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Five Things They Never Tell You About Attending Conventions


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invalidname
Get off my lawn!Get off my lawn!


Joined: 11 Aug 2004
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Location: Grand Rapids, MI
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 12:40 pm Reply with quote
One thing I'd like to hear from other con-goers is the phenomenon of the mailed-in-advance badge. The only con that I know that offers this is Anime Central, and it is glorious because for an extra $2, it saves you hours of waiting in a registration line, whether you're pre-reg or on-site (the first year I went to Youmacon, pre-reg was a 3 hour wait, last year, on-site was better at 45 minutes… but Anime Central still wins with its zero-minute wait).

Does any other con mail badges in advance, and if not, why not? Is widespread counterfeiting seriously that legitimate a concern?
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Levitz9



Joined: 06 Feb 2007
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 12:46 pm Reply with quote
Wow, this is really awesome. Lots of great insight here!
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residentgrigo



Joined: 23 Dec 2007
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:09 pm Reply with quote
No joke about the smell? Too cheap is guess. I lived with 5 other guys in one tiny room during basic training for 3 months and pulled comparable stuns as sleeping in my car so point 1 is bullshit. One shoulndn´t blow 500 bucks on cheap plastic nonsense (Ebay imports do exist) but that math ain´t wort it. Learn to sleep better.
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Greed1914
It's Over 9000!It's Over 9000!


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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:15 pm Reply with quote
Some of those things are still relevant to small conventions, like the part about sharing a room with too many people. It can also be a bit of an issue if you have a mixed-gender setup. Anytime where I've been involved with this, it always means waiting a long time to use the bathroom because obviously people aren't going to change in front of the opposite sex. Compound that by more than one person, and you'll be waiting a while.

The events with long lines oftentimes are not worth it for me. It inevitably adds to what one expects because we want it to be worth the extra time, and that usually means disappointment. The cosplay masquerade is always the longest wait at my local convention, and I typically skip it. Not because I dislike cosplay, but because it means immediate access to other things like the dealer room or other panels. It's kind of nice to show a bit of support for the panels that got stuck with that time slot, too.

Also, I give Funimation credit for putting a list of un-answerable questions up on screen. In my experience, that actually helped a lot. I don't know why anyone thinks a company is going to spill its secrets like that rather than make an official announcement, so I'm grateful to have that literally spelled out for people. Special requests, etc. are another matter. Like Zac said, going prepared would help a lot. Most Q&A sessions I've sat through started with basically nobody having any questions at all. Then the guest would joke about wrapping up early, at which point the questions Zac described would roll in.
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Hameyadea



Joined: 23 Jun 2014
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:21 pm Reply with quote
residentgrigo wrote:
No joke about the smell? Too cheap is guess. I lived with 5 other guys in one tiny room during basic training for 3 months and pulled comparable stuns as sleeping in my car so point 1 is bullshit. One shoulndn´t blow 500 bucks on cheap plastic nonsense (Ebay imports do exist) but that math ain´t wort it. Learn to sleep better.


It is also a mentality thing; if one is part of a group of people who work/out, eat, sleep, travel, and hang-out together, chances are one will be more willing (even if subconsciously) to accept the other members' little oddities (that one snores a little, this one make dry-as-paint bad pun jokes, that one can go on and on about his latest buy). When one is in a situation were they are put in a group where no-one knows anyone else, chances are that the tolerance levels are going to be lower.

Sometimes, whether or not one knows someone in the overcrowded hotel room can make the difference between "a little annoying, but still fun" to "stay away from m... I SAID BACK-OFF!"
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yamiangie



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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:22 pm Reply with quote
I think the only 4 hour line you're really going to have to deal with is the line to pick up your badge.

You know I've always suspected that cons not mailing out badges in advance is more of a man power issue than a counterfeiting issue. You have to devote time to printing up labels and stuffing envelopes. That can take time the staff could spend doing other things.
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Sailor S



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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:27 pm Reply with quote
invalidname wrote:

Does any other con mail badges in advance, and if not, why not? Is widespread counterfeiting seriously that legitimate a concern?


Some conventions don't because they need to confirm that the person whose name is on the badge is the person picking it up, especially when you're dealing with badges that specify if a person is 18+ or not. For example, Sakura-Con had badges for 18+, 16-18, and under 16 (I think those were the age ranges), so they had to make sure that the person picking up their 18+ badge really was. Other conventions require an adult guardian for anyone under a certain age, so again, proof has to be made that the guardian is old enough to chaperone the attendee, and possibly that they even have permission to do so if not an immediate family member. Finally, there's the cost. ACen has decided to work that into their operating budget, other conventions would rather spend that money on other programming. Plus, costs aren't the same everywhere. Perhaps convention facilities are cheaper in Chicago (Rosemont is it?) I don't know. But cost seems to be the default answer that most every con chair will tell you when they're asked every year.

