Want to Win a Free Trip to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter?

Yes, I said FREE.

The International Confederation of Wizards is the brainchild of Keith Cardin, the organizer for the Orlando area Harry Potter meetup group. His goal is simple: to send two deserving Harry Potter fans – who could not afford the trip on their own – on an all-expense paid trip to Orlando’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The trip would include round-trip airfare for the winners (applicants must reside in the USA, Canada, United Kingdom or South America), 4 night/3 day hotel accomodations at the Loews Royal Pacific Hotel, 3-day park-to-park access tickets, and $400 in spending money, each. Estimated retail cost is up to $4000.00.

In the spirit of Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, the motto of the International Confederation of Wizards is this famous quote from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets:  “Help will always be given at Hogwarts to those who need it the most.” Keith and his co-staffer Tiffany are both long-time, die-hard Harry Potter fans who have already had a chance to experience the ultimate of Harry Potter experiences: to see Hogsmeade village come to life, to have a meal in The Three Broomsticks; to visit the shops and sip Butterbeer, and to walk through the halls of Hogwarts. There are thousands of Harry Potter fans who’ve been able to share in that experience (the Grown-Up Fangirl included), but how many simply can’t afford to do so? It is with this thought in mind that Keith decided to try to help make this dream a reality for someone, but he can’t do it alone.

So, how is the ICW planning to accomplish all of this? With the help of the fandom, and any other donors who wish to contribute. One of the things I’ve always admired about the Harry Potter fandom family is that in times of need, we have always rallied around each other to assist in whatever ways possible. Whether it’s helping someone who has lost their job to pay bills or groceries, or contributing to a fund so someone could attend the funeral of another fandom friend, we’ve always had that helpful spirit that Dumbledore spoke of. Now, if we can come together in times of hardship, can’t we come together for fun as well?

The fandom needs your help to make this happen! If you would like to find out if you qualify, or would like to apply, submissions guidelines can be found here.

For those of you who would like to donate, please click this link.

For those who would like to find out how they can help, the volunteer openings are listed here.

Catching Up With The Grown-Up Fangirl

I know it’s been a while since I’ve done a proper Fangirl post here, and I apologize. Things have been so hectic for me in real life that I had been behind on a lot of stuff. With my Harry Potter assignments over at Hollywood News, along with the summer hiatus of several of the shows I fangirl over, I’ve been neglecting most of my fandoms that aren’t HP related. However, I am desperately trying to catch up with everything. Here’s what I’ve been up to:

Harry Potter: Last weekend I attended Infinitus 2010 in Orlando, and got a chance to visit the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I have yet to sit down and gather my thoughts about the convention, but I did manage to do a write-up about the park, which can be found at my Hollywood News blog here. I will say that it was one of the best experiences I’ve had, as I’ve gotten to meet a lot of “online” friends and they’ve now become real life friends, which is great. I can always use more Harry Potter fanatics in my life. 🙂

True Blood: With the frenzy I’ve faced over the last two weeks preparing for Infinitus, I had completely missed the two most recent episodes of True Blood. I finally got a chance to watch them last night and WOW. I don’t even know where to start!!! I am loving the additions of Alcide and Jesus (OMG his scenes with Lafayette!!), and the casting for Debbie Pelt was perfect! Batshit crazy doesn’t even begin to cover it!! And I’m loving James Frain’s version of Franklin Mott; he’s creepy but so pathetic at the same time, while being scary. There’s just a lot going on in this show so far, and we’re only what, four episodes into this season? Speaking of which, a new trailer for the second half of season 3 premiered at Comic-Con and holy hell!! This season is about to get even more intense!!

The Tudors: After getting completely hooked onto this series this past February, I wasn’t ready for it to end. This was a series brilliantly done, and has some of the best casting I’ve seen. The series ended on a very classy note, although I was sad to see the death of one of my favorite characters, Charles Brandon. I would really like for Showtime to re-visit this series and cast, possibly showing the reign of Mary Tudor, especially with Sarah Bolger as Mary. Would be a very good show, indeed.

The Vampire Diaries returns to the CW for its second season on Thursday, September 9 at 8pm. Supernatural follows two weeks later when its new Friday night schedule premieres on September 24. Both of these dates seem so far away, but at least it’s not January, which is when Caprica is scheduled to return.

So for awhile, at least, I may have to find a few new shows to watch/catch up on, and believe me, there has been no shortage of suggestions. I’ll do my best to keep up this blog a bit better, but don’t forget, for all of my Harry Potter related news, check me out on Hollywood News.

