When Fancy Meets Fantasy: The Fantastical Society and the Magic It Creates

When the magic of Harry Potter and the elegance of an extravagant dinner party collide, you’re bound to get something unique. Wizarding events are anything but scarce, and the Fantastical Society provides nothing short of a true high-class wizarding dining experience.

 

 

So what exactly is the Fantastical Society? Founder and president Steve Bialecki let us in on the inner workings of the group.

Headquartered at historic Madison Manor, high in the hills above Pasadena, California, the Fantastical Society is an association of fans dedicated to sharing our passion for fantasy, friendship, fun, and festivities by creating and hosting the highest quality most incredible events in the Southern California area. Although most of our events transport us to the Wizarding World, we also travel to other worlds and beyond in our quest for fantasy! We are a non-profit fan only group and are not associated with any franchise.

 

 

Bialecki helps organize the society through all stages of an event, from planning to hosting. But these aren’t your average dinner parties. Bialecki says there’s a lot more that goes into cultivating “highly themed dinner events.”

Our signature events are highly themed formal dinner events. Each signature event requires months of preparation to ensure that it’s on theme, unique, and totally over the top in quality and experience. Think of them as glamorously themed weddings with atmosphere, music, appetizers, drinks, photograph locations, general mischief in our gardens, formal seated dinner, and instead of a ceremony we play the Fantastical Fun Show – an exciting gameshow event that has elements from The Price is Right, the Gong Show, White Elephant, and Let’s Make a Deal!

 

 

Not only is Bialecki creating the events, but he often hosts them. The Madison Manor near Pasadena, California, is also his “family’s home.”

I love hosting here because it fits the theming very well, we have adequate space in order to host the events and I’m able to maintain complete control over the event. We’ve also hosted events at public parks, Universal Studios, and Disneyland.

 

 

The Fantastical Society began in 2017 with a “Ravenclaw Ball” and holiday parties. Bialecki says that once word got around of his shindigs, the Fantastical Society was born.

Our very first event was the Ravenclaw Ball in 2017. I had met a bunch of people in a Harry Potter running group and decided to throw a party for everyone that was in my area. Who doesn’t love a party right? I wanted to celebrate our love of the Wizarding World and of course…being Ravenclaws! From there word spread and we took off. We also began hosting non-wizarding world events like our incredible Halloween and holiday parties. This past year we organized several ‘Quest’ events at Universal Studios and Disneyland which are immersive scavengers hunts with multiple sophisticated elements. In addition, we hosted ‘Art Days’ where participants can create their own amazing pieces of wooden art inspired by various fantasy worlds!

 

 

If you want to get into these magical events, you’re in luck! There are two types of membership for the Society. One allows for the general public to attend when events are hosted in public settings. Bialecki says the Society’s “Quest events” at places like Disneyland and Universal Studios are “open to anyone and everyone [who] wishes to attend.” The second membership is the Platinum level.

Platinum level events, like our signature events, are held here at Madison Manor and therefore are only open to Platinum level members. Anyone can become a Platinum level member by either joining us at public events so we can meet you and get to know you or be a guest of an existing Platinum member. We do this in order to maintain the safety of the Madison Manor residents and guests.

 

 

The Madison Manor parties host between 20 and 50 guests. Events in the Manor’s gardens are able to host 50 guests at a time thanks to the size. Bialecki says the Great Hall of Madison Manor caps out at 20 guests, but that’s only to “maintain the highest guest experience.” Since the capacity is very limited, the waitlist to get into an event has accumulated.

We always have quite a healthy waitlist. That’s why we try to cycle through guests so that it’s fair for everyone and everyone gets a chance to experience an event. There are a few regulars who we know will always be there in addition to the Magic Makers. But, yeah, we really try to shake it up.

The famed “signature events” have occurred four times a year since the start of the Fantastical Society. But with such a waitlist, Bialecki wants to expand to include everyone who wants to be involved. There has been, however, a slight snag in his plans.

Signature events that are held here at Madison Manor happen about four times a year. But this year, we were looking at doing more with six. Because our events have become so popular we really wanted to make sure we gave more people the opportunity to join us. But now with the whole [COVID-19 pandemic], we’re just kind of on hold.

 

 

To find out more about the Fantastical Society and everything it does, check out the Facebook page for event dates, times, and prices.

I’d like to extend a special thank you to the Fantastical Society and Steve Bialecki for providing an interview and photographs.

Full Transcript with Steve Bialecki, Sunday, March 15, 2020
In your words, what is the Fantastical Society? What is your job with the group?

Headquartered at historic Madison Manor, high in the hills above Pasadena, California, the Fantastical Society is an association of fans dedicated to sharing our passion for fantasy, friendship, fun, and Festivities by creating and hosting the highest quality most incredible events in the Southern California area. Although most of our events transport us to the Wizarding World, we also travel to other worlds and beyond in our quest for Fantasy! We are a non-profit fan only group and are not associated with any franchise. My name is Steve Bialecki and I am the Founder and President of the Fantastical Society. I lead the Magic Makers as we plan, create and implement our events throughout the year. I’m also the owner of Madison Manor where we host our signature events! Our signature events are highly themed formal dinner events. Each signature event requires months of preparation to ensure that it’s on theme, unique and totally over the top in quality and experience. Think of them as glamorously themed weddings with atmosphere, music, appetizers, drinks, photograph locations, and general mischief in our gardens, formal seated dinner and instead of a ceremony we play the Fantastical Fun Show - an exciting game show event that has elements from The Price is Right, the Gong Show, White Elephant and Let’s Make a Deal! We also make sure that each guest gets a host ‘gift’ be it their very own custom Chocolate Frog Card, winged key, Have You Seen Poster, Quibbler Cover, etc! Creating the themed custom gift for each event has been super fun! Depending on the theme (and the weather) dinner and the game show is hosted in our gardens, in our conservatory, or in our incredible Great Hall.

