In 2014 Annual Conference, 2014 Conference - Monday

By Heidi Taulman, APR

This dynamic duo shared the spotlight and taught attendees about how to harness the power of opportunity when it presents itself and that it can and will happen more than once, so buckle up and take notes!  With a staff of about 11 employees, this team was responsible for the communications and reveal of two park attractions for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.  First in 2010 with the reveal of Hogsmeade and then again in 2014 with the reveal of Diagon Valley.

They shared tips that they learned from their first “ride” with the reveal of Hogsmeade in 2010 including authenticity is essential, the success and limitations of a multi-tactic buzz campaign, and to tease & tell their story to all audiences – media, fan base, corporate partners, television and more.

Some of the challenges they faced in the second “ride” – the reveal of Diagon Alley – included how to overcome a different theme-park location, the first-ever multi-park experience, and the new Hogwarts Express Connector.  Also, they were closing a long-time theme ride in order to create this new experience. Questions rose like, “How would they engage media to join them again?” and “How would they personally and professionally prepare for the journey?”

Throughout the “ride” of the second reveal, the team experienced challenges like broken rides, injured staff members, equipment failures, staffing challenges, space limitations and more. In the end, the second reveal was a totally different experience. They incorporated things that they had learned from the first “ride” like limiting the number of tactics, phasing the reveal events out longer than one week, creating more high impact television opportunities, creating a dedicated social media engagement center to listen and engage in conversation in real time and more.

Attendees heard from top PR pros at Universal Orlando including a little dirty laundry, areas for improvement, and how to gear up for events that “are bigger than you are,” and asking others for help.  How will you prepare for the ride?

Tom Schroder


Tom Schroder is vice president, corporate communications,for Universal Orlando
Resort and Universal Parks & Resorts. He serves as the communication leader for
Universal Orlando’s ongoing media relations efforts, social media strategies, and crisis and issues communications. He also plays a leadership role in international PR and brand and reputational management for Universal Parks & Resorts’ global business. Schroder joined Universal Orlando in 1996 as a senior representative and has played the leadership role in some of the biggest public relations campaigns in Universal’s history – including the grand opening for The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Prior to Universal Orlando, Schroder held communications positions in various industries, including travel/tourism, banking and communications. He was also a print journalist. Schroder holds a bachelors degree in journalism from Hofstra University on Long Island, NY. He lives outside Orlando, Fla. with his wife and daughter.


Alyson Lundell is director, corporate communications for Universal Orlando Resort. A graduate of Florida State University and a PR practitioner for more than 15 years,
Lundell has spent the majority of her career in the tourism industry promoting central Florida’s major attractions. Her current role with Universal Orlando has involved attraction openings including TRANSFORMERS: The Ride – 3D and The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Hogsmeade which opened in 2010 followed by this year’s opening of The Wizarding World of Harry Potter — Diagon Alley. She’s also responsible for overseeing publicity efforts around Universal’s annual events, including Mardi Gras and Halloween Horror Nights. Her sons, Cooper and Holden,believe that their mom goes to work every day with Spider-Man, Captain America, and Gru and the adorable minions.


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