UPDATED: A Brief Guide to A Celebration of Harry Potter 2018 at Universal Orlando

/ Thursday, December 14, 2017
A Celebration of Harry Potter Universal Studios
The countdown has begun! A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is on its way. For the past four years, wizards and witches from around the world have gathered at the world-renown theme parks to celebrate the Harry Potter franchise and participate in demonstrations, panels, and exhibits. This year's event will be held for the fifth time on January 26th-28th 2018, and line-up is already taking impressive shape. The guide will be updated as more news and details are announced. Here's a look at the event so far with cast, panels, and activities!


Cast

Cast members from the film franchise participate in Q&As over the weekend, answering fans' questions about their experiences making the massive Harry Potter movies. As of December 14th, Natalia Tena (Nymphadora Tonks) has been added to the talent list. This year's current line-up includes: Stanislav Yanevski (Viktor Krum), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley).

A Celebration of Harry Potter cast panel

Panels

One of the many great attractions of A Celebration of Harry Potter are the panels. Experts from the film franchise share their amazing experiences of making the cinematic world of Harry Potter.

‘Graphic Design for Film: Creating the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes’ will be held by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, the genius graphic designers from MinaLima, who have created the graphics behind the film franchise.

Costume Designer Jany Tamime for the last six Harry Potter films will share the magic behind the film's costumes

Special effects supervisor John Richardson on all eight movies will divulge all behind-the-scenes secrets you can discover at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.

A Celebration of Harry Potter 2018 exhibit

Activities

If you're not at a panel or exploring the Harry Potter theme park lands, there's always more to experience around every corner. On several different sound stages, there's demonstrations of how to make a magical entrance like the Beaubaxtons and Dumstrang students, wand battle skills, chalk sidewalk art, and knowledge channels.

Wizarding Costumes from Harry Potter: The Exhibition will display stunning costumes from the film franchise. Fans can walk the runway to pose in a one-of-a-kind keepsake photo.

The Sorting Hat Experience will sort fans into the legendary houses Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin or Gryffindor.

Pottermore quizzes fans with trivia using Audible Recall (audio versions of the Harry Potter books), and can even play against their fellow housemates with house-specific questions one each day of the event.

Scholastic celebrates 20 years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was published by inviting fans to write their favorite memories on the Muggle Wall and to step inside a life-sized recreation of the copy. Fans can even enter to win a one-of-a-kind prize.

Warner Bros Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter returns with an opportunity to see the incredible effects used in the film series

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child prepares its opening on Broadway with exclusive never-before-seen looks at the costumes, designs, and production stills.

How Do You Attend?

A Celebration of Harry Potter takes place within Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Most panels and demonstrations are free with the price of regular admission or annual pass into the theme park. Universal Orlando is currently offering vacation packages with special perks.

Visit the Universal Orlando official website for more information, and check back here as this page will be updated with new details as they're released!
A Celebration of Harry Potter Universal Studios
The countdown has begun! A Celebration of Harry Potter at Universal Orlando is on its way. For the past four years, wizards and witches from around the world have gathered at the world-renown theme parks to celebrate the Harry Potter franchise and participate in demonstrations, panels, and exhibits. This year's event will be held for the fifth time on January 26th-28th 2018, and line-up is already taking impressive shape. The guide will be updated as more news and details are announced. Here's a look at the event so far with cast, panels, and activities!


Cast

Cast members from the film franchise participate in Q&As over the weekend, answering fans' questions about their experiences making the massive Harry Potter movies. As of December 14th, Natalia Tena (Nymphadora Tonks) has been added to the talent list. This year's current line-up includes: Stanislav Yanevski (Viktor Krum), Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), James Phelps (Fred Weasley), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley).

A Celebration of Harry Potter cast panel

Panels

One of the many great attractions of A Celebration of Harry Potter are the panels. Experts from the film franchise share their amazing experiences of making the cinematic world of Harry Potter.

‘Graphic Design for Film: Creating the Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes’ will be held by Miraphora Mina and Eduardo Lima, the genius graphic designers from MinaLima, who have created the graphics behind the film franchise.

Costume Designer Jany Tamime for the last six Harry Potter films will share the magic behind the film's costumes

Special effects supervisor John Richardson on all eight movies will divulge all behind-the-scenes secrets you can discover at the Warner Bros. Studio Tour London.

A Celebration of Harry Potter 2018 exhibit

Activities

If you're not at a panel or exploring the Harry Potter theme park lands, there's always more to experience around every corner. On several different sound stages, there's demonstrations of how to make a magical entrance like the Beaubaxtons and Dumstrang students, wand battle skills, chalk sidewalk art, and knowledge channels.