Videos from “Inside The Magic” on Wizarding World Grand Opening

Inside The Magic has posted a great video summary released by Universal of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter Grand Opening events that took place on June 16 and 18. The video includes a small clip of an interview with Harry Potter creator and author J.K. Rowling, who was present for both events and seems to be in as much awe of the park as her most loyal fans.

The following video is from the actual Grand Opening event on Friday, June 18; the event was scheduled to stream live, but there were technical difficulties that prevented many online viewers from seeing the event. Dan Radcliffe welcomes the class from Wilderness Oak Elementary School, who won a contest on The TODAY Show to attend the grand opening. They were the first guests allowed into the park, and were ushered in by all of the Potter cast members on hand for the celebration.

More videos from the event can be found on ITM’s YouTube page.

TODAY Show videos from Live Coverage of Wizarding World of Harry Potter Opening

The Today Show has some fun (if sometimes erroneous) videos of their live coverage of the Grand Opening of WWoHP. In the first video, Ann Curry and Al Roker speak to the cast members about their experiences growing up in the films and their reactions to the theme park. Unfortunately, it is a bit obvious that the journalists are not fans, as they are unsure of several well-known facts about the series (Al Roker calls Sir Michael Gambon’s character “Aldis” instead of “Albus” and mentions that the Weasley Twins “supposedly” open up a joke shop), but the interaction between the cast members is magical as usual, and very fun to watch.

The next video in the sequence features the first-grade class from Wilderness Oak Elementary in San Antonio, TX, who were the winners in a “Wizarding World of Harry Potter” contest on the show last month. The students raised $9472.17 as part of their “Hearts for Haiti” fundraiser, in which they sold stick-on art for Valentine’s Day to raise money for the victims of the Haiti earthquake. The video details their goal, the moment they were announced as winners, and their journey and sneak peek visit into the park.

These students were personally greeted by all of the attending HP cast members and the first “Muggles” to be ushered into the park during the Grand Opening celebration. Their guide? None other than Harry Potter himself, Mr. Daniel Radcliffe.

Video #3 gives a little bit of background history on the series, and the making of some aspects of the park. I think this was the most talked about video amongst Potter fans, because Al Roker and Ann Curry cast a “stupefy” spell which turned Matt Lauer and Natalie Morales in frogs, and we know that’s not a proper spell!

Other videos are also available of Al Roker visiting the shops, tasting Butterbeer and being chosen by a wand at Ollivander’s. All of these videos can be seen on the TODAY Show website at this link.

Official Grand Opening of Wizarding World of Harry Potter today!!

Today is the day all Potter fans have been waiting for since 2006, when it was announced that Universal Studios and Warner Bros. were collaborating to bring the Wizarding World of Harry Potter to life: the official grand opening for the public takes place at 9:00am EST.

NBC’s TODAY Show began broadcasting live from the park at 7am this morning, conducting interviews with the cast in attendance: Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, James & Oliver Phelps, Tom Felton, Bonnie Wright, Matthew Lewis, Michael Gambon and Warwick Davis. The event will also be broadcast LIVE at http://www.grandopeningwebevent.com at 9am, so get ready for the excitement!!

Images and video from Wizarding World of Harry Potter Celebrity event

Photo courtesy of MuggleNetLive via Twitter

WOW.

That’s probably the only coherent word I could think of while watching the Celebrity Preview ceremony of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I’m sure the video, while beautiful, didn’t hold a candle to the experience of watching the event live.

The event included wonderful highlights, including Warwick Davis conducting the Hogwarts Frog Choir in a vocal rendition of “The Hogwarts March” (from the Yule Ball in Goblet of Fire) and “Double Trouble” (which was featured in Prisoner of Azkaban).

World renown composer John Williams conducted the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra:

The Knight Bus drove in with stars Sir Michael Gambon, Matthew Lewis, James & Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, and Tom Felton; they were quickly followed by the arrival of Dan Radcliffe and Rupert Grint in a Ford Anglia. Dan Radcliffe spoke to the crowd, and then led them in lighting up Hogwarts castle with the chant of  “Lumos Maxima!”.

More photos and video can be found at Mugglenet, The Leaky Cauldron, and Inside the Magic.

UPDATE: Photos of J.K. Rowling are available via Getty Images.

I will not hesitate to say this, but I bawled like a baby through much of the entire event, but most especially when Hogwarts Castle was illuminated. And I’m sure I’ll cry even harder once I step through those doors a month from now. It literally will be a dream come true for me.

