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Harry Potter fans descend on Universal Orlando for a weekend of wizarding featuring Ron Weasley and Dumbledore's Army

Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), Katie Leung (Cho Chang, and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) sit for a media Q&A Friday night at Universal Orlando's A Celebration of Harry Potter weekend. The theme park event and expo runs through Sunday.

Robbyn Mitchell/Times

Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch), Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), Katie Leung (Cho Chang, and Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright) sit for a media Q&A Friday night at Universal Orlando's A Celebration of Harry Potter weekend. The theme park event and expo runs through Sunday.

30

January

There's not much new at this year's A Celebration of Harry Potter weekend at Universal Studios Orlando.

Organizers spent the third year fine tuning the three-day fan expo and drawing big name talent from the films to the theme park.

Ron Weasley (Rupert Grint), Ginny Weasley (Bonnie Wright), Neville Longbottom (Matthew Lewis), Luna Lovegood (Evanna Lynch) and Katie Leung (Cho Chang) will take part in Q&A panels at Universal Studio's Music Plaza stage at 4:15 p.m. today and 4 p.m. Sunday-- and boy do they have some stories to tell. 

"I took the new Pottermore quiz and I got Gryffindor again," said Lynch, who is attending the three-day celebration for the third time. 

"I got Hufflepuff. I kind of want a recount, I think," laughed Grint. 

The Hogwarts alums have the easy rapport of former schoolmates -- taking simple questions of fun turns with their banter.

"There was a scene we filmed in the room of requirement and Rupert got the giggles and everyone just started laughing," Lynch recalled. "We were all having a blast and crew was so angry. The walls were all mirrored so we'd settle down and then you'd see in the mirror his shoulders would start moving and it would start again."

It wasn't the only time he disrupted filming.

"I had a line where I was threatening Draco or someone in the common room and I was supposed to say, 'You're going to get a fist full of Weasley.' We lost a whole day. The line had to go. I'm so sorry," Grint explained. 

"It was a good line," quipped Lewis. 

At Friday night's opening event, Lewis and Lynch got the pleasure of breaking some news to the Potter fandamonium. Lewis told the cloaked and wanded crowd that the traveling Harry Potter Exhibition filled with props and costumes and information on the making of the films will head to Brussels, Belgium for Summer 2016. 

Lynch, who started her Harry Potter journey as a fan before joining the cast in the fifth film, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, made the announcement that Pottermore.com -- the Harry Potter universe site introduced by J.K. Rowling herself -- will be giving the names and information for all 11 wizarding schools from across the world. 

"The American school is called Ilvermorny, and that's unfortunately all I can say about that," she said. 

To find out more about the other schools, fans can head over to the the Harry Potter expo in Universal Studios and use the interactive map posted in the Pottermore exhibit. Registered Pottermore members can download the Blippar app and use it to discover with fun details about the newly revealed schools such as Africa's Uaguadou is the largest wizarding school in the world and accepts international students. And Japan's Mahouto Koro weeds out dark wizards early with magical robes that turn white when one betrays wizarding codes. 

Beware of the long lines for the expo hall, though. If you're going to into the park early, you probably want to make that your first stop since cues can get hours long. Inside, fans also have to wait an hour to see The Making of the Harry Potter Warner Bros. Studio Tour, but it's worth it.

Warner Bros. propmakers Tracey Curtis and Catriona Meridew sit in a replica of their on set workshop fashioning wands just like the hundreds they've made for the Harry Potter films.

"We just wrapped principal photography for Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them a week ago," said Meridew. "I don't know if I'm I'm allowed to say how many new wands we've made. They keep such a tight lid on all the information."

Curtis and Meridew gamely answer fan questions about wands they've made and working on the set as people pass through their exhibit and move on to a museum of make-up.

Fun fact: Make-up artists had to apply Daniel Radcliffe's lightning shaped scar 6,000 times over the course of filming all eight Harry Potter movies. Also on display: Ron's wig, Pettigrew's mole and Bellatrix Lestrange's teeth. 

The making exhibit ends with a photo op with a Death Eater complete with scary iron mask. 

New presentations include the "Global Impact of Harry Potter", a talk about the reach of the franchise, and "Dance Like a Beauxbatons, Battle Like a Durmstrang," a kids' workshop to get them moving and active. 

Returning this year to teach a new generation of wizards is Paul Harris's duelling demonstration and wand masterclass and propmaker Pierre Bohanna's prop showcase.

Single-day, two park tickets get fans access to all panels and the expo all weekend. Prices start at $147 for a single day adult ticket. For more information, visit universalorlando.com.

[Last modified: Saturday, January 30, 2016 8:42am]

    

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