Wizarding Costumes from Harry Potter: The Exhibition will display stunning costumes from the film franchise. Fans can walk the runway to pose in a one-of-a-kind keepsake photo.

The Sorting Hat Experience will sort fans into the legendary houses Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, Slytherin or Gryffindor.

Pottermore quizzes fans with trivia using Audible Recall (audio versions of the Harry Potter books), and can even play against their fellow housemates with house-specific questions one each day of the event.

Scholastic celebrates 20 years since Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone was published by inviting fans to write their favorite memories on the Muggle Wall and to step inside a life-sized recreation of the copy. Fans can even enter to win a one-of-a-kind prize.

Warner Bros Studio Tour London - The Making of Harry Potter returns with an opportunity to see the incredible effects used in the film series

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child prepares its opening on Broadway with exclusive never-before-seen looks at the costumes, designs, and production stills.

How Do You Attend?

A Celebration of Harry Potter takes place within Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure. Most panels and demonstrations are free with the price of regular admission or annual pass into the theme park. Universal Orlando is currently offering vacation packages with special perks.

Visit the Universal Orlando official website for more information, and check back here as this page will be updated with new details as they're released!
Continue Reading
Despite continuing the phenomenon of the Harry Potter universe, Fantastic Beasts hasn't had the smoothest rise to success. Sure, it's a box-office phenomenon and us Harry Potter fans enjoy the spin-off of Newt Scamander's adventures with his many magical creatures. However, one dark mark against the series by fans and critics has been the controversial casting of Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald.

Back in 2016, as development for Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them was underway, actress and then-wife Amber Heard to Johnny Depp accused him of assault involving violent outbursts and filed for divorce. (Links maybe triggering for some: Variety. NY Daily News, and Jezebel offer full evidance of the complicated proceedings). At the time, fans and critics were stumped when Depp was later revealed to be playing one of the most prominent figures in wizarding world history. An uproar casually sparked about the casting prompted author J.K. Rowling and director David Yates to come to their own and his defense. Despite the controversy, the movie itself continued to become a success in theaters worldwide, with four subsequent films planned for release.

Fast forward one year, and the climate of movie-going and entertainment has fundamentally changed. In 2016, the accusations Heard made were tatter for tabloids to sensationalize and stir the gossip machine. Now, late into 2017, Hollywood has faced overwhelming accusations of sexual assault involving producers, directors, and actors which has shaken the industry to its core.

As new information about the second Fantastic Beasts was released in November 2017, Depp's reputation once again divided the fandom. Fans took to twitter for Warner Bros to remove Depp (they addressed their stance in December 2017) and replace him or supported the renowned actor either for his charitable contributions as a major star and his longterm career, filled with numerous beloved roles from Edward Scissorhands to Jack Sparrow.

The victims who spoke up, and millions of others joined the fiercely powerful #metoo movement, saw many of the predators promptly dealt with professionally. Actor Kevin Spacey was replaced by Christopher Plummer in the upcoming All The Money in the World and was fired from Netflix's House of Cards. Producer Harvey Weinstein was dismissed from his companies, expelled from the Motion Picture Academy, and faces several lawsuits. To name a few. But in the case of Depp's casting for the five-film franchise, his role as a wizard caught in the crosshairs with Albus Dumbledore (to be played by Jude Law) prominently continues.

In contrast to multiple victims who were silenced with ruined careers and financial blackmail through a manipulative exertion of control and power by Spacey and Weinstein, Depp has also only faced one incident. Friends, his daughter, and romantic partners have came forward to defend their positive experiences with the actor, and the incident between Heard and Depp - as far as the public knows - were rare.

As news of the sequel continues to spark controversy, lurking behind the fandom is something as sinister as dark magic itself: victim shaming Amber Heard in defense of Johnny Depp.

Surprisingly, within the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts fandom, sympathy towards Heard is not widely reflected. One only has to join a related community on Facebook, Twitter, Heard's instagram, and any post about the controversy with Depp to see the comments echoing dangerous and damaging stereotypes such as: "she's a gold digger", "she faked the bruises she had", "her bruises were just make-up", and "lol'ing at the fact that she arrested too for the same hting" (This incident, often cited against Heard was denied by her partner).


Generations of Harry Potter readers gleam many different moral messages from her stories - to stand up against authority, to fight prejudice, to do what is right instead of easy.

