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Who knew? Universal Studios Florida is car museum with an amusement park

Our weekly roundup of car museum news and notes


My 11-year-old granddaughter hates it when I refer to it as Harry Potterville, but early during my 75 Days of Summer fund-raising road trip, one of our stops — my granddaughter’s riding shotgun for the trip — was in Orlando, Florida, at Universal Studios.

We were in Orlando to watch another granddaughter and her teenage teammates play in the AAU National Junior Volleyball championships. Since both granddaughters are huge fans of the Harry Potter book and movie series, I was informed that we had to visit The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. 

Actually, there are two such worlds — Hogsmeade and Diagon Alley — in separate parts of the studio grounds. Fortunately, you can ride the Hogswart’s Express train between them.

While I know pretty much nothing about Potter or his stories, I used to live in Michigan, where there is a town called Potterville, and thus my distasteful (to my granddaughter) reference to visiting Harry Potterville. (Bob Golfen also notes that Potterville was the evil alternative town of George Bailey’s nightmare in It’s a Wonderful Life.) 

1941 Chevrolet Master Deluxe
1952 Pontiac Chieftain

Two points I need to make: I really enjoyed the visit, marveled at the detail and architecture of the Potter places, and I was surprised that one of the first things I saw upon arrival at Universal was a 1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe parked in front of a Christmas shop on a New York set street. 

I was even more surprised several paces later to encounter more collector vehicles parked around Mel’s Drive-In as part of the Hollywood section.

Those cars appeared to have been driven off the screen of American Graffiti and included a 1932 Deuce Coupe and couple of ‘50s Chevys, a ‘50s Thunderbird and a ’59 Edsel, with a ’55 Crown Vic and a flamed ’52 Pontiac Chieftain just down the block.

Hey, turns out this place isn’t just for kids or TV and movie fans. 

Indeed, there’s a ‘Fast ‘n Furious’ section with cars, some sort of futuristic vehicle in the Marvel area, more vehicles being chased by dinosaurs in Jurassic Park and, in Potterville, a triple-decker London bus as well as a motorcycle and sidecar — turns out it was ridden in the movie by Rubeus Hagrid, a hairy half-giant wizard and professor, and you can sit in it for photos or, for the daring, you can ride the Hagrid’s Magical Creatures Motorbike Adventure rollercoaster.

I’m informed there was another vehicle featured in the Potter movies, a flying Ford Anglia, modified to hold 8 people, 6 trunks, 2 owls and a rat. I was hoping to see it during the visit, but if it was there, I didn’t find it.

Turns out, my granddaughter tells me, that the car could disappear. So perhaps it was there in Potterville the whole time, but with its invisibility booster engaged.

Corvette museum anniversary set

Registration has opened for the 27th anniversary celebration of the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. The celebration is scheduled for September 2-4 and will include road tours, video presentations, and activities yet to be announced. For details, visit the museum website.

Corvettes at Nashville science museum

The National Corvette Museum has collaborated with the Adventure Science Center in Nashville, Tennessee, where the center’s 75th anniversary celebration will include seven Corvettes displaying the evolution of the sports car. The Car Culture showcase runs August 28 through November 28 and will include other car-centered events.

Mustang museum doing road trip

The Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, is organizing a road trip to the Woodward Dream Cruise in the northern Detroit suburbs. Cars will gather in Dayton, Ohio, on August 17, visit the Gale Halderman Museum, and then head to Dearborn, Michigan. 

In addition to the Dream Cruise, the group will visit the Model T Piquette museum, Henry Ford’s Fairlane estate, the Roush museum, The Henry Ford Museum, and join the Mustang Owner’s Club of Southeastern Michigan on a road tour. 

AACA sets ‘Night at the Museum’

The AACA Museum in Hershey, Pennsylvania, resumes its annual “Night at the Museum” fundraiser on October 6 with a theme of “Cars and Country Music.” Troy Engle and Southern Skies will perform at an event that also will be the kickoff to “Fall Hershey.”

