[Convention] Riddikulus! Disappointment in Scotland at The School of Witchcraft & Wizardry Event

When a convention starts deleting comments and reviews, that gets my attention. Deleting comments and reviews made by trolls, containing inappropriate language, or those divulging personal information is completely acceptable. However, deleting any and all negative comments or reviews related to your page shows that you might have something to hide.

One such convention was held in Scotland over the weekend of August 3rd. The School of Witchcraft & Wizardry, hosted by For the Love of Fantasy, was a Harry Potter-themed event held in Musselburgh, Midlothian, about 10 miles (16 km) outside of Edinburgh.

Harry Potter has a very avid fan following, so when there is almost any event related to the genre, people start watching it.  When things go wrong at the event, people notice.

SUMMARY

Cons

  • All negative comments and posts on social media were deleted, though some are being left now
  • Food and water were apparently (edited Aug 9, 2018 6:54 am CST -previously stated was ) confiscated when people walked in on Friday morning, but later in the day they were allowing the food and beverage to be brought on-site. Which meant that those who had brought food earlier in the day for the “picnic area” were now out food and beverages, but also money as they had to purchase those on-site. (updated  Aug 9, 2018 6:54 am CST ).  The organizers are telling us “food was never confiscated at any point Liquids were a security breach due to recent acid attacks. “
  • Emails went unanswered
  • Public stage shows not appropriate for young children
  • Bounce houses apparently charged on Friday and were free Saturday and Sunday.
  • No show programs or easily available schedule
  • Tickets for grounds included platform 9 3/4, as did the school tickets. Platform 9 3/4 was only found within the school.
  • Disabled access was limited because of location and age of the facility
  • People paid extra for ‘school’ tickets to get access to the celebrities, but were then disappointed when people that paid ‘ground’ also got access to the celebrities when they came out of the school. There was nothing else in the school worth the extra price.

Pros

  • Good guest line-up
  • Delivered most of what was promised
  • Beautiful location
  • Several good vendors

The Event

For the Love of Fantasy FB Cover

The event sounded spectacular. It was listed as “…a fun packed three days of props & exhibits, guest signers, photo opportunities, Q&A sessions, cosplay, merchandise stalls, gaming, musical entertainment, kids entertainment & much more.”

The general entry (ground) tickets gained you “…entry to the acres of land that surround the school. Within the grounds 80% of the event activities will take place and will be included in the price of the general entry ground ticket. There will be a marquee housing traders, artists, workshops, etc. In the garden areas there will be a picnic area, quidditch games, wand duels, giant prop builds including the Weasley family car, platform 9 3/4 and HoneyDukes sweet shop, a live stage with things such as cosplay competitions and live Q&A’s with guests from the films, food courts, cosplay groups, and much more …”

The school tickets got you a “meet and greet with 10 of our confirmed special guests with selfie opportunity. Other attractions include Animatronic Dobby and Sorting Hat, Dark Arts Classes with Special Guests, Platform 9 3/4, The Great Hall and more to be confirmed.”

The special guests list was pretty good. It included Michael Henbury, Josh Herdman, Chris Rankin, Stanislav Ianevski (Stanislav Yanevski), Hugh Mitchell, Jon Campling, Tolga Safer, Rohan Gotobed, Louis Cordice, and Sean Biggerstaff.

The big problem with the guests were, as far as I can tell, they were housed in at least three separate locations, with a minimum of twenty minutes between locations, and some of the guests had to secure their own transport on Monday
(edited Aug 8, 2018 6:55 pm CST – originally stated Sunday).

Des O'Gorman

Their stage host was Des O’Gorman. There have been several comments about a few inappropriate jokes on stage during his time on Friday and he was seen having an argument with one of the organizers at the end of the day. However, only one of the of the inappropriate comments can be directly attributed to him.

There were two stage productions: “Pottervision” is rated as a 16+ show by Fringe and “Voldemort and the Teenage Hogwarts” is rated as a “14 and above (14+)(Mildly adult content, strong language.)” show by Fringe. These shows are where the majority of the inappropriate comments came from.

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Des was replaced for Saturday and Sunday by a female, who I have not yet identified. Comments have stated that she was unenthusiastic and did not seem familiar with the world of Harry Potter.

Promises Made

The website showed some promising activities and attractions.

What they got was a little bit different.

They did deliver what was promised. The problem is that you expect these to be just the highlights of the event, not the only parts of the event. To be honest, there was a little bit more to the event.

One big complaint I have heard from almost everyone was the lack of a program.

For the Love of Fantasy promised schedule

There was a schedule posted on Facebook on August 1, however that seems to be the only place and time it was available.

There were no programs on-site.

Reviews

If you go to the Facebook or Event page, you will see a lot of happy people. But not everyone is happy, particularly those that attended on Friday and when they complained, they found that their reviews and comments were deleted.

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Another group of unhappy people were those who had booked trips exclusively for this event.

Thorne Travel

I did reach out to Thorne Travel and they simply asked me to contact the event organizers, as they were the ones in charge of the event.