At the center of the epic saga is a young boy who lived with abusive relatives. Before finding refuge in the wizarding community, he was forced to live in a cupboard under the stairs while his emotional, mental and physical well-being was disregarded. Other forms of abuse recur throughout the series from Professor Snape's indecent treatment towards his students, house elves who are enslaved to magical folks forced to injure themselves for going against their master's orders, to misfits Hagrid and Newt Scamander supporting and protecting magical creatures from mistreatment. This in turn has been the motivating factor for fans who have not supported the Fantastic Beasts franchise so far, citing that the casting of Depp contradicts key values the series was founded on: respect, equality, and tolerance.

Legally, and fundamentally, the divorce was finalized, and the parties released a joint statement saying: "Our relationship was intensely passionate and at times volatile, but always bound by love...Neither party has made false accusations for financial gains. There was never an intent of physical or emotional harm." Heard requested the divorce settlement of $7 million to be donated to the American Civil Liberties Union and the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles. Heard nor Depp have issued statements over the controversy about his casting, and will likely not get involved as the finalization ceased public communication about the matter.

Ultimately, the case between Depp, Heard, and any legal standings is over. But, an abuse survivor's experiences should not be dismissed purely because it does not measure up to what we believe or have been taught by society to think about abusers or the accused, or what any of us only know from the sidelines. We all are far outside of the matter at hand, and many of judgement of what happened between the two should not further cause harm or perpetuate stereotypes about domestic violence.

Artists and celebrities are not perfect people, nor should we hold them up on a pedestal for their work. But that's often what we do as a society. Perhaps, for some, the ideas that someone in the public we know is not who we are thought they are, or that we refuse to let one person's actions tarnish a beloved artist's past and current work, are the emotional grassroots fans are facing in their defense of Depp. When it comes to characters and the actors who play them, we can judge for ourselves the validity of their guilt or innocence without victim shaming.

What comes now is the beliefs and actions we choose to stand for as a fandom community. Fans can support Depp's casting in the series without victim-shaming. Fans can boycott the spin-off to send a message to Warner Bros, David Yates, and J.K. Rowling. Or support Fantastic Beasts and use it to speak out further against domestic violence and abuse, raising awareness, and help local women's shelters or National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. We as the Harry Potter generation can do better.

For more information on domestic abuse or to get help for yourself/someone you love, visit the website for The National Domestic Violence Hotline or call 1-800-799-7233.
JK Rowling, Johnny Depp Casting
The Fantastic Beasts spin-off is gearing up for its second movie set for theatrical release next year, but is facing some substantial backlash along the way. As the film's title was announced in November, Warner Bros and company were under fire for one essential casting element: Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald, ex-lover and foe of Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore (to be played by Jude Law).

While making his first appearance in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them in 2016, the actor was charged with allegations of domestic violence by his soon-to-be ex-wife Amber Heard. Though the complicated divorce proceedings were ultimately settled between the pair, Harry Potter fans continued to call on a change of the role due to Depp's history.

Though staying largely out of the commentary of whether Depp should be removed or stay on for the role, author J.K. Rowling finally released a statement on her her official website (can be read in full at the link):
[...] Both of whom have expressed a desire to get on with their lives, must be respected. Based on our understanding of the circumstances, the filmmakers and I are not only comfortable sticking with our original casting, but genuinely happy to have Johnny playing a major character in the movies.[...] I accept that there will be those who are not satisfied with our choice of actor in the title role. However, conscience isn’t governable by committee. Within the fictional world and outside it, we all have to do what we believe to be the right thing. 
Further lending his support to the productions' casting, veteran director of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchise David Yates called the controversial casting of Depp "a dead issue". In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he further addressed the backlash further and the issue between the couple:
Honestly, there’s an issue at the moment where there’s a lot of people being accused of things, they’re being accused by multiple victims, and it’s compelling and frightening. With Johnny, it seems to me there was one person who took a pop at him and claimed something. I can only tell you about the man I see every day: He’s full of decency and kindness, and that’s all I see. Whatever accusation was out there doesn’t tally with the kind of human being I’ve been working with.
Depp's casting as Grindelwald promises to be a prominent role in the upcoming four films. The first sequel is subsequently named after his character, and the story eludes to exploring the great battle between himself and Dumbledore in depth.

While Warner Bros, director, and author's intention to support their choice might've been to soothe the backlash, the choice of words by Yates and Rowling has only garnered more attention. Fans are disappointed not only with Yates's position that insinuates victim-shaming and perpetuates dangerous stereotypes, but with Rowling's stance considering the issues woven through Harry Potter.

Abuse, bullying, respect, and equality are just some of the themes readers grew up taking important life lessons with them into adulthood to create social change in the real Muggle world. Rowling's choice of seemingly siding with Depp comes to a surprise for Potterheads considering her use of novels and twitter to speak out against human rights issues (from immigration to domestic violence). Additionally, Rowling also went as far as to block fans who disagree or criticized her stance before making the official statement.

