‘Wizarding World’ Orlando Harry Potter Fan Gathering: 19-21 January 2016

It has happened at last.

f193170470The Orlando theme park, ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter,’ after being the site for and main attraction for HPEF and Leaky/Geeky Con fandom gatherings since 2010, has gone into the business of throwing conferences themselves. Seeing the push for hotel reservations in the ‘Vacation Packages’ that go on sale next week — read all about those here —  I’d guess that Geeky’s decision not to use the Universal Park hotels and their conference facilities in Orlando but the city’s convention center a short distance from the park inspired this move. They have a lot of hotel rooms to fill, and with the park as a magnet, why not throw a party? A party they can throw twice a year to huge crowds?

Which is not to mention the Hungarian Horntail in the Common Room: the new Universal Theme Park in Hollywood which opens in ‘Spring 2016’ and at which Leaky Con (the Harry Potter focused Geeky Con) is holding its big tent get-together next year. Time for Universal Orlando to create some new MoJo for the old park before the Snowbirds head west to the new 3-D experience rides…

f39159526If you check out the video below, you’ll note that it isn’t an academic conference in any sense of the word or even about the books. Like the two parks and the exposition hall, ‘The Wizarding World’ is all about the world as interpreted by Warner Brothers, with stars from the films (Michael Gambon! James and Oliver Phelps!) and nothing about the imaginative experience of the books that the parks so brilliantly displace.

f39159206Let’s be clear, though, about one thing. I’ve been to Orlando four times to give talks as a Featured Speaker at HPEF and Leaky Con gatherings. I am the only speaker I know of — please do let me know if this is no longer the case! — to have been invited to give a talk about the books inside Wizarding World (in ‘The Three Broomsticks,’ believe it or not). The park is a lot of fun and just being around hundreds of very serious Harry Potter fans, readers and film lovers, is an experience to have at least once.

And, if you have a choice, choose to do it in January rather than July. Just sayin.’

Here’s the video from this summer’s conference for a taste of what January’s gathering will be like:

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