I have reached out to For The Love of Fantasy twice, and not gotten a response.

It’s not often we get full, well-written reviews sent to us, but here is one:

This event which was based on Harry Potter, ran from August 3rd to August 5th in Musselburgh which is marketed as Edinburgh, however it’s not actually in Edinburgh. It just so happens I have a holiday caravan (or trailer as you call it) just along the coast, got there by car in 10 minutes. So we decided to stay over from 2nd to 4th as it’s only 50 miles from home.

Firstly I had two 12 year old Asperger’s boys, (my grandson and his friend) and two neurotypical 15 year old girls, my nieces.

I am disabled and already knew that parking could be a problem and the two boys have problems with walking too far as they have medical problems with their feet. So we had to park a couple of blocks away and walk.

On entry we were searched to make sure we had no contraband, I.e food and drink (as they sell that inside I presume) Given it was such a warm day, drinks should’ve been a must! Then later on in the day they changed it to allowing food, drink and picnics! .

We walked up the drive to the school which was slightly “Hogwartish”. The “flying” car was parked on the grass in front of the entrance to the school. At this stage I must point out that when I bought tickets they were for grounds only as they hadn’t issued tickets to go inside the school until a couple of months after. The grounds tickets were £13.50 each and the school was £40 each for one hour time slots when they were issued. (It also came on itison for £24 for entry to grounds AND school combined, around 10 days prior to the event!!). I had a look at what was on in the school and it was only meet and greet and have pictures and autographs done for another £10 each! The “cast” inside the school were people who were hardly seen apart from Victor Krum, he was the only one people knew who he was.

I saw some videos of inside the school afterwards and was so glad I didn’t waste my money. A massive crowd of people waiting in line with a woman standing in the corner of the staircase holding a picture frame around her face and screeching… Enough to drive anyone crazy, especially waiting for so long and being subjected to it.

On to the grounds; on entry to the grounds there was a massive marquee. This was where the”con” stalls were and there were a LOT of stalls. It was extremely warm outside so you could imagine the inside, very hot, sticky and smelled of severe b.o. I checked the temp on a thermometer I carry with me. It was 42° in there… No air and certainly not healthy. My two aspies were becoming slightly overwhelmed so after a double tour round. We had to leave. (Thank goodness I thought, although very surprised they even did any rounds considering the amount of people it)

The prices were worse than any a comic con I’ve been to and I’ve been to a few. For instance the Harry Potter back pack I had with me was from a local store called Primark, I bought it in the sale the day before for £5, it was being sold on the stalls for a minimum of £25!! Identical in every way. And that seemed to be the precedent for pricing inside, a lot of the H.P items were items available for a fraction of the price in Primark.

Outside the marquee, there were 3 bouncy castles and loads of things for small children, nothing for the teens who are more into Harry Potter. And an extremely fake looking Hagrid on stilts outside Hagrid’s papier mache hut.

There was a main stage where they held various events like the cosplay which was farcical. There was a fellow there who had went all out as Snape and as he approached us on the way to the cosplay, you could have believed it was him, my grandsons friend did a spell at him and he turned and threw one straight back! (my grandson did take the opportunity to inform us that actor is dead now!). The actual winners were two Rita Skeeters, who were ok but the Snape was the obvious winner. I think there was something wrong there as did plenty of other people.

They had “unicorns” again for small children… Small white ponies with a very obvious looking fake horn. Also a “Quidditch” area, again the little kids who basically had some sparse looking broomsticks chasing a ball about and kicking it through 3 rings, no snitch, no bludgers etc!

The girls had split from me and the boys to do their thing and they were bored after half an hour and extremely disappointed as they’re proper Potter Heads!!

There was also a tent outside with owls, you could have your picture taken for a price of course, holding an owl and they had a snowy which the young kids all wanted their picture taken with, I felt so sorry for it.

Loads of food and drink stalls of you were mad enough to pay the prices.

We left the grounds and walked half a block down to a cafe I know there and fed 5 people for £21! When we went back I had a look at the pricing of the food stalls and it would have cost around £65!

I feel sad for the people who don’t know the area and what is around them as they must have spent an absolute fortune on it.

We only went back as my grandson and his friend had their eyes on a couple of figures which were actually cheaper than the Harry potter shops in Edinburgh.

All in all we were there for around 2 hours. That was it.

I felt it was a half hearted effort put on by amateurs aimed at small children and a massive money pit! Who shows an under 5 year old the whole series of H.P? I showed my grandson most of them but at an age each time where I felt he could handle it and understand it as it gets quite dark come the deathly hallows, which he really bigger me to see when he was 10. He did love it, but I felt it was a bit frightening for a child, so why aim a con like this at children???

They’re already advertising for end of July next year, I think we’ll give it a miss!!

I hope this review addresses the whole scenario. As it goes for pro’s and cons… The pro was a day out, the cons were the great big con they called “For The Love of Fantasy, School of Witchcraft and Wizardry!!”