While it is true that the couple settled their divorce and moved on, the public continues to judge for themselves. Whether fans to choose to separate the art from the artist to support the series and Depp, or boycott the upcoming sequels entirely, continues to be an ongoing divide in the fandom.

UPDATED: 
Amber Heard has broken her silence via social media regarding the news swirling around Depp's casting. She re-posted the original statement both her and Depp released at the time of their settlement, and noted that some of the details by Warner Bros, David Yates, and JK Rowling has left out vital info about their contentious separation.
Do you think all of the backlash towards Depp and Fantastic Beasts creators is blown-out-of-proportion or worth it to take a stand against?
The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and New Jersey Performing Arts are pleased to announce an additional performance of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. 

Combining the spellbinding music by John Williams and the film directed by Alfonso Cuaron, the event features the full-length film alongside a live orchestra performing its magical score.

Audiences will experience the next chapter of the Harry Potter Film Concert Series with the NJSO performing music from the entire film live to picture Sat, Mar 3, at 2 pm at NJPAC in Newark Sat, Mar 3, at 7:30 pm at NJPAC in Newark Tickets go on sale for 2 pm performance Fri, Dec 1.

Here's the full press release:
NEWARK, NJ—The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra and New Jersey Performing Arts Center announce an additional performance of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Concert on Saturday, March 3, at 2 pm at NJPAC in Newark. Tickets are still available for the previously announced March 3 performance at 7:30 pm. The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra will perform the magical score live from Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban while the entire film plays in high-definition on a 40-foot screen.

In Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Harry, Ron and Hermione, now teenagers, return for their third year at Hogwarts, where they are forced to face escaped prisoner, Sirius Black, who seems to pose a great threat to Harry. Harry and his friends spend their third year learning how to handle a half-horse, half-eagle creature known as a Hippogriff, repel shape-shifting Boggarts and master the art of Divination. They also visit the wizarding village of Hogsmeade and the Shrieking Shack, which is considered the most haunted dwelling in Britain. In addition to these new experiences, Harry faces a werewolf and must overcome the threats of the soul-sucking Dementors. With his best friends, Harry tackles advanced magic, crosses the barriers of time and impacts the course of life changing events for those around him.

Earning an Oscar-nomination for the score, the spellbinding and incredible music composed by John Williams became an instant classic, conjuring beautiful, soaring motifs continuing the adventures of Harry Potter on his magical journey.

This film concert series has been created by CineConcerts, in partnership with Warner Bros. Consumer Products, and will be conducted by its creator and producer, Justin Freer. He explains, “The Harry Potter film series continues to be a once-in-a-lifetime cultural phenomenon that delights millions of fans around the world. It is with great pleasure that we introduced for the first time ever an opportunity to experience the award-winning music scores played live by a symphony orchestra, all while the beloved film is simultaneously projected onto the big screen. This will be another unforgettable event.”
Tickets for both performances of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban in Concert range in price from $39 to $89. Tickets for the 2 pm performance go on sale to the general public on Friday, December 1, at 10 am. For more information about the NJSO and to purchase tickets by phone at 1.800.ALLEGRO (255.3476) and the official website www.njsymphony.org
FreeForm
Whether or not you watch a lot of tv, one thing for sure Harry Potter fans are familiar with is FreeForm and their magical Harry Potter Weekends.

On a regular basis, the channel formerly known as ABC Family, would celebrate different characters and events by holding a marathon of the franchise from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Unfortunately, as times are changing and the titles of the movies has switched hands, Collider confirmed with FreeForm that they will no longer continue its staple Harry Potter content in 2018.

For some, this news might not come as too much of a surprise. In 2016, NBC Universal bought TV rights to Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts. As well, HBO has announced that for this new years it will kicking off 2018 with a Harry Potter marathon of its own - all nine movies so far. This is the first time that the series will air uncut, commercial free on network television, and be available in the future to stream on the same platform.

It's the end of an era, but all is not lost. NBC Universal's TV deal with Warner Bros kicks off in July 2018, meaning that the movies will start to air on SyFy and USA. HBO owns a piece of the pie, offering the films on their own services. There's also the possibility of surviving your own Harry Potter marathon (and I can show you how!).

Harry Potter Weekends were one of my favorite pasttimes with the fandom, as I always loved tuning and watching the movies from beginning to end and feeling like I was apart of a greater celebration. If you want to catch the last FreeForm Harry Potter weekend, raise your wands at the end of December 28th to December 31st.