Reminder: Live Streaming of WWoHP events to begin tonight

This is just a reminder that tonight is the first night of Grand Opening events for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Tonight’s event is the Celebrity Preview, where Potter cast members Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, James & Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, Tom Felton, Matthew Lewis, Warwick Davis, Michael Gambon and others will be in attendance. Composer extraordinaire John Williams is scheduled to conduct a symphony orchestra, and there are also rumors that Emma Watson and J.K. Rowling are in Orlando for the events, although this information has not been yet confirmed.

Muggles everywhere can follow the events live at the following links:

Universal Orlando: http://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotternews or http://www.grandopeningwebevent.com

You can also follow the popular Potter fansites Mugglenet, The Leaky Cauldron, HPANA, and Snitchseeker, who are all represented down in Orlando and will be providing live updates via Twitter all this week. Here are the Twitter accounts to follow:

MuggleNet: http://www.twitter.com/MuggleNetLive

The Leaky Cauldron: http://www.twitter.com/leaky

SnitchSeeker: http://www.twitter.com/SnitchSeeker

HPANA: http://www.twitter.com/hpana

UPDATE: It is being reported that guests in the park have been given light-up wands that will be used to “light up” Hogwarts Castle when Dan Radcliffe leads the crowd in casting a “lumos” spell.

Also, HPANA has tweeted that due to rain, the opening has been delayed by 30-minutes.

Grand Opening of Wizarding World of Harry Potter to be Streamed Live

Can’t make it down for the opening day? No fear! Universal Orlando will stream not one, but two live opening events for the much-anticipated Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

The Celebration Events will begin tomorrow night, June 16th with the Celebrity Preview. This event is a private event, and guests will be driven to the park by the actual Knight Bus that was used in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The live broadcast will be streamed from 9:30-10:30pm EST.

The public Grand Opening event will take place on Friday, June 18th at 9:00am EST, where several of the stars ( Dan Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, Michael Gambon, and James & Oliver Phelps, among others) have been confirmed to be in attendance.

Both events can be viewed at http://www.universalorlando.com/harrypotternews, just click on the LIVE FEED button at the top left of the page.

Harry Happy streaming!

Photo courtesy of Taiesha Amica

Night of a Thousand Wizards (updated) (via Infinitus 2010)

Specific details about the “Night of a Thousand Wizards” event taking place after hours on July 16, 2010, at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and as part of the Infinitus 2010 convention being held in Orlando, FL .

Welcome to Night of a Thousand Wizards, a special event on July 16, 2010 just for Infinitus registrants, at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ exclusively at Universal’s Islands of Adventure® at Universal Orlando® Resort. Your exclusive voyage into The Wizarding World of Harry Potter begins any time after 2 p.m. on Friday, July 16, 2010; you can enjoy the rides, restaurants, shows and activities at Universal’s Islands of Adventure® all afternoo … Read More

via Infinitus 2010

Potter Stars Confirmed to Attend Next Week’s Opening of Theme Park

In news that has me crying like a baby this morning (since I can’t be there), Snitchseeker.com has reported that Harry Potter stars Dan Radcliffe and Rupert Grint have been confirmed to attend next Friday’s opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The two join previously confirmed stars James & Oliver Phelps, Bonnie Wright, and Tom Felton; there have also been rumors that J.K. Rowling herself will attend the opening, although I don’t think it has been officially announced or confirmed anywhere on the internet.

“The Making of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” video now available online

Video of yesterday’s NBC special on “The Making of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” is now available online at Hulu. This special includes some behind-the-scenes action, plus interviews with many of the people who were involved at bring the well-imagined wizarding world to life.

Please click the link below to be taken to the video:
http://www.hulu.com/watch/154415/the-making-of-the-wizarding-world-of-harry-potter

“Wizarding World” Special to be shown on NBC

NBC will air a 30-minute special on “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter” on Sunday, June 6th at 7pm. The special, which will give a sneak peek of Hogsmeade Village and Hogwarts Castle, can also be viewed online at NBC.com.

A preview of the special can be viewed here:

NBC Preview of \”Wizarding World\” special

“Wizarding World of Harry Potter” news, photos and videos (UPDATED)

Apparently, the place I need to be in right now is Orlando, FL. Several stars of the hit Harry Potter franchise – Matthew Lewis, Emma Watson, James & Oliver Phelps, and Robbie Coltrane – are on a surprise sneak peek tour of the WWoHP today. This photo is from the fan site Snitchseeker, and shows the actors being playful at what appears to be the entrance to Hogsmeade.

Also, over on the Examiner website, you can find several videos from the park, including the following video of a helicopter tour of the park. (NOTE: The video appears to have been taken during the midst of construction).

OH. EMM. GEE.  Can you say EXCITED????

UPDATE: Additional photos and videos can be found at the Snitchseeker s, including a video of the cast touring/experiencing the park.

