For the eighteenth year in a row Wizard World convention chain returned to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania this May 17th through May 20th. The guest list was packed with A-list stars, and plenty of programming kept guests excited and engaged the entire weekend. From photo ops to karaoke to vendors booths and more, we covered the whole thing!
Wizard World Philadelphia was held at the enormous Pennsylvania Convention Center, right across the street from the famous Reading Terminal Market in downtown Philadelphia. The con was split across three levels of the building, with registration and rooms for smaller panels on the bottom level, the main vendor and event floor on the second level, and the Terrace Ballroom – which housed the larger celebrity panels and the cosplay contest – on the top level.
It was nearly impossible to cover every bit of the available convention space, even in multiple days, though the large expanse of open areas gave attendees plenty of space to rest and recover from long hours of walking the floor. Wizard World was housed in only a small part of the massive convention center, but several open, unused areas were available for cosplayers, photographers, and other con-goers to rest their feet or make phone calls where the din of the crowd wasn’t as deafening. Additionally, separating the panels from the general con floor and putting them on separate levels made the experiences much more relaxing, putting them at a different pace from the high energy of the vendor floor.
The Guest List
Wizard World Philadelphia featured some spectacular celebrity guests, including headliners Sebastian Stan (Captain America: The Winter Soldier), Jason Momoa (Aquaman/Stargate: Atlantis), and Natalie Dormer (Game of Thrones), as well as Joonas Suotamo (Star Wars), Karl Urban (Star Trek/Dredd), Sean Bean (Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones), and Matt Ryan (Constantine). Saturday saw guests lining up practically to the con floor entrance for photo ops with the various celebrities, but Celebrity Row gave passers-by an opportunity to glimpse a view at their favorite celebrities, or even get their autograph! (This writer may have spent an exorbitant amount of time staring at Ezra Miller while waiting for crowds to thin out.)
Some guests also had their own panels that were open to all attendees. Sean Bean’s panel, “1001 Ways to Die”, gave audiences a chance to delve into Bean’s long, storied career, and fans at Sebastian Stan’s packed panel welcomed him to the stage by chanting the “Yibambe!” war chant from Avengers: Infinity War. Each panel was unique, with great experiences at each one, whether it be dancing onstage with Ray Fisher and Ezra Miller, or Sebastian Stan receiving an award for “World’s Greatest Memelord” from a fan.
In addition to the larger celebrity panels held in the Terrace Ballroom, some celebrities also had smaller panels hosted in rooms on the ground floor of the convention center. Matt Ryan talked Constantine and working with the Legends of Tomorrow with a small group of dedicated, enthusiastic fans, and Henry Winkler had his own conversational panel on Friday where he discussed his long, hard road to stardom and the insights that he’s learned along the way.
But the panels featured most than just celebrities. There were also several panels hosted by comic book artists, writers, Twitch streamers, and others on every nerdy subject imaginable. Fans hosted panels discussing recent movie trailers and their thoughts on it, and the hosts of the Everything is Awesome podcast discussed the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Wizard World proved excellent at providing fan-created panel content for visitors to partake in, and the panelists were fabulous and fun. There were also panel workshops available, featuring Introduction to Worbla workshops with cosplay guests and drawing tutorials with comic book artists, giving attendees an opportunity to learn from the best.
A large variety of cosplayers showed up to Wizard World in their best attire. Many Captain Americas, Winter Soldiers, and Daenerys Targaryens were present, as Jason Momoa and Sebastian Stan were featured guests, but plenty of other cosplayers came out to play, and the effort put into each and every costume present was spectacular. To see the full range of cosplayers and fandoms represented at the con, you can check out our cosplay gallery.
The convention also highlighted Shield Labs, who make handcrafted replica props for display and cosplay, including Captain America’s shield and Thor’s hammer. They even had a challenge at their booth – pay a dollar to see if you were worthy enough to lift Thor’s hammer, which in reality was a steel case replica filled with lead!
The Con Floor
Plenty of activity was buzzing the entire weekend at Wizard World, and there was definitely something for everybody. The mainstage was kicking from the moment the floor open to the second it closed, featuring live bands, fan karaoke, a children’s cosplay contest, and more. The weekend’s emcee was lively and engaging, and tried his hardest to put a smile on everybody’s faces as they walked under the banner and onto the floor.
In addition to the mainstage entertainment, the entire vendor floor was an experience of its own. Each booth held something unique and special, from art commissions to custom car decals to jars of black dust with “Bucky” on the label. (Too soon? Maybe too soon.) Artist Drew Blank sold hilarious fake album covers for films ranging from Jurassic Park to The Birdcage, and Taped Off TV featured stencils of everybody’s favorite 80s favorites. The range of talents and items being sold was unimaginable, and there was certainly something for everybody.
Wizard World certainly lives up to the hype that exists around it. Not a single aspect of the convention disappointed, and it was an excellent con to attend for those who had never been to a larger event like this. The guests were lively, engaging, and excited to be there, and the vendors were as well. Everything was well organized and spaced out so that nothing felt too crowded, and workers and volunteers worked hard to keep the excited energy up all day throughout the four-day weekend.
The convention chain will not be returning to Philadelphia anytime soon, but they travel across the country year-round, so if you’re interested in attending, you can check out Wizard World’s website for more information on locations, dates, and more!
Did you attend this convention? What did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below!