MAGAZINE

19 Scenes of Weird and Wonderful Wizardry from Wizard U 2018

Photo by: Ben Kaye
by Ben Kaye | @Idonttwit Fri February 09, 2018 | 10:25 AM

It's every young wizard's dream to get an invitation to Hogwarts. So when the team behind PotterCon announced that they'd be bringing Wizard U to New York City's Irving Plaza, tickets were snatched up like Hedwig feeding on frogs. Unfortunately, though all the concepts for a joyful and nerdy celebration of Potter love were in place, the actual event turned out to lack the magic of a fully gratifying wizarding experience. But in the end, to the victors belonged the spoils. 

It might actually all have come down to capacity problems. The sold-out event filled Irving Plaza's two floors, but there weren't enough activations to keep the crowd consistently occupied and entertained. The line for the wand-making table, for example, stretched back towards the crowded upper bar, a situation that only exaggerated the wait for an activity that already took quite some time. Though the space was packed from the start, it was clear that attendees were losing interest by the time the rather dull stage magician came on to teach Transfiguration; at that point, it seemed the venue was only half full.

Which actually led to more enjoyment for all. Folks were able to get their palms or tea leaves read by two diviners, or purchase essential oil mixtures made by a pair of potion masters. As they sipped on Butter Beer (vanilla vodka, butterscotch Schnapps, cream soda, topped with whipped cream), First Years competed in Quidditch Pong. Perhaps nothing was more amusing than facing off in a wand duel (essentially a Rock-paper-scissors version of spell casting), and eventually working your way through the ranks to challenge the best of the best in the Dueling Championships. Participating in different experiences earned you gems that you could hand out like house points to Glotenmore, Nerd Bird, Snakehole, or Puffer Pal (trademarks, amirite?), with the winning house representing a charity to which all the proceeds would be donated.

When you're a super fan, there's nothing more fun than geeking out will fellow aficionados. While not everyone found Wizard U to be their favorite flavor of Bertie Bott's Beans, the event wasn't a complete squib. There was plenty of magic to be had, as you can see in the glowing faces of the Wizarding faithful below.

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Quidditch Pong - Photo by: Ben Kaye 

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Photo by: Ben Kaye

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"Expelliarmus! It leaves them defenseless!" - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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Wizard Duels for the Nerd Birds winners - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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First Years had the chance to build their own wands - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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Butter Beer! - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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The head of House Snakehole gets his students ready to duel - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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Knight to Corona 2 - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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Representing House Slytherin… er, Snakehole - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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 Class pictures - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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"You have a bright future -- in the light of a policeman's flashlight, so it seems." - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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In Potions Class, students could get their own unique essential oils mixtures - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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Muggle Studies class, aka Drunk Wizarding History - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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Even alums returned to show the First Years how to handle a wand - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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"Avada Kedavra!"- Photo by: Ben Kaye

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"1… 2… 3… TURN!" - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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The Dueling Championships - Photo by: Ben Kaye

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Photo by: Ben Kaye

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"Stupefy!" - Photo by: Ben Kaye