In a few weeks my next adventure will be going back down to California to visit my cousin for four days, with one of them being spent at WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention Center. I am not sure what to expect from this convention as it will be my first time attending and all I know is that it is put on by Comic-Con International, who runs the huge San Diego show. I am really into pop culture and these conventions have become favorite events to go to. Going to panels, walking the exhibit floor, sharing experiences with people and seeing all the art that people come up with are some of my favorite things about the conventions. I have been to many different ones on the west coast and it got me thinking about my favorite and my not so favorite. Here are the ones I have frequented and my thoughts on them.
San Diego Comic Con – SDCC has definitely been the best con I have been to and it is a ‘you must go at least once in your life’ convention. It is pretty big and a lot of people attend. You definitely have to be ready to be surrounded by people almost the whole time, be ready to sleep outside in line to get into panels that are on your bucket list and be ready not to eat a decent meal for a couple of days because you are spending hours in Hall H to watch panels or hours in line. I know, this all sounds horrible, but I have honestly had the most amazing times in the years that I have gone. The con is four days, always held in July and registration for tickets is usually early in the year. It is a good idea to scope out hotel/airline prices right after you get tickets. My first time going was with my best friends in 2010 (you can read about my full experience here) and we were easily able to get four-day passes with preview night almost a year before the con (this was the only time going to SDCC that this happened for me). I got the idea of going from the coverage of it in Entertainment Weekly and pitched it to my friends the summer before. We managed to see a lot of fun panels and I got to attend a couple of fun parties. It was an awesome first experience.
I have been back twice with my cousin, scoring a Thursday ticket in 2013 and then somehow managing to get all four days in 2014. Even though we only went one day in 2013, we saw a few movie panels and got a lot of cool stuff from walking the floor. The 2014 trip was awesome because we saw almost all of the panels that were on our list. This was my first year of sleeping outside, which I had vowed I would not do, but if you have your heart set on seeing certain things then you have to make sacrifices! In two days we only got eight hours of sleep, but it had been totally worth it. We were able to see some pretty awesome movie panels like Marvel (Ant-Man and Avengers), The Hobbit, Mad Max and some cool TV panels; Game of Thrones, the Walking Dead, the last Sons of Anarchy panel and a special WB panel of Gotham, The Flash and Arrow.
We have tried every year since to go back and have not had any luck getting tickets. This has become a huge downside to this con. It has become so popular that now it is difficult to go. They changed their ticketing soon after the first time I had gone to an open registration and you have to sign up for a member id through the SDCC website. The ticket site is now a randomized system where you log in, you get placed in a virtual line and you basically sit in front of your computer for an hour waiting to be picked to buy tickets or wait for the site to tell you it is sold out. It is a frustrating system! But, San Diego is still a fun place to go and even if you only get a one day ticket or nothing at all, there is still so much outside of the con and you never know what cool things you will get to see or the people you will meet. It is helpful to follow the San Diego Comic-Con Unofficial Blog for updates on the convention and when open registration will be.
Rose City Comic Con – It was exciting when this started in Portland and every year has been a good show. After more people showed up than anticipated in 2012, the first year it started, they wisely moved it from the Double Tree to the convention center which definitely provided more space. The convention center floor is very open and I never feel like I am too crowded when trying to navigate it. RCCC is slowly getting bigger and they have definitely improved the show over the years when it comes to guests. It is nice to have a local con and to support local artists and shops. It runs in September and this year has been expanded to three days.
Emerald City Comic Con – ECCC happens in March and is a four day convention. I like going to Seattle and a lot of my friends go to this con too so having a group of people there makes it even more fun. I have gone a few times since 2011, but it has been getting more crowded and Seattle is becoming more expensive to stay the weekend. Usually it is who the guests are that help me decide on going. They do always have cool exhibits, like a Lego display or costumes from a movie, and they have a ton of vendors and artists in the exhibit hall. Plus, Seattle has so much to do in the city in case you need a break from the madness. One of the highlights from attending has been meeting John Noble and Jasika Nicole from Fringe. They were two of the nicest people and I got a photo with them, plus they were nice enough to sign it for me right before the convention closed for the day.
Wizard World Comic Con – This may have been the con where I got to meet the Chris’, but I find the Wizard World ones over priced and unorganized. WW does events throughout the year in different US cities. My first WW was in 2015 in Portland and I went because of the guests. In 2016, they were adding people from the Marvel casts to almost every city but Portland. My best friend and I wanted nothing more than to take a picture with Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth so we ended up canceling all of our Emerald City Con plans (we had everything booked!) to go to Philadelphia. While touring the city and eating Philly cheesesteak was a lot of fun, the convention was frustrating. We decided to only go for one day since we had limited time and ended up spending most of the convention in line due to photo ops being so behind. There were so many people waiting for pictures and the lines were still huge after we had gotten done. The picture itself was so fast; being a hi, get ready, snap the photo, out the door. The night before we had talked about how we wanted to pose, but when it came time for the picture we had no time to ask and both of us could not even say one word to either of the Chris’ anyway! At other cons, I have actually gotten a chance to talk to people who I was taking a picture with or getting an autograph from so it was a little disappointing.
Everything was running behind by almost two hours and there was barely time to see all of the exhibitors on the floor between my photo and autograph. Then by the time I had gotten done, the convention was closing. I read some stories online later on about how some people got turned away from the photo ops they paid for because the guests were out of time and had to be somewhere else. The upside of the weekend was being in a new city. I did have a great time with my friends and had good chats with people I had met in line so not all of it was frustrating. I did not attend the show this year in Portland and if I do attend this con again, it will definitely depend on the guests because $50 for just one day is too much!
I have had a lot of fun at conventions and love going. What makes it even better is having friends who are just as nerdy as I am and love to go too. I am excited for WonderCon and will probably attend Rose City again this year. I hope to some day get back to San Diego and some day attend the New York City Comic Con.