Very good article Zac. I'll admit, knowing that you've been to a ton of conventions, and mainly just the mega conventions, I thought the advice might be tinged with a little bit of bitterness, but this was all good, solid advice. I always go with the hotel closest to the convention so it's an easy walk to and from. Even with AX, other than 2012 when the damn X-Games crapped up the way to the convention center, the walk from the JW Marriott or the Luxe is not very bad, and certainly not far enough to be taking a shuttle, but if it were, I'd definitely go with the taxi as well.

With the fan Q&A, yeah, a lot of questions are very cringe worthy, and I'm sure I've asked some dumb ones over the years too, but I like sitting through them regardless, because to me it's getting to be in the room with the voice of whomever for an hour. I understand that since you get a lot of interviews with these people and talk to them professionally that you're not as likely to get star struck, but for those of us who may see that guest one time in our lives, it's totally worth sitting there and even just listening them answer stupid crap like if they're a cat person or a dog person. At least that's my take on it.

One thing I'd say is, increasingly the industry panels really aren't worth the time. Used to be that the industry panels were where you'd get all the new title announcements. These days it's more and more rare where titles aren't announced well before the conventions. Funimation especially is just a recap panel for the most part. Some, like Aniplex and PonyCan since they're smaller and newer, will still reserve some announcements for their main convention appearances, but often times not. Some things, like concerts, are worth lining up for well in advance to me, but generally speaking, I won't line up much more than 45 minutes in advance for an industry panel.
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Zac
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:30 pm Reply with quote
yamiangie wrote:
I think the only 4 hour line you're really going to have to deal with is the line to pick up your badge.


I believe people were in line for up to 5-6 hours for Sailor Moon at AX last year. It's important to mention that last year AX smashed their attendance record and it wouldn't be a surprise to see them get 100,000+ this year - those 5+ hour lines are going to be much more common with that kind of crowding.
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psipsy



Joined: 01 Jul 2005
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:42 pm Reply with quote
Most of these things I've learned the hard way. Especially the part about not sharing a room with 8 people. The "indoor camping trip" was a lot more fun when I was a much younger man. These days, not so much.

Most 20-something attendees are still going to pack a room because they probably can't afford a whole room to themselves either way. Or the hotels are all sold out. That said, the best alt-advice I can give if you're hellbent on putting 6-8 people in a room, be choosy about who gets to be in that room. No craigslist ads.


Last edited by psipsy on Thu May 28, 2015 1:50 pm; edited 1 time in total
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7jaws7



Joined: 17 Aug 2013
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:45 pm Reply with quote
Cool article Zac Very Happy

I've only been to a pair of medium-sized cons but I definitely remember some of the things you described. One event in particular was a nervous panel presentator whom I increasingly felt bad for as they were rambling so fast you'd barely catch on to what they were saying.

Then again, that same con I was at a panel with a professional speaker who had clearly done this for several years. Makes me want to pick my schedule more carefully for anything I do in the future.
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CorneredAngel



Joined: 17 Jun 2002
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Location: New York, NY
PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:50 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
Consider taking taxi cabs to and from the convention.


In a convention in a major city, where the hotels are often blocks away from the convention center itself, remember public transit. And especially remember the free or very cheap buses that run all around downtown, like the LA Dash Route F (runs down Figueroa Street, in front of the LA Convention Center), and Baltimore's Charm City Circulator.
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surfKraken



Joined: 28 May 2015
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:51 pm Reply with quote
Nice tips.

My way of enjoying the cons/expo follows thus: get there early. Take 2 hour lunch during mud day when it is most packed, go back after couple beers and the crowd has thinned out.
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Hoppy800



Joined: 09 Aug 2013
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:52 pm Reply with quote
I don't go to conventions as a group, I buddy up with 1 person or go alone. Large conventions are not for the claustrophobic or the humidity challenged, I went to several alone and it's often a nightmare getting into some panels, lines aren't so much of a bother to just get in since I am an early bird but if you aren't prepare for the worst wait of your life.
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Cerceaux



Joined: 02 Oct 2011
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:53 pm Reply with quote
My tip for AX attendees is to consider picking up a Metro day pass. It's $7 for all-day unlimited use of all the public transit in the city. Pico station is right across the street from the convention center, and from there you can easily ride to fun downtown areas like Little Tokyo with plentiful and affordable dining options. There are also subway stops near some of the AX hotel blocks, and trains are a lot more frequent and dependable than shuttles.
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penguintruth



Joined: 08 Dec 2004
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PostPosted: Thu May 28, 2015 1:54 pm Reply with quote
If you go to Otakon, choose the Q&A panel for the guest or the signing for the guest, but you can't have both. When the Q&A gets out, you won't make it in time to the line for the signing, which is already too long by that point. The con staff will cut the line off at a certain point and tell the people behind that cut off point to leave. Back in 2012, this happened to me every time, and so I got nobody's signature (I tried three times). So if you're lucky, this may work, but even then, it might not.

Also, the staff is really busy and may not be able to keep up with the crowds. They may tell you a line starts somewhere or ends somewhere that has no basis in reality. Use them as guidelines, but pay attention to the crowd.
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