Kind regards, Susan Miller

(updated Aug 9, 2018 5:54 am CST).
On Thursday, August 9 Artenfall wrote a blog post review of the event. It is in French, but this is the summary she gave me:

Concerning the event, I liked the School part, but only because the actors were there.
They took the time with each of us and allow us to do specific poses. Thanks to this I had the picture that I wanted with Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley).

For the “negative” part, I thought that the ground part itself was very poor. Some games, a tiny Quidditch stuff, a Harry Potter shop , Hagrid’s hut and some foodtrucks. The only interested part in it was the stage where childs can have defense against the dark arts classes and who had the Q&A with the actors 1h before the end of the event.

I think that the fact food and drinks were forbidden was a shame, I mean I wasn’t affected as I can restrain myself but imagine those families who have kids ? They forced them to pay for food and drinks !

There is a lot more detail in the post itself and some great pictures.

(updated Aug 10, 2018 7:09 am CST).

The reviews keep coming in, so we’ll keep putting them up.

To start for a family day out it was very expensive to book tickets as to book everything would have cost a little under £200. We booked just the outside area at £52.80 for 2 adults & 2 Children.

The synopsis for the event in March looked fantastic and had a lot of elements we were very happy about – Platform 9&3/4, Berty Botts Sweet Shop & getting a glass of Butter Beer. These are all elements that feature within the films in different scenes & films we liked. Also there was to be a Calm Dome for anyone who found they needed some time out. With a child with autism this was important to know. Turned out it was just a corner of a garden in the field which no one we asked seemed to know anything about. Their was also to be a Unicorn Cosplay which our 10 year old was super excited about as this is her favourite animal and was sure that this time she would get one for real! Little did we know we passed this type of Unicorn every morning on the school drop off!! A Shetland Pony with a cone on its head hardly passes for a Unicorn im afraid. We have seen Alpacas do better impressions.

On arrival we were practically strip searched and it was hailed loudly that we had “contraband“! Whilst the rest of the muggles looked on, our contraband was efficiently removed from our M&S lunch bag. We had been caught, dear Watson! They had found our bottle of sparkling water & 3 Lipton’s ice tea (all sealed) we were told we could take water in but DEFINITELY NOT THE ICE TEA!!! It was restricted due to licensing laws, could have anything in it You see. Seriously, the only thing Liptons should be quizzed on is how they make the peach one so amazing! So with the ice tea debacle behind us (and a few folk slipping through the net with their ”contraband“ due to the crowd around us – ah yes, I saw you lady with the rather large trespass backpack)it was onwards and upwards.

There was a car sitting in the middle of a grass area that we took to be the flying one out of The Chamber of Secrets. Either that or some real bad parking more the likes! The school was behind that AND apparently Platform 9&3/4. We saw the school but no platform but have since been told very matter of fact by For The Love of Fantasy customer service representative that this is where it was. Moving along there was a story corner in in the midst of a fable or two and then, as we made our way through the folk leaving, we saw it. The field that would hold all the Hogwart goodies. All our movie watching and telling the kids to be quiet so we heard it word for word, finally we were about to enter………… so it was not anything like a sight resembling Hogwarts! In front of us was – a large white marquee, a couple bouncy castle items, a few stalls and the rest was burger vans! The 10 year old turns and says – “well this is disappointing, it’s not like it was described at all”. We had a look around, went into the marquee which was jam packed with, EVERYONE, I think as there was nothing really to do unless you were 4 yrs old. There in the corner was a traders stall, one selling Original Harry Potter Berty Bots Sweets and another selling bottles of Butter Beer. So there was no actual mock up of these two iconic businesses – NO. It was actual traders selling there wholesale goods like the rest of the traders. How disappointing. There was a main stage with a man bellowing outfor the world to hear when in fact it was only the half dozen kids in front he was talking too. We decided to leave then. We had waited on the so called shetlandcorns but they were running or should I say walking late so after a whole 1 hour and 17 minutes we left. All in all it was too expensive, for a very young audience, low budget and you have basically paid to get into a field where really you had to then pay for anything worth while! Absolutely shocking! We went to a second hand shop, spent about and hour in there and had a fabulous time! Don’t book with For The Love of Fantasy, they are rude, take no notice of your complaint And try to make you feel like and idiot. First time and last time. Have asked for my money back but the have not commented on that so far.

– Louise Guild

PopCultHQ has not written any of these reviews, we only asked people to send us their opinions regarding the event. These are opinions, and whether we agree with their opinions or not, we feel that everyone has the right to voice an opinion. The only opinions we will not listen to (by our own choice and opinion) are those with excessive vulgarity or discrimination.

The majority we contacted for this event were those who complained of deleted comments and reviews. We also contacted several who did not voice a complaint. Our general approach to everyone was as neutral as possible to simply ask opinions. We’ve been accused of otherwise so here are screenshots of a few of my many approaches. If you wish to see the opinions of others regarding this event, please read the Facebook thread associated with our original posting of this article.

 

1 Comment

  1. This is the same team behind the Comic Con Scotland event being planned for Remembrance Weekend in Edinburgh. This does not fill me with anything approaching confidence.

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