Off to See the Wizard World of Portland

Last month, I had the opportunity to attend my first Wizard World convention in Portland with my friend Christina of UrbanFlower Designs. Having previously heard some of Robin’s adventures at both Wizard World St. Louis and Wizard World Nashville, I was already pretty ecstatic even before Christina and I hit the road Friday morning to make the drive from Seattle to Portland. The three hour journey passed by in no time as we bonded over mutual fandoms and geeky music. We also discussed who we were most excited to see at con: for me it was Tyler Posey, Ksenia Solo, Karl Urban, and Ming-Na Wen.

Once we arrived at the convention, we opted to take it easy. Friday was a short day anyway and neither of us had gotten much sleep the night before. I had decided to forgo cosplay that weekend in favor of my favorite geeky dresses but Christina brought a different cosplay for all three days. For day one, she went with her “casual” Tenth Doctor cosplay, which was a big hit, especially since she had borrowed a rather realistic looking banana from her kids’ plastic play food set. We even ran into my friend Pixie in her Rose Tyler cosplay, who was simply delighted to no end. She finally broke her curse of not having a Ten to take photos with as Rose, which had lasted something like five conventions. It was pretty cute she actually noticed Christina in her Ten outfit before realizing I was even there.

After taking a few photos and walking the exhibitor’s hall together for a bit, we decided to go check out the Doctor Who Celebration panel. I’ve got to say it was one of the best Who panels I’ve been to. There was fun and engaging conversation on the direction the show is going in, with a focus on Peter Capaldi as our latest beloved Doctor. The panelists did an excellent job of engaging with the audience and standing strong on their opinions without stepping on toes with anyone that didn’t share their opinion. There were even trivia questions with some great Whovian prizes! Christina won a companion ring and Capaldi pin.

After the panel, we continued to walk around and mingle with friends. It’s always great to see friends at con, especially ones I don’t get a chance to visit very often. I was particularly excited to finally see Ryan Wells in his Mars Attacks cosplay and for the debut of Abi Sue Cosplay, Jerikanda Cosplay, Abie Ekenezar, and CIR Carving in their Emma Frost cosplays, whom I quickly dubbed the Flock of Emmas (complete with ridiculous Flock of Seagulls impression). They definitely had some of my favorite cosplays, along with a few other highlights of day one that included a really adorable and Bubbly Tinkerbell, an Animaniacs group, and Jessica Merizan in her Daria cosplay (oh, the nostalgia!)

Things wrapped up around 8pm and then I went to dinner with some local friends not attending the convention. I was pretty exhausted from lack of sleep the night prior, so I decided to turn in early and get a fresh start for the next day.

*****

Upon arrival on Saturday, I promptly ran into my buddy Aaron (Last Oryx), who had driven to Portland for the day just so he could see the Weta Workshop booth. By the time I ran into him, he was positively giddy: he’d gotten his Bilbo Baggins wig styled and Hobbit ears applied by one of the makeup artists there. He looked fantastic! I just wish I had been around to see the process. While we were chatting, the Game of Thrones meet up hosted by some members of Ice and Fire Cosplay was just ending and they made their way to us, including Christina in her beautiful Margaery Tyrell cosplay (wedding dress version).

Apparently, I had arrived just in time for the Weta panel, where makeup artist Warren Dion Smith would be answering questions while transforming a con attendee into a dwarf. Now, as I’m sure many of you probably know by now, I’m a bit of a Tolkien fan (okay maybe more than a bit). So, it almost goes without saying that by far one of the biggest highlights of the con for me was the Weta Workshop booth and panel. It was a wonderful experience to watch a talented artist as Warren change someone from an ordinary man into a fantastic dwarven warrior. He also had some really great stories to tell from being on various sets during his career. The whole thing was truly such a treat for us fans. After the panel was over, we all collectively decided to go visit the Weta booth again. I had seen it briefly the day before but hadn’t gotten to take it in as much as desired.

When you first enter the exhibitor’s hall from registration the giant orc of the Weta booth towers above you, it’s thoroughly impressive even if you’re not a Tolkien fan! As you walk further into the booth, you’re greeted with other props from the Tolkien films and other productions Weta has been a part of. I swear could have spent my whole weekend there but there was more con to see, so I managed to pry myself away after a good look around and several photos later.

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As one might anticipate, the Weta booth was a big attraction of the con and thus a great place to gather to find friends or to snap pictures of cosplayers on their way to/from the booth. It’s there that I ran into Ryan Wells again, this time in his Falkor cosplay from The NeverEnding Story. I had been watching his progress on this cosplay online and was thrilled to see it in person. Naturally, he and his Atreyu had quite a crowd around them so I couldn’t chat for long. After mingling a bit longer I headed outside with Aaron and Christina for some fresh air.