Classics & Coffee at Mercedes museum

“Classics & Coffee” car shows have resumed at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Germany with Thursdays after work and Sunday showcases each week. In addition, “A Star among the Stars” events are held Friday evenings but are for Mercedes vehicles only; the other events are open to all brands.

Special events this weekend

Night to Remember performs June 24 at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automobile Museums free summer concert series in northeastern Indiana.  Subsequent performances are scheduled July 29 by the Hubie Ashcraft Band, August 26 by Big Caddy Daddy and September 23 by Whoa! Man.

Van Halen 2, a tribute band, will perform at 8 p.m. on June 25 on the Gilmore Car Museum campus in Hickory Corners, Michigan. Funds from the $20 admission charge go toward K-12 educational tours of the museum and the Gilmore Garage Works high school training program.

The North East Motor Sports Museum in Loudon, New Hampshire, hosts the Nor-Eastern Pontiac Club for an outdoor car show on June 26.

The Miles through Time museum in Clarkesville, Georgia, hosts its fifth annual car show at the Old Clarkesville Mill from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on June 26. 

June 26 is Family Day at the Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, with free rides in vintage vehicles, $1 hot dogs and other family friendly events. 

The California Automobile Museum in Sacramento hosts a modified Honda Accord show from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. on June 26, with more than 50 cars expected.

Autobooks-Aerobooks in Burbank, California, features author John Zimmermann and Lost in Time: Formula 5000 in North America, from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. on June 26.

LeMay – America’s Car Museum in Tacoma, Washington, launches a new exhibition, “Alfa Romeo: Born from Passion” with a brunch with Italian Flair from 9 a.m. until 11 a.m. on June 26. 

Mark your calendar

Due to construction, the exhibit space at the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky, will be closed for the day June 29. However, the museum said cars will be on display in the conference center and the Corvette Store will remain open.

July 3 is National Fox Body Day at the Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina, with a special car show featuring the Fox body-generation of Ford’s pony car.

It’s Muscles & Mojo from 8 a.m. until 10 a.m. July 4 at the Murphy Auto Museum in Oxnard, California. These cruise-ins are staged the first and third Sunday monthly.

The Gilmore Car Museum in Hickory Corners, Michigan, plans another of its live concerts for 8 p.m. on July 10 featuring The Spazmatics, billed as the “ultimate ‘80s tribute band.” Unlike other such events at the museum, this will be a “walk-in” concert with visitors asked to bring folding chairs or blankets for the event.

Mach I and Boss 302, 351 and 429 Ford Mustangs will be featured July 10 in a car show at the Mustang Owner’s Museum in Concord, North Carolina.

The British Motor Museum at Gaydon hosts the BMC & Leyland Show on July 11, a gathering of British Motor Corporation, British Leyland and Rover Group vehicles. Celebrated this year are the 50th anniversary of the Morris Marina, a Historic Rally Display by the Historic Marathon Rally Group and the Mini Cooper Register, and a display of emergency service vehicles.

It’s “Simply Vauxhall” on July 17 at the National Motor Museum in Beaulieu, UK, where Vauxhall vehicles will gather for a show. The following day, the museum hosts its “Simply Ford” showcase.

The inaugural North East Motor Sports Museum rally-tour Around the Lake is scheduled for July 31. The event begins at the museum in Loudon, New Hampshire, and will take scenic roads to the Vintage Racing Stables car collection in Sanbornton. The event is limited to 1972 or earlier vehicles.

With so many events canceled in 2020, the British Motor Museum at Gaydon will turn the Gaydon Land Rover Show scheduled for July 31-August 1 into the 50th-plus-one anniversary for the off-road automaker. “We’re looking forward to having a belated birthday celebration,” said show manager Tom Caren.

Does your local car museum have special events or exhibitions planned? Let us know. Email [email protected]

Larry Edsall
Larry Edsall
A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at ClassicCars.com, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.


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