AAA Magazine gives new details on Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Hogwarts robes. Quidditch brooms. And yes, even Moaning Myrtle.

These things and more can be expected when the Wizarding World of Harry Potter opens its doors June 18. AAA Magazine gives some great details about the park, and some very good advice to all Potterheads in this one sentence: Note to the devoted: BREATHE. This article is great in terms of detail, and the right amount of humor, and it’s obvious that the author knows the type of audience that is the Potter fandom.

“Universal may have tackled iconic characters before – Marvel comics, Jurassic Park, Dr. Seuss – but none for so critical an audience. Let’s just say, nobody looks at the Cat in the Hat’s bowtie and wonders if it’s the correct shade of red.”

She even asks the question that has baffled most – if not all – Potterheads, but has never (to my knowledge) been asked: what in the name of Merlin’s saggy Y-fronts is Ollivander’s doing in Hogsmeade? (She get a very realistic and believable answer in response). To find out more, the article can be found online here.

New video of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Universal has released a new video showing the making of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter theme park, scheduled to open on June 18.

The video goes behind the scenes of the design of the park,with actress Emma Watson (who is celebrating her 20th birthday today!), production designer Stuart Craig, and producers David Heyman and David Barron.

The video can be found at this link on the Universal Orlando website: http://media.universalorlando.com/harrypotter/videos.php?item=39

Video of “The Forbidden Journey” ride at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Universal has released a walk-through tour video of the “Forbidden Journey” ride at the Wizarding World Theme Park, which is scheduled to open on June 18. The President of the Universal Creative Department, Mark Woodbury, takes us through the many features of the ride, which includes interactive portraits of the Hogwarts founders – Godric Gryffindor, Helga Hufflepuff, Rowena Ravenclaw and Salazar Slytherin; a tour of Dumbledore’s office (squee!), and the DADA classroom. The video can be viewed at the official Wizarding World of Harry Potter website, or you can see it below:

Ellen Experiences ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’!

This post is a few days late, but that doesn’t lessen the pure awesomesauce of this video! Ellen DeGeneres took viewers behind the scenes at The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, which is scheduled to open to the public on June 18. The video features Honeydukes, Dumbledore’s office and other great wizarding world mentionables in great detail. Another thing of note: they have brooms!! Seriously, I think I will cry when I get there!

The video can be seen here on Ellen’s website:

Video of the Day: Ellen Experiences ‘The Wizarding World of Harry Potter’!.

Want more information on The Wizarding World of Harry Potter? Keep following my blog: I will be in the park the weekend of July 15-18, as part of the Infinitus conference.

A few new photos of the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

My friend Kat is down in Orlando this weekend, one of her “grueling” duties as a Chairperson for Infinitus (lucky!) She was nice enough to send me a few cellphone photos of what she’s seeing, and gave me permission to post the photos as well. I will continue to update this post with photos as I get them, but here’s just a small preview…

Don’t forget: Universal will be announcing the opening date for the park on Monday, March 22 at 12:00 noon.

EDIT: 3:30pm EST, Kat just called to tell me that she just rode the Dueling Dragons ride at the park, and that it’s FREAKIN AWESOME!!!! I’m now officially jealous.

Today Show Exclusive: First Look inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Here’s a link to video from this morning’s Today Show, giving a sneak peek first look inside the Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

Am I the only one freaking out about this? It’s almost here!

(P.S. Am I the only Potterhead who gets irritated when non-Potter fans report on Potter-related items? I mean, c’mon! The name is Hogsmeade, not Hogmeads.) 🙂

“Wizarding World” vacation packages and a chance to ask Jason Isaacs a question

Today Universal Orlando released details for an exclusive “The Wizarding World of Harry Potter Vacation Package”. The package – which starts at $645/adult (additional packages can be found here) – will include hotel accommodations and admission to both Universal Orlando theme parks – along with the following benefits:

* Four-night accommodations at one of Universal’s three on-site AAA Four Diamond hotels: Loews Portofino Bay Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel and Loews Royal Pacific Resort
* Three days admission to Universal Studios and Universal’s Islands of Adventure theme parks (park-to-park not included)
* Complimentary Universal Express access to bypass the regular lines at select theme park rides and attractions (a $70 value per person, per day)
* Early park admission to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
* Breakfast at the Three Broomsticks
* Commemorative ticket for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter
* Good for travel beginning May 28, 2010

And in more Harry Potter news, CNN is giving Potter fans a chance to connect with Jason Isaacs, who plays the handsome (yet evil) Lucius Malfoy. Just click here to add a comment or ask a question, and check back to see if you get a response from Jason himself!