So you have made all your plans prior to the anime convention and spent the last few months saving all your cash. Hopefully all that cash is in your wallet before the morning of the convention as well as all your bags being packed.
It is almost time to go! Pack up those last minute items, double check to make sure all appliances are off and all other windows and doors are locked, and kiss Wolfy goodbye. It is time to hit the road and have a fun filled weekend at the anime convention of your choice.
First things first make sure all of your stuff makes it into the car. In the excitement one can forget a bag or two and you only notice it is missing once you get to the hotel. Check the house over to see if anything jumps out at you that you missed packing up. And don’t just shove your luggage in the car, especially if there are more people in the car. Things can get mushed pretty easily and things will probably squished as it is.
Before you take off towards the convention make sure you or the driver has directions to get to the location. Or that you have the exact address written down so you can type it into your GPS unit. If your hotel/convention center is right off the highway you might be hit with a slight right before you know it and BAM you are lost. Directions are our friends. XD
Next is the car ride itself. Personally I fall asleep on most trips because I can’t stand to see how fast my husband is going. But for more considerate people I am sure they stay awake and have excited conversations about the upcoming convention. Or bring some anime CDs to get in the mood. Or perhaps you will all play some silly road games. But if you are like me and rather sleep, make sure that your pillow and blanket aren’t in the trunk. XD
After a long (or maybe not so long) car ride you have arrived! Before you make your way over to the convention center or the parts of the hotel where the con is going on you need to check into the hotel. Depending on the time you might be able to get into your room. As a general rule most hotels allow you to check in when you arrive but you will not be able to get your particular room until around three. Even though you are not getting your room until around three doesn’t mean you should wait until three to go up to the counter. It will be full of people picking up their keys. So if you are the person booking the room this is where you should head to first. The person making the reservations should be the one talking to the hotel people and have their credit card handy.
I would like to say I am not telling people to fill their rooms with 15 people. Not going to say that at all. But if you are going to have more than 4 people in your hotel room chances are that breaks hotel “fire code” and you would get in trouble if they found out blah blah. So if you are going to have a lot of people in your hotel room don’t all go up to the counter and ask for a key for each person. Have the person with the reservation get several keys and suck up the fact that you have to buddy up with someone and share a key. This is also why you should bring your own blankets and pillows, so housekeeping won’t go X_X when you ask for 9 extra pillows.
So after the hotel check in situation is handled and the car is moved from the check in spots (don’t leave your car at the check in station!!!) it is time to pick up your badges. XD Of course if you are a smart cookie or lucky enough to travel on Thursday and check in and pick up your badges already skip right on to the fun. But for most it is time to battle the lines. Depending on if you prereg or not the line might not be so pretty. If this line happens to be outside make sure you have some water with you. And make sure your hotel mates are with you so you can talk in line and be generally less bored. Hopefully the line is not too too long and maybe you can snap some early cosplayers walking by. Or maybe you can snag an extra convention guide book and start planning your weekend if you haven’t already.
Depending on how early you got to the hotel/convention center it might still be early in the day and not all the activities are started yet (the line for the dealers room seems to start way early). Take this time to actually eat some food and explore the surrounding areas for potential food sources. Also you can locate all the different rooms and convention areas beforehand. It’s not fun running around 10 minutes before a panel trying to find a room in the middle of nowhere.
Once you are hydrated, fed, and are slightly familiar with your surroundings it is time to experience the convention! XD Now since every single convention is different and people like to do different things I am going to stop giving you a timeline of what to do and just suggestions and helpful advice on common things that are done at an anime convention.
If you are already in costume and your costume has a prop you need to get it checked at security. Every convention has different rules regarding props and different methods on checking props in but you need to get it checked before you do anything else at the convention. Most will peace bond it somehow, letting other convention workers know that your weapon has been checked. Of course your prop should be within convention rules because being the responsible person you are you went to the convention website and checked to make sure it was okay. So this process shouldn’t take that long and soon you can go on your merry way. Just be careful with that prop.
As a general rule try to be considerate of your fellow convention goers as well as the normal people at the hotel. Hotels are generous enough to allow the convention to use their facilities. Don’t mess up the contract between the convention and hotel by acting like a nut. Don’t hog the elevator by riding it up and down like a moron. Don’t throw crap off balconies. Don’t leave your trash all over the place. Don’t go around smacking people with yaoi paddles and glomping people. Yes you are there to have fun but being a moron is not fun. If enough people act like that the convention can lose its contract and have to find somewhere else to host the convention. That and you will piss people off.
The dealers room is an excellent source of fun and a place where you can donate your precious money to the anime gods. But before you go insane and spend your 6 months worth of savings in 2 hours stop and walk around the whole dealers room first. I know that is a hard (believe me I know) but some booth tend to have the same things and will be priced a little differently. Or maybe a huge price different. The point is you might pick up a really cute figurine at one booth for 25 and find it later for 18. You do this a few times and you have wasted 50 dollars already! 50 dollars you could have spent on other stuff you probably don’t need but must have. So shop carefully. If there is something you really want but want to check to find it cheaper elsewhere make sure to mark it on your program guide and come back later. Sometimes I take pictures of the item I really want (gotta ask first before the vendors get mad) and it helps remind me to look for that certain item later.
Sometimes you walk around the entire dealers room you will note that some items are relatively the same price. And still that price is still a little high. You might have done your research before hand and realized the going internet price of said items. Now you have to stop and think is it worth getting the item now or waiting and saving a little money. And is the item cheaper on the internet but with shipping it makes it equal with the convention price. Just things to think about as you spend your cold hard cash.