 

Before long, I was heading back inside for my photo op with Tyler Posey. Teen Wolf is one of my greatest guilty pleasures (can you even call it that when you have no shame about it?), so I was pretty excited. As I was stepping up for my photo, Tyler, in what I can only assume was a move to keep his energy up, threw his arms in the air and screamed “Yeah!” I was a little thrown off and by then the nervousness and excitement had all blended together and I couldn’t help but giggle. My expression is so fangirl-y and a bit dorky, but that’s okay because you can just tell how happy I am! Also, Tyler made an expression that is probably five times dorkier than mine and it’s positively adorable. That man is a treasure.

Earlier that day, my friend Brittany had offered me to join in her Karl Urban photo op to which I proclaimed a very enthusiastic “hell yes!” Between the two photo ops, I had just enough time to run over to Ksenia Solo’s table for an autograph. She’s even better in person than I anticipated. I absolutely adore her as Kenzi in Lost Girl, for me she practically carries the show. After that, it was back in line again with Brittany. We passed the time easily as we talked about our favorite roles Karl Urban has been in with a few others in line with us. Once it was our turn for a photo, Karl was very polite, greeting us with a big smile before saying hello and asking how we were doing. Not gonna lie, I definitely swooned a little as he told us to have a good day as we walked out. I think we all look really great in this photo op and it thrills me to no end. As a side note, it’s during photo ops like these that I really remember that I am so much freaking shorter than everyone else!

The photo op lines moved quickly, as these things always do, but unlike some cons it felt like a well-oiled machine not a frenzy. You go into these knowing your time with a guest will be brief but, depending on how a con runs their photo ops, sometimes you leave feeling cheated because you were rushed in the wrong ways (maybe the photographer didn’t give you a chance to smile or didn’t care if you blinked, or the line keepers were rude, etc). I didn’t get that feeling at all at Wizard World, which was pretty great. I was also impressed by how quickly the photos were available, by the time I left the booth my photo was waiting for me along a row a printers. Even better was their system for retrieving a digital copy of your photo, if you purchased one. Instead of giving someone your email, which can easily be keyed in wrong, you go to a website and enter the number on the bottom of your photo. Simple and very effective.

After a bit of walking around I headed towards where the costume contest and pre-contest concert by Critical Hit were held. The concert was very lovely. I always love when band/orchestra and geeky music combine! I was impressed with how well run the costume contest was run. Despite a late start, things went smoothly and it still ended on time, which is rare at any con. The judges for this year’s contest were the green Power Ranger, Jason David Frank, Jesse Lagers of Midnight Armor, Jessica Merizan of Crabcat Industries. Both Jesse and Jessica are also known for appearances on Syfy’s Heroes of Cosplay.

I’m glad I wasn’t one of the judges, there were so many great cosplays to choose from! Some of my favorite entries included Marvel’s Sif and Thor, Oz’s Wicked Witch, TMNT’s Shredder, and a Tank Girl with an actual tank (modified Power Wheels Jeep). Props to everyone for their hard work and congrats to the winners!

After the contest, I ended up at Red Robin with Jesse, Chin Chin, and Jessica and a few of their friends. A relaxing dinner after a hectic con day was just what everyone needed. Enjoying food and drinks with friends is always a great way to end your con day.

*****

Sunday was pretty low key. I had a bit of a late start to the day and by the time I arrived at the con, I was starving. I met up with Christina in her Minerva McGonagall cosplay. While I ate, she sent the word out to the rest of our friends in Harry Potter cosplay to meet up for a photo shoot. We all gathered outside for a quick, and slightly, chilly photo shoot. The brisk weather was worth it though; we got some absolutely fantastic photos.

I didn’t make it to any panels on Sunday, but I did get a chance to walk around snagging more pictures of cosplayers before saying goodbye to all my Oregon friends. A few of my favorites from the last day were Batwoman, Iron Man, and Steampunk Dory from Finding Nemo.

As we were about to head out, I wanted to make sure I had a chance to visit my favorite Marty McFly, HyperShadow Cosplay. She had spent the weekend at the Seattle Time Machine booth. We even got permission for a quick photo shoot with the DeLorean, which was an absolute joy for both of us.

*****

I thoroughly enjoyed Wizard World Portland. You sometimes hear about people complaining about how corporate or commercialized Wizard World cons are, but I don’t think that is a big deal. I didn’t feel slapped in the face with gimmick-y advertisements or that anyone was pushing too hard to sell me something. Wizard World is a seasoned traveling convention that has been able to hone their skills, like streamlining the photo ops for less wait time and many things behind the scenes I would imagine. In my opinion, It was a smooth and well run convention. Yes, the prices are a bit steeper than other cons, but because of it, they are able to afford more big name guests. I came to this con knowing it wasn’t going to have the same atheistic as smaller cons and I had a blast. I definitely look forward to covering more Wizard World conventions.

All included photography by Fearless Photoworks, with the exception of the celebrity photo-ops.