Are you going to miss Harry Potter weekends? What do you think FreeForm should replace it with?
Magic Alley UK Hogwarts Crest Necklace
Today's blog post comes to you inspired by a special gift the UK store Magic Alley sent: a Hogwarts crest necklace! I was so excited to receive this in the mail, it instantly became a wonderful addition to my Harry Potter collection.

As an accessory, it'll greatly accentuate my Muggle outfits with a dash of school and geeky pride. My closet is full of Harry Potter t-shirts and blouses I can add the necklace to, but I loved pairing it with my Gryffindor scarf. It's been a great addition to show off my personality.

Sitting on the chain is a charm of the Hogwarts crest, using the symbols of each house - Gryffindor, Slytherin, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw - and the school motto. There isn't a lot of house unity in the wizarding or muggle world, so I love adding this to my outfits. The chain is silver plated and about 16 inches long, with room to extend it more if it's needed. The clasp is easy-to-use to open and close, and adjust the length, which made it simple to wear.

If you're looking for wonderful jewelry and collectibles from Harry Potter, Magic Alley is a great site. They offer a variety of items from totes to wands, perfect for a Muggle making their way through the wizarding world. Check out their website and social media like Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter for more! Thank you Magic Alley!

Please note: The necklace featured in this post are for review purposes. The opinions are completely my own based on my experience. If you click on any of the links in this post, I will not receive any type of commission for your purchase.

Magic Alley UK Hogwarts Crest Necklace
Magic Alley UK Hogwarts Crest Necklace
The Magic of Christmas at Harry Potter Universal Studios
One of my favorite places in the world is Universal Studios's Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Magic is always in the air with its immersive attractions, making me and every Potterhead feel like they've walked straight into the films and the books we love so much. Now that the Christmas season is here, its casting a spell on me a hundred times more.

As the holiday season arrives and we wrap ourselves in robes and scarves, both of the Harry Potter lands at Universal Studios in California and Florida have undergone a magical make-over with decorations, merchandise, and entertainment. I was so excited to grab a warm butterbeer and join my fellow Hogwarts peers at Universal Orlando to enjoy the transformation in person!
Honeydukes Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Honeydukes windows
Wizarding World of Harry Potter Honeydukes Christmas
Inside Honeydukes
Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Outside of Dervish and Banges
The Three Broomsticks
Hogsmeade Village and Diagon Alley are offering new things for fans to experience - seasonal beverages and food are available on restaurant menus, entertainment like Frog Choir and Celestina Warbeck feature holiday-themed tunes, and the stores are decorated with festive trimmings.

As soon as nightfall hits, Hogsmeade begins to glow. Both the interior and exterior of The Three Broomsticks, Honeydukes, Ollivanders, Dervish and Banges, and interactive wand storefronts come to life with its wreaths and pine-wrapped lanterns. From the owl post to the Hogwarts train, Hogsmeade sparkled with strings of lights, looking absolutely gorgeous.
Hogsmeade Christmas in The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
Hogsmeade windows
Christmas at Ollivanders
Hogsmeade all lit up
Wizarding World of Harry Potter Christmas
the beautiful Hogwarts Express
The true showstopper is the all-new show created The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts. Throughout the evening, fans gather around Hogwarts, the "stage", for a state-of-the-art projection show inspired by the films.

Having attended fireworks shows before, The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts is one of the best organized 'performances' I've seen. Hogsmeade can become crowded early in the evening as a line begins towards Hogwarts. The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts plays every twenty minutes, so the area clears out and it's a bit roomier, to take photos, etc. The multiple shows gives everyone a chance to see the show, not once but as many times as they want, which I really enjoyed. Having stayed to see some of the later shows closer to the park closing, I watched The Magic of Christmas at Hogwarts a few times and was able to take in all of the sights around the castle.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter Christmas Hogwarts
Wizarding World of Harry Potter Christmas Hogwarts
The show itself is very lovely, displaying original scenes inspired by the films for about seven to eight minutes. Its display is a mix of tributes to the movies such as caroling ghosts, a peek inside the Yule Ball from Goblet of Fire, bewitched Ford Anglia running into snowman, and Weasleys' Wizard Wheezes fireworks to cap off the production. The projections are gorgeous, making the castle come even more alive with different effects such as a Christmas tree in the courtyard, fiery lanterns, and a snow capped mountainside.

