Over the weekend of April 3rd through 5th, Harry Potter fanatics and Twi-hards ambushed the Holiday Inn on International Drive in Orlando, Florida, to celebrate their love of two massively successful book franchises. I was there on hand to witness.
Acciocon (Accio being the spell used by Harry Potter to secure his Firebolt broom during the first task in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) is a convention by fans for fans. The main focus of the convention was all things related to Harry Potter, and in this instance, the Twilight Saga as well. Guests included actors from the Twilight film, Kellan Lutz (Emmett Cullen) and Gil Birmingham (Billy Black). Among the expected autographs and photo ops, the convention offered several unique events. These ranged from a replicated “Forks High School Prom”, to live concerts performed by those who write songs based on the world of Harry Potter (known as “Wizard Rock”). Saturday night even had a rave called “The Twilight Zone”, with a live performance by “House of Black.”
I was only able to attend this convention on Saturday and Sunday, so I missed the opening ceremonies, several debate panels (Harry Potter vs Twilight), and the prom. Saturday saw a large surge of one-day attendees. Most stood in line for several hours for an autograph from one of the celebrities, a photo with them, and to have said photo printed out. Often I would walk down the hall and see the same faces in line, all of which excited to meet the celebrities, but not as happy about being in line for so long. Afterwards, I spoke with several attendees who stated that it was worth it, as the guests were absolutely wonderful and friendly. However, they acknowledged that the line system was taking away from their enjoying other aspects of the convention.
As with any convention, there was a wide array of panels, all drawing from Harry Potter or Twilight as their inspiration. Though I did not attend the debate of “which is better”, I did hear that specific panel got out of hand to the point that it became more of a “yours sucks” affair. I found this notion odd, considering that if one were at this convention, it was likely they at least accepted one if not both of the series featured. It was refreshing to see humorous panels as well as serious, with the “If You Like Jacob We’ll Punch You in the Face!” panel, along with sessions discussing other aspects of entertainment careers.
Unlike most conventions, however, this one lacked greatly in costuming and cosplay. Though the staff were entirely dressed for the occasion (complete with full on performances!), most of the fans remained in t-shirts that proclaimed what they loved. Sunday’s costume contest only had five contestants, which was a surprise considering the amount of amazing costumes in the Harry Potter universe (and the irony that the Twilight costumes out numbered the Harry Potter ones). Either way, the few costumes that were worn at Acciocon were quite well done, and some were so good one might think they were stolen from the sets (i.e. a particularly good “Mad-Eye” Moody, for example)!
For a smaller convention, I was very impressed with the creativity shown in the dealer room. Aside from the standard weapons dealer and FYE (with the largest selection of Twilight merchindise I’ve ever seen), most of the tables were showcasing fan made work by local artists. The crafts ranged from paintings to custom made jewelry to original perfumes inspired by the characters of Twilight… I couldn’t believe the amount of interesting things to look at! It had the feeling of a craft fair, but with a twist of fandom.
Hiccups in communication and expectations caused much of the creativity in panels and events to be overshadowed by long lines for autographs. Hopefully, if Acciocon 2010 occurs, more will be done to allow the attendees time to enjoy the convention, and possibly allow the guests themselves to enjoy the convention too; the only time I ever saw Kellan was when he walked the dealer room prior to it being opened. Some of the best conventions are the ones where the guests are having just as much fun as the attendees.