According to your site, you started hosting events in 2015. Is that correct? How have you expanded since then?

Our very first event was the Ravenclaw Ball in 2017. I had met a bunch of people in a Harry Potter running group and decided to throw a party for everyone that was in my area. Who doesn’t love a party right? I wanted to celebrate our love of the Wizarding World and of course, being Ravenclaws! From there word spread and we took off. We also began hosting non-wizarding world events like our incredible Halloween and holiday parties. This past year we organized several ‘Quest’ events at Universal Studios and Disneyland which are immersive scavengers hunts with multiple sophisticated elements. In addition, we hosted ‘Art Days’ where participants can create their own amazing pieces of wooden art inspired by various fantasy worlds! New for this year we’re also adding our first Run/Walk with medals and everything. We are looking forward to continuing to grow and bring our signature quality and creativity to all kinds of events!

Are your events open to the public, or do attendees have to be a part of the society?

We have two levels of membership (General and Platinum) and two types of events (Open and Platinum). Open events are public events held in public areas, like our Quests. Those are open to anyone and everyone [who] wishes to attend. Platinum level events, like our signature events, are held here at Madison Manor and therefore are only open to Platinum level members. Anyone can become a Platinum level member by either joining us at public events so we can meet you and get to know you or be a guest of an existing Platinum member. We do this in order to maintain the safety of the Madison Manor residents and guests.

Do you try to host just Harry Potter- themed events? I saw a Disneyland Quest Event from last July on the events page of the website. How do other themes compare with your Harry Potter-themed events?

Harry Potter and the Wizarding World is most certainly our favorite and the majority of our events are Harry Potter themed but we embrace and enjoy focusing on all kinds of fantastical worlds. Regardless of the theme, we ensure that we maintain the highest level of quality and attention to detail be they Wizarding World or not.

Your site says you host dinners at the Madison Manor. Tell us about why you picked that location. Where else have you hosted events? What's been your favorite place for an event?

Madison Manor is my family’s home. I love hosting here because it fits the theming very well, we have adequate space in order to host the events and I’m able to maintain complete control over the event. We’ve also hosted events at public parks, Universal Studios, and Disneyland.

Can you clarify how frequently you host your signature formal dinner events?

Signature events that are held here at Madison Manor happen about four times a year, but this year we were looking at doing more with six. Because our events have become so popular we really wanted to make sure we gave more people the opportunity to join us. But now with the whole [COVID-19 pandemic], we’re just kind of on hold.

You told me [earlier] you had to cancel an event scheduled for this weekend. Are you anticipating any more cancelations given the public's worry about COVID-19?

Our first signature event of this year was going to be Dining with the Dark Arts which was scheduled for 3/14/20. We had a whole evening planned around dark magic including a full, Dark inspired menu to really tantalize our guest’s taste buds! Our Great Hall was also fully taken over by the Dark Arts and looks incredible. It’s a shame that we had to cancel.

On average, how many people attend each event? Are you looking to expand past Southern California anytime soon?

Our signature events, held here at Madison Manor can have up to 50 guests if we hold the event in our gardens or 20 guests if we hold the event in our Great Hall. In order to maintain the highest guest experience, we feel that these numbers are the most appropriate. We are not looking to expand past Southern California as we already have a rich and diverse population of members that participate in our society.

Do you ever have a waitlist for attendees who want to be at events hosted at the Manor since it has a capacity of 20 and 50 people?

Yes! We always have quite a healthy waitlist. That’s why we try to cycle through guests so that it’s fair for everyone and everyone gets a chance to experience an event. There are a few regulars who we know we will always be there in addition to the Magic Makers. But yeah, we really try to shake it up.

What's been your most memorable or favorite event so far?

That is such a great question. Each of our events are as varied as children and you could never pick just one! They truly are so special!

What Hogwarts House are you in?

Well, based upon all the data I appear to be 51% Ravenclaw and 49% Hufflepuff. I think the fact that I said, “Based upon the data” to start my statement I am Ravenclaw dominant. But, I wear both scarves proudly.

Has this turned into a profession for you, or do you have another regular job? A "9 to 5," as it were?

This is not a profession. It’s a hobby for all of us. We put in all the time and effort on a volunteer basis because we love what we do. I have made so many amazing friends by doing this and had so many Fantastical experiences. The Wizarding World community is so amazing. I like to say unlike any other but I know that there are so many amazing fandoms out there. But for sure I know that we “Potterheads” so to speak are just so great. And I hate the term Potterheads. Professionally though I’m an aerospace engineer. Worked my way up through management and retired from the ‘full time’ life about five years ago when we had kids. Now I consult which frees me up to spend time with our boys and of course, do Fantastical things!