In October, the word started to spread that an adults-only Harry Potter-themed event was coming to Montreal, complete with the kind of drinks and snacks that you could only get if you'd done a study-abroad semester at Hogwarts. The promos for the $50-per-ticket event, which was hosted by a real organization called LOL Event Group, also promised "the opportunity to visit cobblestone alley to pick your wand (or let it choose you)," photo ops with "real life characters," and a night of music from DJ Dobs and the Potter Party Band.
But when the attendees arrived at the Rialto Theatre on Friday night, they were greeted by a dry-erase board that said "MAGIC THIS WAY," and things only got worse from there. Instead of the "boozy Butterbeer, Polyjuice Potion and Hair of the Multi-Headed Dog" that had been advertised, they got decidedly un-magical regular cocktails.
The "Luna Love’s Pudding, Ron's Family Sweater Cookies and Cauldron Cakes" were also no-shows, although there were several aluminum trays filled with lukewarm supermarket appetizers that were impaled on wooden toothpicks. And those magic wands? Yeah, that turned out to be a table topped with another dry-erase board ("Baguette Magique," this one read), and piled with wooden chopsticks that the attendees could decorate with glitter. So basically another Fyre Festival, but make it muggle as shit.
"It was just so shockingly bad," attendee Georgiana Elias told CBC News. "I wouldn't even make an activity like this for children." Another told MTL Blog that they thought LOL Event Group had "scammed" everyone who bought a ticket. "The event was more than misleading and the promotion of it was all lies," the unnamed attendee said.
A number of disappointed guests have joined a Facebook group called "Cheated by LOL Event Group" where they've shared stories, posted their underwhelming pictures, and commiserated over their inability to get their money back. (LOL Event Group briefly attempted to do some online damage control, before deactivating its Facebook page. VICE has reached out to the company for comment.)
Because LOL Event Group may or may not be staffed entirely by Death Eaters, it has denied most of those refund requests and—inexplicably—it has also attempted to distance itself from the connections to that particular Wizarding World.
"We did not intend to come across as a specific Harry Potter event," the company wrote in a now-deleted Facebook comment. "The event was intended to be a wizard theme, and we wanted to provide a fun magical experience." Subsequent commenters told them to quit their bullshit, since the event's description involved Potter-specific references, like Butterbeer, Polyjuice and Ron [Weasley], and the decor that night had banners from all four Hogwarts houses, as well as a replica of Platform 9 ¾. (On its Instagram account, LOL Event Group posted a screenshot of the MTL Blog's preview of the "Harry Potter-Inspired Beer & Cider Festival," and called it "great media coverage.")
Disappointed guests who requested refunds from LOL Event Group have shared screenshots of the message they've received in return. "We have received a number of refund requests from event attendees who's [sic] experience at the event did not live up to their anticipations [sic]," it says.
"Our team put a lot into the planning and execution of this event, and we are deeply discouraged to hear this kind of feedback [...] As noted on our event page, our refund policy does not allow refunds after 7 days before the event. Because your refund request does not fall within this policy, we will not be able to honor your request."
Yeesh, LOL Event Group probably deserves to be on the receiving end of some kind of spell. Levicorpus, anybody?