If you’ve ever considered yourself a Potterhead, there’s a good chance you were saddened by the news that Michael Gambon passed away at the age of 82. The beloved actor made a name for himself in films like Othello and The King’s Speech. However, the titan of stage and cinema was likely best known as the man who played Albus Dumbledore in six Harry Potter films. After the news broke, fans at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter in Orlando found an especially lovely way to honor the late actor’s legacy and show how much he meant to them.
On September 28, visitors to the theme park area at Universal Studios Orlando gathered near the park’s life-sized replica of Hogwarts Castle. But they weren’t just there to wait in line for the Forbidden Journey ride that’s housed inside or to partake in any of the other nearby attractions. In a video shared by Universal Parks News Today, fans can be seen slowly lifting their own replicas of Harry Potter wands quietly into the air in a somber tribute to Michael Gambon. Check it out for yourself:
Fans of the fantasy franchise will know this gesture is how magic-wielding people in the series honor a fallen witch or wizard. It feels especially poignant to see fans honor Michael Gambon this way, as it closely mirrors the moment from Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince in which staff and students at Hogwarts raise their wands to the sky after Albus Dumbledore dies.
In the film, lights beam from the wands toward the sky – and that’s unfortunately not something the souvenir wands at Wizarding World could emulate. But the sentiment is still powerful and especially symbolic given the setting.
Since it opened more than a decade ago, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios has become a popular gathering place for fans of the Boy Who Lived. It’s not clear who in the Hogwarts Castle crowd were already at the park when Michael Gambon’s death was announced, or if anyone came to the park to pay their respects after hearing the news. But it’s obvious that the impromptu gathering and subsequent tribute were meaningful for those who were a part of it.
The fans at the park weren’t alone in sharing their grief over the acclaimed thespian's passing. Daniel Radcliffe and other members of the Harry Potter cast reacted to the news through statements and social media posts. The official Potter account on X (formerly Twitter) also shared a statement mourning the Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou alum's passing.
Michael Gambon took over the role of Dumbledore after Richard Harris, who played the wizard in The Sorcerer’s Stone and The Chamber of Secrets before he died in 2002. Gambon will be missed by Potterheads and cinephiles, and our thoughts are with his family and loved ones as they mourn him.