Utah is the land of canyons and costumes, rockhounders and role-players, dunes and dungeon masters, fossils and fandom. It’s where you’ll find both the densest concentration of Jurassic-era bones and the densest concentration of … nerds?! Oh yes. Last year, Utah was dubbed theeeee nerdiest state.
The land of geologic wonder being filled to the brim with fables, lore, science-fiction, paranormal encounters and outer space spectators kind of makes sense. Utah is so covered in alien landscapes and otherworldly marvels, why wouldn’t it be the place where imaginations run wilder than outlaws in slot canyons?
Bust out your harnesses, ‘cause we’re about to descend deep into Utah’s Nerd Canyon, where the lingo is the same as any other Utah outdoor adventure. “Boom! Kapow! Wham! Blam! Wow!” OK, Nerd Canyon isn’t a real place, but it should be.
This is the place to play hard, both outdoors and in. Bouldering bards? Paragliding paladins? Skiing sorcerers? Magic is being cast in every field, valley and chute, it seems. This is the place for iconic movies, video games and fantasy books. This is the place for card collecting and hurling nerdy insults like “Fool of a Took!”
Even Utah’s one true rap artist and fellow lover of the Wasatch Front, Post Malone, dabbles in nerdom. More than dabbles, actually. He recently bought the One Ring card from the “Magic: The Gathering’s Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle Earth” set. Aside from a differing tax bracket, we’d say he fits right in.
This is the place where people dress up for both backcountry excursions and cosplay conventions. But the difference between guising yourself as a Black Diamond model versus guising yourself as Duncan Idaho is negligible. Both outfits help you train in the elements, whether on mountaintops or dunes. Neither outfit will protect you from sandworms, though.
Clearly this is also the place where cosplay ideas flourish. It’s no wonder that when Utah’s FanX first arrived in 2013, with attendees like Marvel superhero Stan Lee and Admiral Kirk of the USS Enterprise, it broke the record for number of attendees to a comic convention opening event. Holy Shatner!
It’s been a success year after year, and we’re sure this year will be no different. So if you’re attending a cosplay event like Utah FanX, why not dress as a character from a story that includes Utah? It’s the perfect opportunity to relive the emotional roller coaster that was “The Last of Us.” Go as Joel, or even the giraffe from Hogle Zoo.
This convention is a massive dose of nerdiness. And what a treat, Utah has even more cosplay events to attend. These ones immerse you in the culture of anime. Whether you’re a human or a Pokémon, you can dress up, sing karaoke or just go appreciate beautiful art.
You could also go visit any of the zillion locations throughout Utah that are featured in films or video games. If you’re into cosplaying in the wild, we think this makes for a pretty nifty road trip idea. You’d get to sightsee and appreciate Utah’s beauty all while creating your own cosplay photoshoot. On site! Of course, you’ll need to stop at REI and the The Nerd Store to re-up on any gear you might need to look the part.
This is the place to be, especially if you’ve got an arsenal of character quotes rolling around in your head and you need a place to say them all day long without judgment. That’s role-play, baby. It’s your chance to not only meet those characters, but shamelessly become them. After all, cosplay is the sincerest form of flattery.
At Thanksgiving when grandma asks, “What is cosplay? And am I too old to do it?” you’ll be ready to show her pics of costumes and guests from this year’s Utah FanX event.
“No, grandma, you’re not too old. Fun has no age limit. Look at this old fella dressed as Doc Brown from Back to the … ” Grandma cuts you off. She recognizes Christopher Lloyd in the picture and yelps, “Great Scott!”
You tell her how the Utah FanX convention requires a secret phrase to make sure everyone is worthy to enter. If you’re incorrect, the geeky tech villain from “Jurassic Park” pops up on a screen and says “Ah, ah, ah, you didn’t say the magic word!”
Luckily, the famous wizarding twins told it to you beforehand. “I solemnly swear I am up to no good.” Technically you did have to pay, too. Somewhere between 20-295 galleons for a weekend of mischief.
You also greeted everyone at the convention with a stern, “Give me your name, horse master, and I shall give ya mine!” Everyone guessed who you were instantly, Gimli, son of Glóin. Maybe it was the beard, battle axe and short king energy that gave it away.
Utah has a growing anime fanbase that comes with an endless supply of cosplay ideas, too. Let’s just say you won’t be the only one dressed as a character from “Death Note.”
In the land where visiting a tavern is more associated with a session in Dungeons and Dragons than the state’s local brewery scene, there are no shortages of places to get your nerd on.
There’s no shortage of fictional inspiration either. The authors of “Mistborn” and “Fablehaven” begat their fantasy novels in Utah. And while you can’t take a road trip to see those mythical locations, here are some TV, game and novel locations you can totally visit in real life.
Aron Ralston got stuck for “127 Hours” in Bluejohn Canyon, just south of Canyonlands National Park. Play it safe and visit a less technical canyon so you don’t have to cut off your arm for this photo shoot.
Dress up as either aliens or hoodoos in “Galaxy Quest” State Park. Oops, we mean Goblin Valley State Park.
Channel Nathan Hale from “Resistance 2” for a rescue mission in Bryce Canyon National Park.
Once back to the heart of the city, attend a Snow Owl Benefit at the Union Pacific Depot’s Grand Hall. Wear your dapperest orange or blue suit and pop some bubbly. Just watch out where your champagne cork goes, lest ye kill an owl and earn the title of “Dumb and Dumber.”
The tween Dungeons and Dragon nerds of “Stranger Things” go on a road trip to Salt Lake City. Dress up as the Demogorgon at the Utah FanX convention when you visit.
One thing about the cosplay world is that it gives people a sense of community and belonging. If Postie and the Allosauruses taught us anything, it’s that two totally different worlds can collide, and the results are always going to be magical.