Hello faithful readers, and everyone else. The last two days have been fun filled days for sure as I have spent them at one of my favorite places, Salt Lake Comic Con. I thought I would give you a rundown of the last two days, what worked and what didn’t, and some of the highlights for me so far. If you’re planning on going today, then hopefully you will find this information helpful.
If you have been following the con at all on Facebook or checking at the hashtags on twitter, then you have probably seen a few comments on the line situation. Thursday was bad. I saw comments from people who waited hours and hours to get in, despite having pre-registered at one of the Megaplex locations. Many who were VIP or Gold ticket holders spent so much time in line that they barely got to spend any time in the con itself, some never did make it in. I know I saw a line of people who had pre-registered, had their wristbands and were supposed to be in at 1 pm (an hour early) and weren’t even close to in by 2 pm. My experience was not as bad as theirs. It wasn’t great, but it was not as bad. I only bought the multi-pass. I felt like for me it was the best value. I didn’t care about getting a shirt, getting into the vendor hall an hour early wasn’t a big deal to me either, and I felt that I should be able to get into most of the panels I wanted without the VIP status. Plus, getting extra discounts on photo ops and autographs are not a big deal to me either. That’s not why I come to these things, so for me, the multi-pass was fine. I got to the con about 1:15 on Thursday, fully expecting to stand in a line. When I got there, I saw two lines. I asked the person at the back of one of the lines which line they were in. They said they believed they were in there line for people who had not pre-registered. They also said they had just regular multi-passes, so I got in line behind them. I would have preferred to ask a volunteer or someone representing SLCC, but there was no one in sight. There were red-shirts (security), but they didn’t know what each line was. So I stood in line and I waited. After about 40 minutes, and barely moving, I tweeted out that I was waiting in line, had no idea if it was the right line and had seen no volunteers. SLCC must have seen a bunch of tweets and Facebook comments come in at that time, because around 5-10 minutes later we saw about 4-5 volunteers making their way down the line, informing people of which line was which. I of course found out I was in the wrong line for general admission, and was directed to a third line that was at the other side of the entrance. I went down there, and it was much shorter outside, and inside. I waited about 20 minutes more in the registration line, and then in the line to get in to the con, but I was in just in time to make the first panel I wanted to see that day. I was one of the lucky ones. There were quite a few people that had a different experience. When I left the con at just after 8, there was still a crowd of people on both the VIP and GA sides, that were waiting to get in, and I spoke with a volunteer on the trax ride home who explained he had been one of the volunteers who had to let people know that they were not getting in that day. I felt bad for that guy, and for the people who had to wait so long in line and did not make it into the show.
That is what happened Thursday, at least for me. You can look at that and think it is super negative, that this whole line thing is a huge negative for Salt Lake Comic Con, but I don’t. It was not a good day, but what was really impressive to me was how responsive SLCC was. The next morning Bryan Brandenburg posted a comment on the Salt Lake Comic Con Facebook page apologizing and letting people know that they would have the issues fixed on Friday and it would be much better. And they delivered on that. They opened ups second entrance for folks who already had wristbands and they streamlined the whole process. When I got there in the afternoon, I did not see a line outside at all. We walked right in with our wristbands and walked right into the convention, and it was awesome. I think most people had a similar experience. I think SLCC handled this tough situation better than most large organizations would. They were responsive to what their fans were saying and were willing to recognize that some things should have been handled differently the day before. Hats off to them for doing that and for how they handled it. Hopefully this can be a learning experience for everyone, and the next FanX and Comic Con will be better.
That was way more than I had wanted to write on lines, so I’m sorry. On to other things…
For me, my two days so far have been totally different days. On Thursday I went by myself and on Friday I had my wife and 5 kids with me. You experience the Con totally different depending on the situation. Thursday was full of panels. The first 2 panels I attended were Doctor Who themed panels. As you can guess, from reading my site here, I love Doctor Who. The first pane was the best of Doctor Who, and what they had done was put a poll on the SLCC website asking fans to vote on various Doctor Who categories. At this panel, they then revealed the results, and it was a lot of fun. The best part of the panel, however, was when toward the end, Paul McGann and Colin Baker showed up, surprising everybody. You could feel how excited everyone got when the two of them entered the room. Here were 2 Doctors in a panel full of people geeing out about Doctor Who. They had their panel just after this one at 4 pm, but that was in the south ballroom, and this was in one of the smaller panel rooms, so it was much more “intimate”, which made it very cool.
After that panel, I hustled over to the Colin Baker/Paul McGann panel in the south ballroom. Part of the way, I was even behind the golf cart that was transporting the two of them from the previous panel. It was a much bigger crowd, and it always feels good to be around your fellow geeks. These two gentlemen held a great Q and A session, and were very gracious in how they answered the fans questions. I became a Doctor Who fan with the newer stuff, but have been wanting to get into the “classic Who” more and more, and seeing these two actors live made me want to go back and experience more of the 6th and 8the Doctors. They were just very nice in how the responded to the audience and the questions. One fan asked if he could come up and shake their hands, which they allowed him to do. Another asked if her service dog could come up so the two of them could give her a treat. Both agreed, and that was one of the highlights of the panel. Great job from two very talented performers.
The last panel I attended was part one of the writer’s retreat, which was an excellent panel for someone like me. I am trying to get my writing off the ground, but don’t really know how to get started. They had some excellent suggestions. This panel felt more like a class to me, in a very positive way. I had my iPad out taking notes, because it wasn’t just for entertainment’s sake that I was there.
Day one ended with me running into an old friend from my missionary days, Audrey. She was also there solo, and we ran into each other on the vendor floor. It was great to catch up a little and help her find something for her husband and kids from the con. That was the most interesting thing about going by myself. In line, I made friends with the people in font of me, and we bonded immediately, because we were all geeks. Then I went and met the folks from the Lord of the Laser Sword site (great site, please check it out here) in between a couple of my panels, and hung out with one of them at the Writer’s Retreat panel. Then I hung out with Audrey for the last little bit. Going by yourself, as a geek, to one of these conventions, does not mean you won’t find people to hang out with.
Friday was with my wife and kids. With 5 kids, for us that meant no panels, plenty of time at the KidCon and a shortened day. We went in the afternoon after school was out and the kids had some great costumes, and some great bags to carry their stuff that matched their costumes (future Geek-Craft coming soon).
The kids loved a lot of what there was to see. They were mesmerized by the wrestling matches they have going on in the middle of the vendor floor. They thought the Lego display was amazing, as well as there Lego brick artist that was there with his giant lego figures of Thor and Superman.
Our youngest spent most of her time just sitting and eating the snacks we brought for her. That’s the definition of a good day to her.
They also enjoyed the robots and just seeing all the other people in costume. The highlight for me, though, came toward the beginning of the day, when we stopped at the KidCon stage and enjoyed an acrobatic show.
The last half of the show they invited the kids to come up and participate and the loved it. Kids love to get involved.
It was a lot of fun. I will be back tomorrow with a complete review of the Con in a special edition of This Week in Geek.