Giant dragon takes center stage at FantasyCon
New event • Family-friendly event runs through Saturday at the Salt Palace.
Published: July 3, 2014 02:28PM
Updated: July 3, 2014 02:54PM
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Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune Cosplayers line up to welcome attendees during a preview of FantasyCon at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Wednesday July 2, 2014.

The biggest creature in Salt Lake City is no longer one of the elephants at Hogle Zoo.

This new beast is three stories tall, has a 53-foot wingspan and glowing eyes, and breathes the occasional puff of steam. Sure, Volos is a dragon and he’s not exactly real, but that’s all part of the fantasy behind FantasyCon, which runs through Saturday at the Salt Palace.

“We want this to be immersive and interactive,” said FantasyCon founder Josh Patel. “You can be a casual fantasy or science-fiction observer and be thrilled to death at the event. We’re bringing your favorite books and your favorite movies to life.

“We want everyone to have fun.”

That was clearly the case for the kids who were on hand when Volos was unveiled, with cheers, ooohs and aaahs rebounding through the Salt Palace Convention Center.

“It’s cool,” said 8-year-old Jackson Simmons from Murray, who was there sporting a Starfleet uniform of the “Star Trek: The Next Generation” era. “I like the eyes.”

You don’t have to dress up, but clearly this is a costume-friendly zone. Over here, there’s a very small Harry Potter having his picture taken with a mermaid. Over there, a tiny Superman is having his picture taken in front of a backdrop depicting Tattooine, a planet familiar to “Star Wars” fans.

And the Witch King of Angmar — one of the Black Riders, for those of you less familiar with “The Lord of the Rings” — is over there having his picture taken with a life-size Jabba the Hutt from “Star Wars.”

“It’s really fun,” said 13-year-old Joey Raff from Saratoga Springs, who fashioned his own Witch King costume. But what’s his favorite thing at FantasyCon?

“So far, the dragon,” he said.

Of course.

It’s not just the FantasyCon ticket holders who are in costume. Pretty much everywhere you look, volunteers are decked out as Boba Fett, Iron Man, Batman, Spartacus and Chewbacca the Wookiee, just to name a few.

There are knights, princesses, Disney princesses, Gandalf the wizard, and an entire troop of “Star Wars” stormtroopers.

You can check out the fantasy art exhibit, or you can move over to the arena to watch knights do battle. Or “Star Wars” characters do battle. Or both.

And, hey, who wouldn’t want their picture taken with their head in a guillotine?

FantasyCon is designed to be family friendly, and even the youngest kids were clearly having fun. Four-year-old Esper Holmes hardly seemed to know where to look, although she too was taken by her favorite part — “the dragon.”

And the youngster had no difficulty at all getting into the spirit of FantasyCon.

“At first she was, like, ‘Mommy, is it going to be a real dragon?’ ” said Erica Shaw, Esper’s mommy. “And then she was just so scared until they lifted the curtain and she was, like, ‘Oh. That’s so cool! I like it.’ But then she still wasn’t sure if it was real.”

That’s the goal at FantasyCon, which runs Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the Salt Palace.

spierce@sltrib.com

FantasyCon

When • Through Saturday

Where • Salt Palace Convention Center, 90 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City

Tickets • VIP All-Access, $150; adults (16-plus), $30 today, $40 Saturday, $60 three-day; youth (11-15), $15 today, $20 Saturday, $30 three-day; children 10 and younger, free. Military, college student and teacher discounts available. Available at FantasyCon.com and at the door.

Send us your pictures!

I Do you have great pictures of yourself, your family or your friends in costume at FantasyCon? Email them to us at photo@sltrib.com.