My camera's video wasn't working, but here are some gorgeous pictures I took. (Inside the Magic has a wonderful video too, but it's definitely something to see in person!) I'll definitely be going back this holiday season to experience more during the day and evening, so please stay tuned!
Wizarding World of Harry Potter Christmas Hogwarts
Fantastic Beasts Sequel The Crimes of Grindelwald
Almost a year ago the Fantastic Beasts spin-off took flight in theaters worldwide. It only seems fitting that news of its sequel comes our way. Warner Bros Studios has announced the title for the second of five films: Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald.

The last time we saw Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne), he and his friends Tina Goldestein , her sister Queenie (Alison Sudol), and a muggle aspiring baker Jacob had put an end to one of the most dangerous wizards of all time. Together, they helped the MACUSA capture Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp), famed Dark wizard in the wizarding world.

The press release provides this film synopsis so far:
At the end of the first film, the powerful Dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald (Depp) was captured by MACUSA (Magical Congress of the United States of America), with the help of Newt Scamander (Redmayne). But, making good on his threat, Grindelwald escaped custody and has set about gathering followers, most unsuspecting of his true agenda: to raise pure-blood wizards up to rule over all non-magical beings.

In an effort to thwart Grindelwald’s plans, Albus Dumbledore (Law) enlists his former student Newt Scamander, who agrees to help, unaware of the dangers that lie ahead. Lines are drawn as love and loyalty are tested, even among the truest friends and family, in an increasingly divided wizarding world.
A major detail the sequel also dropped is the Deathly Hallows symbols, which will likely play a major role in the movie. As you can see some of the invisibility cloak and wand in the title image above. (The only item seemingly missing is the resurrection stone.) The Hallows is a storied tale in the Harry Potter series, and a major part of Dumbledore and Grindelwald's relationship and battle for power is over the famed Elder wand, the most powerful wand in existence.

Over the past year, clues have been dropping like Hogwarts letters from the sky about the sequel's premise. From the hashtag #MagicInProgress, we've learned some exciting news such as the cast has been expanded with new characters like Nicolas Flamel and Newt's brother. Today, we also got a first look of primary cast members and further clues about their roles in the next adventure!

(Left to right) JUDE LAW plays a young ALBUS DUMBLEDORE, taking on the mantle of one of J.K. Rowling’s most beloved characters; EZRA MILLER makes a return as the enigmatic CREDENCE, whose fate was unknown at the end of the first film; CLAUDIA KIM appears as a Maledictus, the carrier of a blood curse that destines her ultimately to transform into a beast; ZOË KRAVITZ plays LETA LESTRANGE, who had once been close to Newt Scamander but is now engaged to his brother; CALLUM TURNER joins the cast as Newt’s older brother, THESEUS SCAMANDER, a celebrated war hero and the Head of the Auror Office at the British Ministry of Magic; KATHERINE WATERSTON returns as TINA GOLDSTEIN, who has been reinstated as an Auror for MACUSA; EDDIE REDMAYNE stars again as wizarding world Magizoologist NEWT SCAMANDER, who has now gained fame in the wizarding world as the author of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them; DAN FOGLER reprises the role of the only No-Maj in the group, JACOB KOWALSKI; ALISON SUDOL reprises the part of Tina’s free-spirited sister, QUEENIE GOLDSTEIN, a Legilimens who can read minds; and JOHNNY DEPP returns as the powerful Dark wizard GELLERT GRINDELWALD in Warner Bros. Pictures’ “FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF GRINDELWALD.”
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is the second of five films for the spin-off series. This installment will be directed by David Yates with the screenplay written by J.K. Rowling. Let the countdown begin: the next adventure will be released November 16th, 2018! Raise your wands if you're excited for the sequel!
Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts films
Warner Bros Studios
When Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them filming began, and more details came to light about the cast and story, a major portion of the fanbase was disappointed about the casting of one vital character. The decision to cast Johnny Depp as Gellert Grindelwald has been an ongoing, subtle issue within the Harry Potter franchise when actress and Depp's former wife Amber Heard made allegations that she suffered domestic abuse during their marriage.
As news of the spin-off's sequel were released, especially a cast photo including Depp, Fantastic Beasts fans took to twitter to fix the casting of Johnny Depp as Grindelwald. While Fantastic Beasts was trending, tweeters were replacing Depp with other actors, cropping him out of the cast photo entirely, and wondering if it's too late to get Colin Farrell back (he previously played a version of Grindelwald).




Fans who are pleased with Depp's casting believe the one thing to fix Fantastic Beasts is to add a lot more of him, and are excited about where he will take the character next.

Though and director David Yates and author JK Rowling respectfully stated that at the time of casting believe in Depp's work more than his personal life, fans were still none too happy - especially since the Harry Potter phenomenon delves into issues of abuse from the boy who lived and his immediate family with the Dursleys, as well as magical creatures like house elves and their masters.

