Felton, Felton Interviews, Films, Grint, Harris, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, HP Cast, Interviews, Isaacs, Isaacs Interviews, Lewis, Lewis Interviews, Movies, News, Pottermore, Props-Sets, Radcliffe, Theme Park, Warner Bros., Watson

The second day of A Celebration of Harry Potter was an eventful one, with guests attending a Q&A panel, participating in numerous exciting giveaways and contests, and plenty of magical sights, and secrets, for the O.W.L and N.E.W.T.-level–witch or wizard to find!

It ended with a fantastic program, covered by Leaky, featuring a message from the Cursed Child cast and a sneak peak at the special features included on the upcoming Blu-Ray release of Fantastic Beasts. The four guest actors closed out the night and left fans anxious for the third and final day of this amazing weekend event.

Today started off on the dreary side, but that didn’t stop eager fans. It was a wands-up occasion, and since when did a good witch or wizard ever turn down the opportunity to show off with a bit of magic?

Enthusiasm stayed high as fans anticipated a global tweet-along of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 hosted by Harry Potter Film. (Who didn’t want to immediately pop in the full-length version then and there?) 

Tweets followed calling fans to remember iconic scenes from the films, and it was almost too much!

But let’s get to it. So much sentimental ground to cover and so many people and places to revisit.

  A very different scene from when Harry first visited Gringotts … Who told him he’d be ‘..mad to try and rob it?’ #HPCelebration

Yes, always. The tweets then departed from the beloved characters and got right to the climax of the Deathly Hallows story–the battle. (Look who showed up!)

It was a day not to be forgotten, then or now. And then, (sniff), the epilogue.

It was an epic journey down memory lane, and one of the best things about the A Celebration of Harry Potter event is that it provides fans with a literal trip down that lane. Every booth, show, and experience is not to be missed!

The Scholastic booth welcomed even the tiniest of wizards to stop by. (Oh, the cuteness!)

All muggles and no-maj were welcome, too.

Cosplayers could also be seen all over the park. We spotted Dobby, Dumbledore, Bellatrix, and Arthur and Molly Weasley! (Who did you see?)

Cursed Child also had a booth, where guests were encouraged to show house pride.

MinaLima was back with more amazing creations!

They also participated in a panel and live-tweeted throughout the event.

Their insight into what it takes to be successful and effective designers was a revelation. But inspiration doesn’t come from head knowledge alone, it also comes from visualizing–seeing that knowledge applied. To do that, guests could head over to Stages 21 and 33 to see some of that design creativity realized.

Visitors saw authentic props and costumes from the films, as well as the Fan Mosaic, at sound stage 21. What an amazing feat!

And if they ‘follow the spiders’ to soundstage 33, they’re in for a creepy crawly treat!

And here’s a ‘fantastic’ recap of the many exhibits featured above for those who missed it!  

In addition to the booths and activities,Universal also continued posting exciting giveaways throughout the day, so fans were constantly prepped for each contest announcement. (The ability to apparate would have come in quite handy, there. Time for a tutorial, Professor Flitwick?)

First up, Universal offered more interactive wands to the lucky fan who arrived on location first.

Guests also had the chance to win their very own Gryffindor house robe!

Mid-afternoon, fans also had the one-of-a-kind opportunity to participate in a wand-combat demonstration led by Paul Harris, who worked with the cast on the Potter films.

Harris instructed participants on proper defensive spells and positioning, and about 200 people joined the exhibition.

It’s a good thing Harris’ master-class in Defense Against the Dark Arts prepared them so well, because Death Eaters attacked mid-way through the event, forcing these apprentice wizards into battle!

   For those of you at home, here’s the combat lesson so you can practice as well.

Those who survived the battle were able to attend a Creature Effects panel chaired by Nick Dudman and Warwick Davis. (He’s all over the place–and quite the ham!)

The panel covered many of the effects used in the making of the Harry Potter films. They detailed how Griphook’s prosthetic was made, including the side-note that it took four long hours for Davis to prepare for his scenes. They also divulged that the Goblins without close-ups got to wear pull-on masks. (Perhaps the only time in the history of film-making that an actor would wish for a non-starring role!)

