Angry fans say organizers of Harry Potter Festival in Jefferson were unprepared
Updated: 10:30 a.m. on October 24
JEFFERSON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- CBS 58 received a voicemail from Leigh Price, Executive Director of the Jefferson, Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce.
In response to the concerns raised about the festival, Price said "A lot of people are unhappy, but more people were happy with the experience."
JEFFERSON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Some Harry Potter fans are cursing their decision to attend last weekend's Harry Potter Festival USA in Jefferson, Wisconsin.
Fans says organizers promised an immersive experience but were instead unprepared for the crowds. City officials provided an estimate that around 35,000 attended the event on Saturday.
Here are some of the main criticisms circulating on the festival's Facebook page: 1) Visitors say hidden costs were added on top of the price of admission 2) the effort put into decorations were at the level of a high school homecoming and 3) poor transportation planning caused long lines for shuttles.
6th grader from Sun Prairie Danielle Queiser says she finished reading the seventh Harry Potter book in just the last few weeks. So does she think the Harry Potter festival even compares to the series?
"I really don't just cause like we kind of paid $50 to stand in a bunch of lines," Queiser said.
"It was a lot of waiting," Queiser said.
"We went outside and they had told us that there were buses that would take us to the attractions. and there were incredibly long lines for the buses and the buses always looked full...the buses that did show up," Dave Queiser, Danielle's father, said.
For hours people waited to get to certain attractions that have also been highly criticized online.
One person commented on the festival's Facebook page "'Hagrid' ate breakfast without his wig and played on his phone the whole time and did not get up once for pictures. Very disappointing, especially for $20 per person!"
Another person wrote "Went to the 'prison' - where nothing was happening?! Empty tennis court? So extremely disappointed."
Others say they wouldn't make the drive to the again and regret doing it the first time.
"We traveled an hour and a half," Maria Remillard of Elk Grove Village, Illinois said.
"And once we got there we were basically stuck there. The bus lines were hours long. I ended up walking back to the fairgrounds to pick up our car so I could go back and pick up my parents, my sister, and my daughter," Remillard said.
"'The Owlry' was a small VFW hall with one stuffed animal and one girl signing letters for an extra fee," Remillard said.
Queiser also says the event was chaotic and there were no staff or volunteers available to answer questions.
"The website had crashed so no one was able to get online and find a map," Queiser said.
Queiser says he waited for more than a hour to get a picture of Danielle with a sorting hat and was told at the entrance of the exhibit that it would cost him $10 for a professional photo and $5 to let the workers take a picture with his cell phone.
He plans to ask for a refund for his admission.
"It seemed to be, I guess the word I would use is lame. It was a very half-hearted effort that someone had put on and they charged us a lot of money to go to it," Queiser said.
The organizers of the event as well as the local chamber of commerce have not responded to requests for comment on the situation.