All students at the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry have worn the Sorting Hat. It's a big deal. The tattered, brown topper magically divides the student body into members of different "houses" — Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or Slytherin.
This weekend, Universal Orlando guests can have that experience during "A Celebration of Harry Potter," a three-day event that explores many aspects of the boy wizard created by author J.K. Rowling.
The Sorting Hat Experience will be presented by "Harry Potter: The Exhibition," a traveling show included in Universal's Harry Potter Expo.
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"We have an actual Sorting Hat that was used in the film, and we will have actors there who will be playing roles to sort fans into their favorite Hogwarts houses," said Jesse Phillips, director of marketing for Global Experience Specialists, which created the exhibit.
"The Sorting Hat, through means of asking questions, will figure out from the guests where their heart lies," Phillips said. The attraction has a high satisfaction rate, though not perfect, at the exhibit, he said.
"We had one child who was pretty upset that he was put into Slytherin," Phillips said.
The Sorting Hat is a small sample of the 15,000-square-foot exhibit, which salutes the creativity and craftsmanship behind the eight Potter films. The exhibit also features movie costumes worn by the characters Harry, Ron, Hermoine and Dumbledore.
"There are thousands of individual stitches put on the designs, elaborate embroideries," Phillips said. "They really are beautiful."
The expo gives other Potter-related businesses a chance to show off.
Scholastic, the U.S. publisher of the seven Harry Potter books, is giving away 50,000 "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" posters that reflect last year's reissue of the books. Artist Kazu Kibuishi will be on hand for autographs.
"The imagery is really, really amazing. It tells the story just by looking at the beautiful new artwork," said Rachel Coun, director of marketing.
Scholastic also is constructing a 14-by-20-foot wall for fans to express their feelings about Potter.
"This board is going to be up for the entire weekend for fans to come by and tell us why they love Harry Potter," Coun said.
Beyond the walls of the expo, based in a Universal soundstage, there will be panel discussions as part of the Potter celebration. Some will feature actors from the film series, including James Phelps (who played Fred Weasley), Oliver Phelps (George Weasley) and Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood).
Another will feature Paul Harris, who designed five wand-combat moves designed for "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix," the fifth movie of the series.
"We're going to ask some of the people in the audience to come up and have that sort of training to do wand combat," said Hannah Walker, marketing manager of Warner Bros. Studio Tour London, which will have a wand-combat experience in the expo.
Seating for the panels, held in the Toon Amphitheater of Islands of Adventure, will be on a first-come, first-served basis. "A Celebration of Harry Potter" is included in regular admission.
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A Celebration of Harry Potter
Where: Universal Orlando, Kirkman Road and Interstate 4, southwest of Orlando