Well, the time is finally here. As I write this, it’s the morning of the first day of the convention and I have no idea how things will go. They were finally getting into the groove at their old venue and now they’ve moved and considering how screwed up things were their first year at the Anaheim Convention Center, I’m a little nervous how things will go today. But that said, I’ve been looking forward to this for the entire year. It’s a little farther of a drive and the parking fees are ridiculous ($30 a day or $75 for the weekend prepaid, we picked the second option) but without further ado, at least from your perspective, here’s how the first day of Wondercon 2016 went.
And it went badly. Okay, very little of it was the fault of Wondercon, I place the blame for most of it on the LA Convention Center, which is just a crap place all around. Yes, Wondercon had their typical screwups. They had very little signing. There were technical glitches all over the place, but I’ll talk more about that in a minute. In short, all of the things I’ve been complaining about since the first year they came down to Southern California. They have never really learned how to have a convention but I’ve kind of accepted that as inevitable.
But where it went completely awful was the convention center itself. First off, it is laid out horribly. Everything is really spread out. The exhibit hall is all the way at one end, the big program halls are all the way at the other, and this place is so large that you have to cross streets to get anywhere. At least at the Anaheim Convention Center, it’s all close. Even at the San Diego Convention Center where the San Diego Comicon is held, it’s better laid out. This place is just shit on a stick.
And I have no idea whose brilliant idea it was to have access to everything require an RFID swipe of your badge, but it doesn’t work and it’s obnoxious. We found out that a huge number of people’s RFID cards didn’t activate properly, meaning that every time they tried to get into anything, it didn’t scan right. It’s totally unnecessary too, what is the point of having to scan in and out of every single area you walk into? I might see it if they were saving labor by not having to have guards watching for badges, but they have those too! And when things don’t scan right, all the guards do is tell you to go back to registration to have it fixed. My wife’s card didn’t activate right and she couldn’t scan right all day. And back in registration, the line to get it fixed was a mile long and we said the hell with it until the very end of the day when the line died down. It isn’t our fault their technology sucks. Why should we have to spend another hour standing in line for them to fix something they screwed up in the first place. And because of this whole scanning nonsense, they have the whole convention center artificially walled off. You can only go into areas from certain directions because you have to walk past one of these idiotic checkpoints. We were headed to a panel and we had to go all the way downstairs, across half of the convention center and back up the other side, just because that’s where the electronic gate was. And we could have gone less than 100 feet to where we wanted to be from the other direction. It was stupid across the board.
And, of course, it’s all really badly laid out from the very beginning. We get there to park and, of course, no signs directing anyone. There are some parking lots that are reserved only for prepaid parking, which we had. It just didn’t have an obvious sign so we had to drive around looking for it. Then we get inside and there’s a long, long line for registration. We’re professionals, we go elsewhere to pick up our badges, but of course… no signs at all. We were told to go through another unmarked door, all the way across a hall, and stand in an unmarked line for pro reg. How many years have you idiots been doing this again?
So back to things that didn’t work out. The exhibit hall is definitely smaller than last year, although it might have just as many vendors. The aisles are simply thinner, meaning you get a lot of traffic jams. Yeah, and speaking of traffic jams, I wanted to throttle some of the cosplay idiots today. You know, if you’re going to be walking around a crowded hall, don’t have a costume that blocks traffic! There was this one idiot who had, I kid you not, wings that were at least 8-10 feet across and this moron was just walking down the aisles and everyone had to get out of his way because he went from one side of the aisle to the other. I was going to get his picture, but I didn’t want to give him the satisfaction of thinking I was impressed with his crappy cardboard handiwork.
Geez, what else? Some panel rooms have no microphones for Q&A, none at all, so people just have to run up to the front of the room and shout their questions. And since the convention center is so spread out, there’s nowhere for people to gather outside like they can in Anaheim. I usually get a picture of the outside of the convention center with the con banner, but this year, apparently they didn’t have one. The only good part of this is that everyone is inside and you can’t get inside without a badge, so the inevitable religious idiots will have nowhere to protest. I guess that’s some lost entertainment value, maybe we’ll get what we used to have at SDCC, with these imbeciles across the street with bullhorns, screaming at crowds of laughing fans.
Okay, all the bad stuff aside, once we got the problems sorted out, it was still fun, if constantly frustrating. We got into two panels, one on upcoming Hanna Barbera adult comics coming out from DC, which could be interesting, and the other on Thunderbirds Are Go!, which I reviewed not that long ago. I still think the whole Amazon Prime thing is kind of silly, almost anyone who had any interest in seeing it just got online and downloaded it when it aired in the UK, but hey, make it available to people for free, what the heck? It was cool getting to see the voice of Parker, who played him in the original 60s version too. And they handed out some nice swag too.
All in all, I am so happy that they’re coming back to Anaheim next year, it’s already been announced so we don’t have to go back to LA next year. In fact, the vibe is so awful that we had already agreed that unless it went back to Anaheim, we weren’t going back to Wondercon next year. We can put up with it once. We wouldn’t do it again. And I won’t ever go to another convention in the LA Convention Center ever again. I hate LA enough as it is, but geez, that facility is garbage.
So tomorrow, it’s round two. I have to be up in less than 8 hours so off I go to bed. I’m tired, I’m sore, but hopefully tomorrow will be a better day.