Either way with the sexual abuse allegations with various directors, producers, and actors throughout Hollywood coming to light his year, scrutiny and validation of the victims' stories are becoming  more important than ever. The deal with Depp to play Grindelwald has been a done deal, but we will and wait see if the tide turns enough for Warner Bros respond again to their casting decision.

Are you happy with Johnny Depp's casting as Grindelwald? Does his casting inhibit your excitement for the sequel?
Harry Potter A History of Magic
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone turned a monumental twenty years old in summer 2017. Events were held all across the world where Potterheads celebrated the birth of the series that has captured our imaginations and brought magic to the Muggle world.

To mark the occasion, the British Library's currently holding an exhibition (until February 2018) that offers the tremendous artifacts and real history behind J.K. Rowling's beloved series.

In giving a special look at the exhibition, BBC aired a documentary Harry Potter A History of Magic visiting the showcase with author J.K Rowling. For Harry Potter fans living in the UK, the television special will also be available on DVD!

Here's a brief description of what's included in the DVD:
Celebrating the 20th anniversary of the first Harry Potter book, this documentary visits the real-life magical history behind J.K. Rowling’s beloved classics. With footage from the British Library’s exhibition, and exclusive access to a priceless collection of artefacts, take a tour around the mesmerising journey creating this global phenomenon.

Includes interviews with J.K. Rowling herself as she examines the most exciting items on display, and opens her private archive to reveal drawings and drafts that have been hidden away for years.

Featuring J.K. Rowling Narrator Imelda Staunton (Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter series)
If you're looking for a special gift this holiday season or to add this extraordinary look of the real history behind Harry Potter to your collection, Harry Potter: A History of Magic will be released on November 27th. Currently, this DVD is only available for fans in the UK with pre-order on Amazon UK. (not a sponsored or affiliate link).
Universal Orlando Celebrates Christmas at Wizarding World of Harry Potter
The holiday season is upon us! Giving the gift of pure magic all year round, Universal Studios has released new information of the holidays coming to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando, Florida.

From seasonal food and beverages to decorations and merchandise, the theme parks are inviting the warm spirit of Christmas into the wonderful Harry Potter lands for the holidays. From November 18th, 2017 to January 6th, 2018, unique additions to their entertainment will certainly charm the hearts of every witch and wizard.

In Hogsmeade

 (These are also available for theme park guests at Universal Studios Hollywood)

At Universal Orlando, a new show The Magic of Christmas Hogwarts Castle will cast a spell on guests with a state-of-the-art projections and an original soundtrack inspired by the films. Theme park guests can gather around the Hogwarts Castle as everyone's favorite school goes under a little makeover for the Christmas season. The show will be available to see multiple times throughout the evening.

During selected hours n Hogsmeade, the Frog Choir performs in front of Hogwarts students throughout the day. A brand-new collection of songs will be added to their repertoire including:
“Christmas at Hogwarts” – This wizarding carol casts a Christmas spell that echoes through the halls of Hogwarts
“We Wish You A Merry Christmas” – The choir will bring a new and festive life to this classic holiday song.

“The Most Magical Yule Ball of All” – Hosting the TriWizard Tournament also brings with it a magical event known as the Yule Ball. This song captures all the magic, elegance and wonder of this very special night.

“I Cast a Spell On Father Christmas” – This fun song is a cautionary tale asking young wizards to be sure of the incantation before casting a spell.

In Diagon Alley 

Known as one of the wizarding world's most popular songstresses Celestina Warbeck and her Banshees have a new chart-topping holiday album Nothin' Like A Holiday Spell. Wizards shopping at Diagon Alley can catch bedazzling performances for:
“Nothing Like a Holiday Spell” – There are many spells and charms in the wizarding world. But during this time of year, conjuring warm feelings of yuletide cheer is the most magical spell of all.

“Accio Christmas” – This calypso inspired song officially brings a Christmas rhythm of the islands to the British Isles.

“My Baby Gave Me a Hippogriff for Christmas” – Have you ever received a gift that wasn’t exactly what you were expecting? This song describes one such moment our singing sorceress experienced.

“A Witch and Wizard’s Wintry Wondrous Land” – This classic wizarding carol shows there’s nothing more lovely than sharing the Christmas season with family friends—and of course Celestina’s fans.
If you're planning a vacation or heading over to Universal Studios Florida and Islands of Adventure, check out the official website on all of the wondrous holiday magic you can experience. This is sure to be an experience to remember!
Albus Dumbledore once said that "Of course, it's happening in side your head Harry. Why on earth should it mean that it's not real?" The poetic phrase once shared from Hogwarts's wise headmaster to the boy who lived Harry Potter has become synonymous with Potterheads around the world, cementing that what takes place in our imaginations reading J.K. Rowling's series is in fact real and apart of us. Now a virtual reality game will bring fans into a new dimension of their favorite wizarding world on an exciting platform.

