Hello Witches and Wizards! Lady Brittany here to give you a breakdown of what the very first Wizards Unite Fan Festival was like at White River State Park in Indianapolis this Labor Day weekend! For those who do not know, I am local to Indianapolis. Our local community here has most of our monthly Community Days for Pokemon GO and Harry Potter: Wizard’s Unite at White River State Park. If it isn’t in the park due to weather or events happening, we hold them in the Circle Center Mall. Needless to say, I am very familiar with our park and the city as a whole being local.
I had a general idea of what to expect having gone to the past two Pokemon GO Fests in Chicago, Illinois. That being said, Wizards Unite’s first Fan Fest was so much more than I expected! The organizers went above and beyond in so many ways and it really did feel like we were walking around the Wizarding World of Harry Potter!
The Park Decor and Magic
There were three lounges. The Greenhouse which also acted as the charging station for the event. Every plant in the Greenhouse was real which was such a nice touch! The Hogwarts School lounge, complete with floating candles and each sitting area felt like I was in my houses common room! The Dark Arts lounge was set up extremely similar, the difference being floating bottles, like a potion class instead of candles like the Hogwarts lounge. Both the Dark Arts and Hogwarts School lounges had furniture you would love to have in your home, as it was all extremely comfortable to sit in. The Care of Magical Creatures area did not have a lounge and felt like it maybe should have since the other three had something set up, however that area was much more of a long walking path so it was nice to get some distance on portkeys and some shade along the river as well!
The Niantic and Warner Brothers Games teams started setup on August 24, a week before the event. By the time Thursday rolled around, everything was setup except the Dark Arts area due to a concert taking place at that exact location that night. The entire Dark Arts area was set up on Friday. This included the area with the Threat Level Clock and you couldn’t tell the difference between what was set up ahead of time or the day before which was incredibly impressive! There was a lot of details and passion put into this event, to the point where we we almost missed a few hidden gems!
Foundables had been hidden throughout the park for you to take pictures with. Each section had Dragon Eggs to find as well. Care of Magical Creatures featured two sets of Acromantula Eggs. Magical Games and Sports featured Interdepartmental Memos and Golden Snitches hiding in the trees. Did you spot them? Hogwarts School section had the Dirigible Plum, Self Playing Harp, and Flying Keys. Dark Arts had two sets of Decoy Detonators as well as the Threat Level Clock and the stage being in the background. In the Concessions is where you could grab food and take pictures with a giant inflatable Niffler! You couldn’t walk anywhere without hearing Harry Potter music playing in the park, it was magical!
The entire team made sure that no matter where in the park you were, you felt like you were in the actual Wizarding World, and it was on point.
Special Quests and Rewards
This is something that I personally was looking forward to the most. We had the quest line posted here ahead of time for people to plan and I waited until the actual day of to experience the quests as I completed them in the game. This is something Pokemon GO does at GO Fest each year, so it was not a surprise to see them at Fan Fest for Wizards Unite. We had to work along side Charlie Weasley to track down the Dragons and return them.
The tasks were a nice balance of being challenging, but also being rewarding enough for us to want to complete them. The organizers did a terrific job of keeping you moving around the entire park and getting a little bit of everything available. It didn’t matter if you downloaded the game that week to play with friends or had started from day one, you could complete all the tasks anyhow.
Feedback and Final Thoughts
Honestly, I walked in expecting something very similar to Pokemon GO Fest and walked away completely shocked and in awe. Every detail for this event was better and more immersive in so many ways. The game as a whole is more about cooperation, community, and uniting together and this event just applied these elements perfectly. The music wass more calming and brought a lot of people back to their childhood with the first movies.
Everyone around you wanted to make sure you could find what you were looking for and complete your quests. A bunch of people were in cosplay and almost every person was wearing some kind of Harry Potter related outfit or t-shirt. Every staff member you walked by wanted to say hi and make sure you were having fun, they had people stationed at the Foundables to take pictures for you (how cool is that!?). They really made sure you had a great time and that if you needed help, you were able to easily get it.
The help desk never had a line from what I saw, which is great considering at Pokemon GO Fest, you usually had to wait to get help. The only thing we can think of to make the event better is some Butterbeer! Most people we asked around the park felt the same way and if the only request to make an event like this better is themed food and drink, then it was a complete success.
I am so proud Indianapolis hosted the first one and loved how involved our city got. And I know that if it comes back next year, more places will get involved and have some cool Harry Potter themed drinks and foods like we do when hosting Gen Con each year! What was your favorite part of Fan fest? If there is any feedback you would like us to pass along let us know!