I’ve already said how uneasy this year’s Wondercon has made me, it seems like they’ve taken forever to actually accomplish anything, announce anything or even take people’s money. For most big conventions, like Wondercon’s big brother San Diego Comicon, they know, the year before, when the next year’s convention is going to be. I’ve seen them offer pre-registration for the next year on Sunday the year prior.
As far as I’m concerned, that’s how it ought to be done.
I know that Wondercon has it’s own issues, they haven’t been sure if it will stay in Anaheim or go back to San Francisco, although I think they’re crazy if they consider going north again since Anaheim draws many more people and much more money. However, this year, they didn’t even announce that there would be a convention until the end of November, fully 7 months after the previous convention! Then they didn’t start taking memberships until February and didn’t start taking pro registration until the middle of March, just a month before the convention! This, as far as I’m concerned, is simply unacceptable.
Therefore, I’ve been quite hesitant about this year’s convention and frankly disappointed by most of the convention preparation. When they finally put up the schedule for the year, instead of finding tons of events and panels we wanted to see, we came up with a grand total of 4. Yes, 4. And 2 of those were things that we’d sit through if we had nothing better to do. There just doesn’t seem to be a lot of interest going on this year. Last year, there were tons of panels we went to. This year looks like we’ll spend it mostly in the dealer’s room.
Now keep in mind that everything before this, I wrote before the convention began so let’s see what actually happened on Friday of this year’s convention, starting… wait for it… not yet… coming up soon… NOW!
Unfortunately, pretty much everything I predicted that could go wrong, did exactly that. It was actually a bit worse than I predicted. Let’s start from the moment we got there. They changed the registration check-in from Hall E, where it’s been for the past 2 years, to Hall A, all the way down at the other end of the convention center. They had no signs at all. They had a guy standing at the door to Hall E telling people to go to Hall A, after they had walked all the bloody way down to Hall E to begin with. Then, when you got to Hall A, there was no sign saying that exhibitors and professionals went to a different place. There was just a cattle call line for regular attendees, plus a guy way the hell down at the end of this massive line telling professionals and exhibitors to walk all the way back to the head of the line and inside the building, where there were no bloody signs directing anyone, you had to ask someone where the hell to go. No signs, at all, it was stupid. Granted, it wasn’t as slow as it has been in past years but the process was absurd. Plus the fact, when you got to the front of the line, if you had any guests or minors with you, instead of handing you a nametag with their name already on it, they got a blank one to fill in themselves. That wouldn’t be a big deal, if on the online registration, they didn’t make you fill out “Preferred name to be printed on badge”. They ask what name to put on there and then didn’t actually print any badges? What the hell? Oh yeah, the tables where they directed you to write your name on the badge, they had no pens provided.
And the reality is, this is a smaller convention than in past years, mostly because of their bad preparation. Their dealer’s room is much smaller and it seems, although it’s just my guess, that there aren’t as many people on Friday as there were last year. This is exactly what I warned about.
Also, and this isn’t the convention’s fault, but the convention center wifi was completely screwed up. We couldn’t log on until the end of the day, and there were three different servers, two for the general population and one for exhibitors. The exhibitors I talked to were pissed, they couldn’t run credit cards. Most of them had those little cell-phone plug-in card readers but with no wifi, they had to use cell phone data, which gets expensive. Nobody was happy.
On the good side, we did sit in on a panel that was quite entertaining called Remakes, Reboots and Requels, where industry creators and writers discussed Hollywood’s love affair with doing the same damn thing over and over and over again. While we really just went in there to get off our feet (we’re too damn old for this kind of thing), it was very interesting and, no surprise, everyone agreed that the Star Wars prequels sucked donkey dick on every conceivable level.
I’ve already said the dealer’s room was small, but amazingly, we found a few things that we wanted to buy. Last year, based on the 2012 convention, we assumed that a dealer with a bunch of gashapon would be there but they weren’t, which was a major disappointment. This year though, there are several dealers and we picked up a couple of interesting things and plan on getting more tomorrow.
There didn’t seem to be as much cosplay around as in previous years, or at the very least, not as much exceptional, show-stopping cosplay. Lots of people in hall costumes but very little stood out. I think this is the lowest picture-taking day I’ve ever had at Wondercon. I know my daughters are going to the Homestuck gathering tomorrow and there were a considerable number of Homestuck cosplayers around so who knows, maybe tomorrow will be more interesting.
And oh yeah, the religious crazies were there again in force, using the same old tired signs they used last year. Come on, if you’re going to harass us, at least have the decency to come up with new material! I don’t know if they’ve been warned by the police or convention center, but they were not at all willing to engage people this year, they just stood in place, statue-like, holding their signs. They didn’t move and they didn’t talk unless someone walked up to them and specifically asked questions. I saw at least one of them had little ticket-stub things, I suppose they were invitations to their church but I didn’t see them really handing them out to many people, mostly they all just stood there like the Buckingham Palace guards. I know on Sunday, we’ll see people actively trying to engage them, maybe they’ll be more fun then.
I’m honestly not trying to put the con down, but there were some mistakes this time around that were pretty unforgivable, especially for a convention that’s been around for 28 years now. I want it to succeed, I want it to be an amazing experience, but they don’t seem to be learning from their mistakes. Their signing is still horrible, nigh non-existent. I didn’t see any horrible miscommunication this year, although they did have some really dumb policies, for instance, they have a wide open door to the dealer’s room, with someone standing right next to it telling people they have to go down to the other end of the hall to enter. If you don’t want people going in that door, CLOSE THE DOOR! It makes no sense. I guess we’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see if things get any better. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.