Dudman also let guests in on the secret of Hagrid’s eight-foot stature. The film-makers turned Robbie Coltrane into a giant by scaling down his hut. Whenever he shot scenes with the trio, items around him would be smaller replicas of those visible in scene with the Dan, Rupert, and Emma. They also created a silicone dummy of Dan, smaller than his actual size, for Coltrane to carry after the battle in order to maintain the effect of Hagrid’s size.

His prized pet, Buckbeak, was electronic, but covered in real feathers to create the most authentic look possible. The mechanical hippogriff was so well constructed that it could actually catch a ferret when tossed. (That’s not a CGI effect, Potter fans! Also, not a live ferret.)

The same meticulous approach was applied to the creation of Aragog, an 18-foot sculpture painstakingly covered by hairs one at a time. The final product weighed 2.5 tons! Dudman added that Dan and Rupert “freaked out” the first time they encountered it on set during the filming of Chamber of Secrets. (Rupert really is scared of spiders!)

Less scary, but no less carefully-made, was the phoenix, Fawkes. It was a puppet hand-operated by 10 crew members. They revealed the result was so life-like that Richard Harris (Dumbledore) mistook it for a real trained bird. Watch the Creature Effects panel here!

Universal then closed out the A Celebration of Harry Potter event with one final panel, another Q&A session with Warwick Davis, Matthew Lewis, Jason Isaacs, and Tom Felton. Some devoted fans had camped out since 10 a.m. in order to snag a prime view of the stage!

The cast made time for serious reflection, as well as a little goofing around. There’s really no better way to end an incredible event of this magnitude than with some levity. (Wingardium Leviosa, anyone?)

Uh oh! It’s a @WarwickADavis vs. @Mattdavelewis face-off! #HPCelebrationpic.twitter.com/lvsNPGFFHn

Joking aside, after the actors were introduced for the last time, the panel moderator dove right into questions from the audience. First, the actors were asked to share their most embarrassing moment from filming. Tom Felton admitted he forgot one of his lines in Chamber of Secrets and, after five takes, broke down in tears! (That’s a whole different side of Malfoy, is it not?) Davis said that Flitwick’s dentures flew out while crowd surfing at the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire. And Isaacs acknowledged that he, like Richard Harris, thought Fawkes was real.

Next, they were asked what makes them, personally, fans of Harry Potter. The actors gave a volley of reasons ranging from escapism to fostering faith in yourself to the knowledge that love and kindness conquers evil.

Felton was asked how he transformed into such a mean character (Malfoy) when it clearly wasn’t his true personality. He said that he managed it by venting the natural frustration he often felt as the youngest of four boys. Other revelations about Felton, Isaacs, and their Malfoy alter-egos came out. Felton said that as a young actor it was difficult to be with a man as kind as Isaacs and then deal with his startling cruelty when they cut back to filming.

The actors were also asked to select their favorite female character, and Isaacs insisted that Hermione Granger is the strongest character in the whole series. (No surprise there, as she’s modeled after Jo!) They also had to pick their favorite line from all eight movies. Felton’s is, “My father will hear about this!” and Matthew Lewis has a soft spot for “Why is it always me?”

Lewis also revealed that he and Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) rehearsed a tango scene for four weeks that was never filmed. In other might-have-been news, Isaacs divulged that Helena Bonham Carter was originally set to play Narcissa with Helen McCrory portraying Bellatrix.

The four were then asked if they’d squirreled any memorabilia away from the set. Davis said he has pieces of his Goblin noses and Flitwick’s forehead, and Isaacs added that he tried take a Daily Prophet home but security stopped him and asked him to return it!

Finally, they all admitted to being star-struck at one time or another by fellow cast members and shared those stories with the audience. It’s hard to imagine them being star-struck, given that’s how every guest felt about them, but it’s nice to know that they can relate. On that note, a toast to all involved in making this a spectacular event! Thank you to the talent who attended and to Universal for hosting.

And thanks to the fans who make this the best fandom in the world!

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.