Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Returning to the Cons

(Guest Post by Ryan)

After three long years, the convention season has arrived and is in full gear once again.  After taking a breaking during the great sickness to stay safe for family and friends, I have once  again embarked on my con adventures. While my first convention of the year was DreamHack  Dallas, the first con that felt to be back to normal for me was FanExpo Dallas. Boasting dozens  of celebrities, artists and a plethora of merchandise, I really felt back in gear. However,  something felt off. I felt almost taken back to my first convention experience, not knowing what  to expect and do. The long time between cons had fatigued my muscles and made me forget  the many lessons I had learned from attending almost 20 conventions between 2008 to 2019.  And I have to say, FanExpo Dallas was the perfect convention to help me remember. Here are five tips for visiting a convention, whether you are a Con noob or a veteran finally ready to  return to the vast arena. 

1. Make the plan, execute the plan, expect the plan to go off the rails, throw away the plan. 

The first thing to do is both simple and hard, make a plan. Not only do you have  to figure out what con to go to, with many occurring close to or on the same days,  but also how you are going to get there, what you are going to eat and what you are  going to do. Many people’s first mistake is becoming overwhelmed by everything to  do at a convention. Because, depending on the con, there is plenty to do. And you  can’t do it all. The first time I went to the famous San Diego Comic Con, I found that  out rather quickly. If I wanted to see a certain panel, I had to get into the room  where it was and sometimes sit through many other panels that I had no interest in.  The same is true for most cons. If you wanted to try to get an autograph of your  favorite celebrity, you might not be able to make it to see the presentation of that  new movie trailer before everyone else. Coming up with a plan helps keep you on  track and helps you see and do more. This is especially important if you have a single  day to experience a con. You must decide what is your most important activity and  focus first on that and then everything else. If you have more than one day, figure  out which activity is the most important for the day. Another bit of advice is to scope  out the con on the first day since the first day is usually the least busy. But  remember, even some of the best plans fall through, so be open to adapting, for not  all is lost. If you have other activities to make up for it, you won’t feel so sad.  

2. I used to be an adventurer like you until I took an arrow to the knee. 

The next advice I would give to con goers is con fatigue is real. It is easy to  become overwhelmed with everything happening. All the people, booths, items,  celebrities and activities that each con can provide. But you must not allow yourself  to be overcome. Rest, hydration and sustenance are required to have a good  experience. A good night’s sleep is a good first step in this. Remember to either  bring food or snacks, these can help alleviate symptoms of con fatigue. If not, you  can always partake in what the con has to offer in food or drinks, but be warned, they usually aren’t cheap. Also be prepared to be standing and walking quite a bit,  so bring comfortable shoes. Giving yourself some time to sit down and enjoy a panel  can also help recharge your batteries and relieve those aching feet. Pacing yourself is  key. Especially if you are attending more than one day. You can easily wear yourself  out the first day and that can hind your experience for the rest of the con. Don’t take  an arrow to the knee, work smarter to play harder. 

3. It’s dangerous to go alone 

This next piece of advice can vary from person to person, but I feel in most cases  it rings true. Try not to go to the con alone. While attending a con alone is  something you can do, I have found in most cases that the right company makes the  experience so much better. Most of the conventions I’ve been to I have gone with  friends and family, and it has enhanced the con greatly. At FanExpo Dallas this year,  one of the best times I had was when I got together with others working on this blog  and attended a Pokémon trivia panel. It was a very fun experience and we fed off each other’s energy and it was a really good time. Having people to sit and relax with  also helps keep even the down times entertaining. Hearing and talking about the  other person’s experience and favorite moments is something I always enjoy doing  after every con I go to. But a word of caution to parents that bring young children to  conventions, while many conventions can be overall “family friendly” there can be  aspects that are not. Whether that be certain cosplays to art, be prepared to see  somethings that you may not want to expose young children to. But ultimately,  whether its San Diego Comic Con to a small convention, bring a friend and see how  great it will be. 

4. I can answer that…for Money 

As with everything money is king, and cons are no different. While the price of  the ticket may include entry into most of the activities at the convention, if you want  to have the full con experience, you are going to have to pay up. Everything from the parking to the art will cost something. So be prepared to dish out a bit of cash. And I  do mean cash. While most vendors will take a debit or credit card, most celebrity  autographs, pictures and some vendors will only take cash and can cost a pretty  penny. There are work arounds at times with pre-purchasing certain experiences, but this can vary from con to con. Also, be wary of the prices of some of the items  that can be purchased from vendors at the con. Many of those same items can be  found online for much cheaper. So, you may want to look something up on your  phone, instead of impulse buying an item at a 20% mark up. But you can also save some money by planning, whether by changing your mode of transportation to find  free parking and walking instead of paying for close parking. Something to also take  note of is that most cons have a variety of different types of passes. Some offer  “VIP” experience that can help you save time but for a premium. At FanExpo Dallas, I  stood in line for almost three hours to meet Ashley Eckstein, the voice of Ahsoka  Tano from the Star Wars Franchise. But those that paid for the “VIP” passes were  able to bypass the line and waited at most 10 mins. So, if you wish to experience a  convention to the fullest you may want to look into getting these higher tier passes  especially if you want certain celebrity interactions. 

5. Are you not entertained?! 

In the end that last piece of advice I have for all con goers is to have fun!  Conventions are meant for people to show their appreciation and excitement for the  things they love. So don’t forget to go out there and enjoy the experience. Don’t be  overwhelmed or feel bad that you didn’t get to do everything you wanted to. Enjoy  the sights, the sounds and the people of each convention you attend this year. And  hopefully as you attend more and more, you’ll discover new ways to enjoy the  fandoms you already love. You might even discover new things to love or be inspired  to create something of your own. So pick up your lightsaber, brush up on your  Klingon and don’t miss the train. A brand new world is waiting just for you.

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