I wanted to give myself plenty of time to think about this, after all, as I’ve said, I really want this convention to not only survive, but thrive. It’s had a lot of problems and, unfortunately, the con committee hasn’t been very good about solving the existing issues, most of which are common sense. Therefore, I wanted to take some time and point out the worst problems and how I think they can be fixed, just in case the people in charge don’t have a clue what’s going on, which certainly seems to be the case.
Therefore, here’s my wrap-up for Wondercon 2014 and my solutions to the most heinous of the problems. I hope this gets back to the people in charge and they take it seriously, I know I’m not the only one noticing these exact same problems.
Parking – Parking was, by far, one of the biggest issues this year. Nobody knows where they’re going to park and clearly, the convention center doesn’t know how to rationally direct traffic. Come up with a plan. Stick to it. I understand that having people park at Anaheim Stadium is probably not a financially viable choice again, especially paying for all of the busses to transport people. It works for San Diego, Anaheim is a different kettle of fish. Still, you need better control so it doesn’t take all day to park.
Signing – A consistent problem with Wondercon and I don’t know how they can fail to fix it year after year after year. How hard is it to make a sign? The convention center has sign holders available, just make a sign and stick it in a holder! It isn’t rocket science. They need a ton of signage that directs people where they need to go, where they need to stand, etc. Don’t make it confusing and don’t make it contradictory. This year, to get to the badge pick-up for pros, you had to go through a door that read “Badged entry only”. In other words, you had to have a badge already to go in and get your badge. WTF? If you want me to produce the masters, I’d be happy to, free of charge. Where this is especially necessary is directing people to badge pickup but most areas could use some significant help.
Theme – To be honest, I’m not sure comic books ought to be the focus of your convention. Look at your dealer’s room, do you see a lot of comic retailers in there? No? Well, that’s because most people are going with digital comics, not physical ones. Your panels are stuffed full of comic-related material, how well is it doing? How many of those panels have you been doing year after year after year? Most attendees have seen them before. Change it up. Add some spice. I’m not saying to turn it into a media con like San Diego Comicon, I’m saying to cater to a more diverse list of interests.
Communication – There still seems to be a total lack of communication between the convention and the convention center. Con staff and center staff making seemingly random decisions and doing things that make no sense whatsoever. Why keep a person by an open door the entire convention, only to tell people they can’t go in that door? Close the damn door already!
Organization – Now while some of this was due to the failure of convention planning this year, it was just silly to behold. Who set up your convention floor? Some aisles were crammed tight and some, you could land an f’ing 747 in the middle of the aisle. What? How about your gaming area? Nothing was going on there. If you have a gaming area set up in the Hilton, why waste space on the floor? Why not put all of your gaming vendors over there next to the gaming area? Last year you did that. Why did you put them all the way over on the opposite side of the dealer’s room this year? It makes no sense.
Planning – This was the single most important problem this year and the one that most negatively impacted the convention. I’m sorry, you people need to decide if you’re going to move back to San Francisco, if you’re going to have two conventions or if you’re going to shut down entirely. I don’t care which it is, just do it. You cannot wait until November to make a decision. You should know, by the end of this year’s event, what you’re going to do next year. If you can’t guarantee Moscone is free the weekend you want a year ahead of time, don’t go there. Make a decision right now and stick with it. If you’re not selling tickets by July or August, you’re doing something significantly wrong.
Scheduling – Again, a huge problem. They put panels that I could have told them would be popular in the smallest rooms, such that there were huge lines (the 75th Anniversary of Batman, I’m looking at you!). The 60th Anniversary of Godzilla was in far too small of a room, while there were other panels that were in huge rooms and only a handful of people showed up. What gives? I saw some rooms that were left entirely empty the entire convention, why weren’t those used? It makes no sense.
So anyone else have any ideas? This bothers me because they ought to know better. Anyone who has ever helped run a convention should know better. Heck, anyone who has ever been to a convention should know better. I knew better by the time I was 10 years old. What’s wrong with these people? I’m sure there are some things in the background that I’m not privy to, but for most of this, there’s no excuse whatsoever and there hasn’t been any of the other years it’s happened. Go look, I’ve complained about some of the same things year after year after year and while I haven’t gone to the convention talk-back sessions, I know people who have and these have been brought up time and time again. Why don’t they listen? Why don’t they see the same problems and fix them?
Like the number of licks to get to the center of a Tootsie Pop, the world may never know.