Photo by Matt Huston
Jennifer Stasak Staff Writer
When I saw an Amazon Local Deal for two weekend passes to the Quidditch World Cup in Kissimmee, my first thought was: “Well, of course I have to go to this.” My second was: “Who in the world will agree to go with me?” Fortunately, I have been blessed with very nerdy friends in my life, many of whom also happen to be huge “Harry Potter” fanatics to boot. So, on April 13th, I traveled a half hour away to a local soccer park with my good friends Leah, Matt, and Lindsay in order to watch dozens of teams from all around the globe duke it out in Quidditch.
And it was AWESOME.
Photo by Matt Huston
None of us had ever seen Quidditch played before, so the World Cup was quite a treat. We all weren’t sure quite what to expect – I think we had all anticipated a lot more cosplay than there was… then again, it WAS about 90 degrees outside all day – but we knew one thing for certain: we were excited.
Since Leah and I arrived first, we decided to familiarize ourselves with Muggle Quidditch (thankfully, there was a sign posted as you walked into the fields which provided adequate instructions). What intrigued us most, however, was the concept of the Snitch being an actual person that the Seekers chase around the field. Our first match of the morning was to support our alma mater – University of Central Florida – in their game against Stanford. It was our first Quidditch match ever, and we struggled to follow the logistics of the game, but slowly began to piece together exactly what was happening on the field.
Photo by Jennifer Stasak
Once that match ended, we decided to make our rounds and check out as many Florida teams as possible. We cheered on the University of Florida Gators, where Gators fans we sat near were kind enough to explain exactly what was happening on the field, as were the Florida State University fans we sat next to during the match that followed.
At one point in the day, Leah leaned over to me and said: “I’m actually following this more than I follow any real sport!” And truly, by the time my friends Matt and Lindsay arrived, we were able to explain everything that was happening on the field throughout the remainder of the games. We enjoyed walking through the fields, eating at the snack carts, and relaxing during a magic show.
I honestly did not anticipate having as much fun and being as invested in the Quidditch World Cup as I was. The final match on Saturday that Leah and I attended was the second University of Florida match we watched that day. What amazed me, most of all, was that the fans cheering for the Gators were the same fans I had been around while watching college football. No, they were not the exact same people, of course. But they had the same passion, the same enjoyment of a sport, and the same spirit. Whether it was Quidditch or Gators football, these people were fans through and through. And that made watching the game even more fun.
Photo by Jennifer Stasak
If you get the opportunity to come to sunny Florida and attend the Quidditch World Cup next year, definitely do! It was much more than I anticipated it would be, and my only regret is that I was unable to attend on Sunday as well.
The most fun and intense match to watch was between a team from France and Bowling Green. The French players were crazy good (and also fiercely competitive, which made for a really awesome game for the spectators).
Bring sunscreen. Reapply sunscreen. Or, if you’re fortunate like we were, find a crepe cart to eat lunch at and then perhaps the cashier will offer you use of his sunscreen. Still, bring sunscreen. (Can you tell I got badly burnt?)
Aforementioned crepe cart was where I got a Monte Cristo crepe and it may or may not rank as one of the yummiest things ever.
Make sure to select which matches you want to see so that you know what times they start and which fields they are on. In fact, bring that handy little map or the schedule around with you. We narrowed down the matches we definitely wanted to see in order to ensure we didn’t miss any key matches.
… Did I mention the thing about sunscreen?
But mostly, just take people along with you who will enjoy time spent at the Quidditch World Cup. I had an amazing day with some awesome friends. We watched teams win, watched some lose, laughed at the spectacular Snitches, cheered on the Beaters, Chasers, Seekers, and Keepers, and – in the end – would do it all over again next year.
Maybe I’m just a nerd, but it was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had at a sporting event ever and I hope you all get a chance to experience it at some point too! Did you get the opportunity to attend the Quidditch World Cup? If so, what was your favorite part of the weekend?