Utah is known for many things: skiing, Mormons, mountains, archaic alcohol laws, national parks, and now, it would seem, geek conventions. Late last month we here at the Geekwave had the opportunity to check out Wizarding Dayz; a brand new con for practitioners of secret magicks and fans of the arcane.
Wizarding Dayz, while advertising a Harry Potter brand of wizardry, really seemed to fall closer to a smaller, more kid-friendly Comic Con. There were lots of Harry Potter themed vendors, cosplayers, and crafts; and also representatives from the Lord of the Rings, Disney, and (for reasons unknown) Star Wars communities.
Besides frantically trying not to tread on small children, you could preoccupy yourself with all kinds of wizardish fun. Vendors sold everything from hats and scarves to jewelry to full-sized war banners. You might stop by the crafting booths to make your own wand, some slime, or to bake a shrinky-dink. I only did the latter because children generally tend to make me uncomfortable. There were balloon artists, reptile handlers, sword fighters, and magicians. There were panels covering topics like the Great War’s influence on J.R.R. Tolkien, and how you can do all kinds of cool stuff with the science.
There were definitely some kinks which needed working out. You didn’t see the same level of hype as at other conventions, and it felt a little bit rushed. While Wizarding Dayz was a great convention for kids, there wasn’t much there for a gaggle of college students.
That being said, a young me would have loved it there. For a child interested in fantasy, Wizarding Dayz would be like stepping into wonderland. There were wands to be made, science to do, and treasure hunts to complete. Professional cosplayers were there to take pictures and sign autographs. There was a giant pirate ship that I wanted to play on, but couldn’t out of fear of stepping on a child.
Wizarding Dayz may need to find a way to pull in bigger crowds, but I still see the convention as a success. Sure, there’s a lot that probably needs to be done differently, but all of the families I saw there looked like they were having a great time. If it was the convention runners’ goal to make a fun wizarding environment for kids, then they definitely hit their mark. Despite my discomfort around children, I managed to have a great time with my team. Even if you don’t have kids, you should definitely check out Wizarding Dayz next time they come around.