Harry Potter convention a (much) bigger deal than expected in Big D

DALLAS -- LeakyCon may sound like a plumbers convention, but it's actually the premier annual Harry Potter fan gathering in the world--and it took Dallas by storm this weekend!

"We expected from past data that it would be about a 3,000-person event over at the Hyatt," says Melissa Anelli, CEO of Mischief Management which produces the convention--or, in Potter-speak, the event's Minister for Magic.  "When we opened tickets, in a couple of hours those were gone.  So we pushed tickets to double that, to 6,000--still at the Hyatt--and then it just sold out so fast that we just shut everything down and started working with the [Kay Bailey Hutchison] convention center."

Good thing the building had an opening because a sold-out crowd of 18,000 ended up coming to the three-day event, with all of the tickets being snatched up within two days of being offered!  Not bad for an event that started in 2009 with a mere 700 attendees in Boston.

The convention offers the usual mix of panel discussions, merchandise booths, and celebrity meet-and-greets, but Anelli says the source material makes for a lot more.

"What really happens at LeakyCon is you find community.  You find people who are not just Harry Potter fans but are your specific type of Harry Potter fans, because the Harry Potter community is so big it has many factions within it."

"You can come and live in a fantasy world," adds Louis Cordice, who played Blaise Zabini in three of the Harry Potter films and made his third appearance at LeakyCon.  "You can make your dream into a reality.  Whether it be dressing up as a Slytherin, a Gryffindor; anything you want to be at LeakyCon, you can be it."

That dressing-up included some impressive cosplay by attendees.  Among them was Cathey McHam, who spent parts of five months creating an elaborate merperson costume for the event.

"We weren't even in the door two minutes [and people were asking], 'Can I take your picture?'  'Can I take your picture?'  I live for this.  I live for this!

"Being an adult in my 50s--59--I still love Harry Potter.  Everything about it!"

Even Cordice was impressed.

"Honestly, some of the stuff you see here is almost like walking back on set," he marveled.  "I was walking around and I saw a gentleman dressed as Professor Snape, and it was literally like seeing Alan Rickman again."

The convention was such a huge success it's already been re-booked in Dallas for 2019 in a larger part of the convention center so more people can attend.  Anelli says about a quarter of the tickets have already been sold, so don't delay if you plan on going.  Once they're gone, not even a magic wand will help you get in!