From the creators of the Pokemon Go, which swept the world to search for creatures in their neighborhood, city, and across the world, comes a game that will bring J.K. Rowling's wizarding world to life.

Ninantic, Inc. is teaming up with Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment to design an augmented reality mobile inspired game Harry Potter: Wizards Unite. The mobile game will use state-of-the-art AR mobile technology which will allow players to go on adventures, learn and cast spells, discover mysterious artifacts, and encounter fantastic beasts and iconic characters as they explore the real world. Portkey Games, a label underWarner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, is dedicated to creating game experiences inspired by J.K. Rowling's books.

“The beloved Harry Potter stories have captured imaginations worldwide for more than 20 years and soon we’ll turn the fantasy into augmented reality, allowing fans and their friends to become wizards and witches.” - John Hanke, founder and CEO of Niantic, Inc.

In a completely new and immersive experience, aspiring witches and wizards can explore the wonderful world of Harry Potter in their very own backyard. Niantic, Inc. will be using state-of-the-art technology for their vision with Warner Bros. to come to fruition. More details for Harry Potter: Wizards Unite will be announced in 2018.

Are you excited for this groundbreaking addition to the wizarding world? Stay up to date on Harry Potter: Wizards Unite right here on Potter Talk, and follow along on Harry Potter Wizards Unite official website, Twitter, and Facebook.
Author J.K. Rowling once said, 'No story lives unless someone wants to listen," at the final premiere of the Harry Potter film franchise. Turn time back almost twenty years, and it's impossible to imagine that the story of a young boy who discovers he's a wizard and goes to wizarding school was declined more than once. But that's exactly what happened - twelve publishers turned down the original pitch.

As part of celebrating Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone 20th birthday, Harry Potter: A History Of Magic exhibition at London’s British Library has now shared Rowling's initial synopsis.

Thanks to Seventeen and Mashable, we've gotten an official look:
Harry Potter lives with his aunt, uncle and cousin because his parents died in a car-crash — or so he has been told. The Dursleys don't like Harry asking questions; in fact, they don't seem to like anything about him, especially the very odd things that keep happening around him (which Harry himself can't explain).

The Dursleys' greatest fear is that Harry will discover the truth about himself, so when letters start arriving for him near his eleventh birthday, he isn't allowed to read them. However, the Dursleys aren't dealing with an ordinary postman, and at midnight on Harry's birthday the gigantic Rubeus Hagrid breaks down the door to make sure Harry gets to read his post at last. Ignoring the horrified Dursleys, Hagrid informs Harry that he is a wizard, and the letter he gives Harry explains that he is expected at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry in a month's time.

“To the Dursleys' fury, Hagrid also reveals the truth about Harry's past. Harry did not receive the scar on his forehead in a car-crash; it is really the mark of the great dark sorcerer Voldemort, who killed Harry's mother and father but mysteriously couldn't kill him, even though he was a baby at the time. Harry is famous among the witches and wizards who live in secret all over the country because Harry's miraculous survival marked Voldemort's downfall.

So Harry, who has never had friends or family worth the name, sets off for a new life in the wizarding world. He takes a trip to London with Hagrid to buy his Hogwarts equipment (robes, wand, cauldron, beginners' draft and potion kit) and shortly afterwards, sets off for Hogwarts from Kings Cross Station (platform nine and three quarters) to follow in his parents' footsteps.

Harry makes friends with Ronald Weasley (sixth in his family to go to Hogwarts and tired of having to use second-hand spellbooks) and Hermione Granger (cleverest girl in the year and the only person in the class to know all the uses of dragon's blood). Together, they have their first lessons in magic — astronomy up on the tallest tower at two in the morning, herbology out in the greenhouses where the...

The official exhibition, open until Wednesday February, 28th, showcases more than 100 artefacts that donated by J.K. Rowling, Bloomsbury and other exhibitors, to show the inspiration her wizarding world. From the origins of Nicholas Flamel to the creatures and plantlife in herbology, Harry Potter: A History of Magic in London lets the magic unfold of its phenomenal origins. It's open from Friday 20th October to Wednesday 28th February. Tickets cost £16 adults, £8 students.

If you can't see the exhibition in person, a documentary will also air on BBC 2, on October 29th at 9pm. Also, Harry Potter: A History of Magic will be landing in New York next October.