This year was only my second attending MegaCon, but I definitely formed some more thorough opinions of the convention this year. Let me first say that I had a fantastic time at the convention, even better than last year! We still didn’t stay the whole time, but I have heard that MegaCon will actually be extended to four days next year, and that it is May 26-29, 2016 which is actually Memorial Day weekend. I’m not certain how I feel about that … Orlando promises to be even busier at that time of year! But attaching it to a holiday weekend means it would be easy to stay for Sunday and leave Monday. And I guess DragonCon is always on a holiday weekend and works out well … Anyway, onto the details of this year’s convention.
- The Building – Last year’s con was held in the South Concourse of the Orange County Convention Center. I thought this was okay, but I was not in attendance on Saturday which is the most crowded day. Lots of other folks complained about the location, since the con had been held in the West Concourse for years, and it was a larger building. This year, MegaCon moved back to the West Concourse, and I can now understand why folks were complaining. The West Concourse building is MUCH larger; I had thought the giant room with the dealer’s hall last year was big, but it paled in comparison to the hall this year. The dealer’s area was larger, the open exhibitor space was larger, and they had a food court area attached with carts and tables.
- The Food – The West Concourse had better food options. It had at least five built in food courts kind of like you would find in a mall. Some of them served the same stuff, but each area had a set of tables and it helped to spread the crowds out a little. Plus they had a food court in the main room. There were also plenty of restaurants in walking distance. In fact, we made Open Table reservations at two for dinner to prevent long waits from the con crowds.
- The Dealer Hall – Last year, I felt like the dealer hall was really good at this convention, and this year just confirmed that. We spent a bunch of money on souvenirs, and while the hall was still very crowded on Saturday, it was definitely easier to move around than at DragonCon. There was only a single board game vendor there – Cool Stuff, Inc. We bought a couple of games, some art, some comics, and a few t-shirts. Below you can see some of the phat loots!
- Artist Alley – I did a little bit of exploring this area last year, but this year I was super excited to go hunting through this area and to meet some of my favorite geeky artists that I follow on Facebook and Twitter. I stopped and bought work from Charles Thurston, and Karen Hallion. They both seemed very nice, and I really enjoyed talking to Karen. I took a photo with her in my Hades cosplay (which she tweeted later! Squeee!), and I bought several prints, including her Star Wars and Haunted Mansion crossover series. <3 My husband and I also bought several prints from an artist named Nick Minor, including the Toothless and Elizabeth / Portal crossover above – check out his Etsy store!
- Fellow Geeks – I’m a very introverted person unless I’m around people I know well. But I felt pretty comfortable talking with some other geeks at the convention this weekend. We met a handful of friendly folks while waiting in line for our photo op with the three Firefly celebs, a nice couple at the coffee shop in the hotel, and some friendly people at the lunch tables in the food court. Even for those of us who are definite introverts, conventions make us just a little bit more comfortable since we know we are with like-minded nerds. It’s a community I’m proud to be a part of.
- Registration – Picking up advance tickets for the convention last year took Debbie and I about 2-3 hours. This year it took 20 minutes. The most confusing part of the process was dealing with ordering four tickets and receiving them all on the right phones.
- The Programming – Last year, Debbie and I went to see one panel with the cast from Smallville on it. I enjoyed that. This year, my husband went to a session on how to build a droid, and we went and caught a geek burlesque show late on Friday night. But overall, there didn’t seem to be enough programming options. It seemed like one, maybe two things going on at any given time. And the convention was charging extra for certain panels and events, like a particular Doctor Who panel and a Hulk Hogan event. There wasn’t much in the way of night time programming at all, and even the Cosmos party, which may not have been official MegaCon programming, cost extra to attend. Maybe I am spoiled by the sheer volume of programming at DragonCon, but this was the biggest lack at MegaCon for me. I did see that there was a Firefly panel on Sunday, which I would have gone to if I had been there. Why that big name panel that was included for all guests with a wristband wasn’t on Saturday’s schedule, I will never know.
- Saturday Crowds – Honestly the crowds were very manageable on Friday. But Saturday was crazy. Still probably not as bad as the Saturday crowds at DragonCon, but I was glad we got most of our shopping done early. More programming would probably help their crowd situation because maybe it would spread people out a bit more rather than all of them milling around in the same areas.
- Anime Heavy – The little bit of programming that there was seemed focused on anime and sci-fi speed dating. Both things seem reasonable to have at a convention, just might want some other options as well.
- Photo Ops – I had never purchased and done a photo op before with any celebrities. It’s just not something I get super excited about. But since each photo op purchased allowed up to two adults to be in the photo, Dad and I decided to split the cost of the Firefly Group Shot, including Summer Glau, Alan Tudyk, and Adam Baldwin. The con seemed to handle the process of lines very well. They allowed you to get in line only 30 minutes before, and the line started moving promptly at the scheduled photo time. It took us only 15 minutes to get to the front of the line for our photo. We walked in, shook hands with Adam and Alan, said hi to Summer, smiled and took our photo, and the staff shooed us out. It was $120 for 45 min in line and 30 seconds or less with the actors. I understand that they need to keep interaction to a minimum, but it felt rushed. I’d be curious to see if all the photo op experiences were this way or not. I’ve nothing against the celebs themselves, just to be clear; it was just not what I was hoping for in the experience. Regardless, the picture came out nicely. I was even complimented on my Firefly leggings by someone in line, but alas they are not visible in the photo.
That’s all for the convention itself. But I was so glad to have good company with me – my husband, dad, and mother-in-law. For my husband, I was surprised he actually went to a panel on droid building. We definitely enjoyed the dealer hall, and he encouraged me to get a 3d printed statue of my cosplay made at one of the booths. It was Dad’s first time at a convention, and I think he had a good time seeing everything, getting our photo taken, and taking photos of all the cosplay. I’m hoping he has caught the bug and will attend more in the future, especially since he is mostly responsible for me growing up enjoying so much geeky stuff! And Debbie scouted the convention out with me last year, and happily she came back again! She was a picture taking machine, and even cosplayed with me on Saturday, which was just awesome!
Tomorrow I’ll go through some of my notes from my cosplay experiences at MegaCon 2015. Cheers!