Remember to be polite in the dealers room. If you want to take pictures of a cosplayers do it off to the side and not in the middle of the walkway. Don’t stand around and have conversations right in front of tables and not look at the merchandise. Other people might want a closer look. Remember to keep a close eye on your stuff as not everyone is going to be honest and lovely. Most dealers won’t have credit card machines but if they do, it is really -____- to use a card for a purchase under 5 dollars. Sure they will run it and all but it with the fees they incur it is really not worth it for them.
The artist alley usually goes hand in hand with the dealers room, sometimes even in the same room. It usually consists of fellow congers selling their homemade (or should be anyway) merchandise. Most booths with have prints and sketches of anime characters or original creations. Some booths might have plushies, key chains, or stickers. Most booths will have reasonable prices and will most like be one of a kind pieces. Again don’t camp out at someone’s booth and take up space for someone who is willing to look at the art work. I would also wait on making any major purchases until you get your hotel room and can properly store the pieces. Be considerate since these people made the merchandise and have actual feelings connected to these works.
When purchasing things in the dealers room or the artist alley always make sure you have enough money to eat for the whole weekend and to get home (gas money, train ticket, ect.). It is easy to drop a lot of cash at conventions before you know so beware. Keep your food and transportation money separate so you won’t be tempted to spend it all.
When attending any panels or events you need to show up before said event starts. Depending on the size of the convention you are attending will determine how much time in advance you need to arrive. The smaller the con the smaller the lines. But for huge conventions lines for the more popular events like the costume contest/Masquerade can start two or three hours before the event. If you are looking to get an autograph from a special guest note that if the autograph time is 12-1 that means the guest will leave at 1. That doesn’t mean if you get in line at 12:55 you will get an autograph. Hopefully the volunteers/people running the event will cut off the line so you won’t waste your time hoping against hope.
When you are in an event/panel be respectful. Yes it is a time to have fun but if the panel is focusing on the person running it talking you need to be quiet. It’s okay to talk and add your own commentary in certain events but a generally rule of thumb is be quiet. Especially in viewing rooms. Also be mindful of your costumes and take off large hats and move large props so everyone can see.
When your group’s hotel room is ready make sure you get your key/go to the room as soon as possible. That way you can make claim on your bed/spot on the floor. Space will probably be limited especially if you have cosplayers in your room. Try keeping your stuff in one spot in the room and take your toiletries out of the bathroom when you are done using them.
Try to knock before you open the door. Yes it is your room but people might be in various states of undress and you don’t want to expose them to a hallway full of people. Same goes with the bathroom. And in regards to the bathroom you are probably are going to have very limited use. Try not to take long showers if you are sharing with tons of people. They want hot water too and might need to use the bathroom while you are showering. Try putting on your make-up in the room itself to free it for other people.
Sleep is important. While I am not saying get the recommended 8-9 hours of sleep try to make sure your head touches a pillow for at least 5 hours a night/day/sometime in a 24 hour period. I know you are caught up in all the events and the convention brags about 24 hour events but you don’t need to be up those 24 hours. Your body needs rest or you will pass out and miss the convention anyway. Sleep might be hard to come by if you are sharing a room with tons of people. Before hand try to discuss with your roommates that certain hours are sleep only hours and if people want to go out partying they need to do that somewhere else.
I am about to be harsh. But know it comes from a kind and gentle place and I am not trying to embarrass anyone.
But most con goers smell. Every single con report out there mentions con funk and how the game room is the worst place to be in the convention. There has been talk of Frebreezing people as they walk by and handing out free deodorant at conventions. Please don’t be one of them. I think it is common sense how to not be one of them but clearly that is not the case. If you wear the same costume three days in a row you will smell. Costumes tend to make people sweater and many conventions take place in the summer. So as much as you like your most favorite costume in the world please don’t wear it all three days. Or apply deodorant every hour if you love it that much.
The point is every needs to stop smelling. It is tough going in the dealers room and someone next you smells like they haven’t bathed in a month. Just because it is a weekend of fun doesn’t mean basic hygiene goes out of the window. I know a 15 minute shower/teeth brushing/deodorant applying cuts into convention time but that is a sacrifice you have to make for the good of your fellow convention goers. Don’t wear the same Naruto shirt all three days. I am not sure what else to say because I can’t understand the con funk phenomenon myself. I always worry if I am one of those people and carry deodorant around just in case. Do the same people.
You also need to schedule time to eat. I know that also cuts in on your anime fun time but so does a trip to the hospital when you pass out from missing 5 meals in a row. Start looking for food when you get a little bit hungry. Chances are by the time you either locate a restaurant or reach your hotel room you will be ready for a full meal. Don’t start this search once you are MOG starving and dying in the hallways. It takes time to walk to the nearest fast food place or even drive there. So while you might have 5 things scheduled back to back that you want to see you still need to eat. Get a Subway sandwich or pack something you can carry around when you have a list of nonstop fun going on.
Call your momma/roommates you have left behind. I am 25 years old and I still call my mom whenever I go out of town, usually right when I arrive so she knows I am not dead on the highway. Yes parents worry and that is not going to stop once you turn 18. If you don’t call every day call at least when you arrive at the hotel and before you leave to come home. That way they will have better peace of mind.
At most conventions there will be happy cosplayers walking around and posing for pictures. Before you go crazy and start taking pictures follow a few simple etiquette rules. It is not polite to run up to a cosplayer and randomly snap a shoot. Always ask before you start clicking. Don’t take a picture when someone is eating or otherwise busy with something else. Just because they are in costumes does not mean they are posing for pictures the entire time. Don’t tell them to do outrageous poses or anything dangerous. Try not asking for pictures in tight spaces or in the middle of busy hallways. Remember to say thank you. XD
The bigger conventions have scheduled cosplaying gatherings. Usually it characters from a particular series all getting together and takes pictures as a unit. Like everyone from Tsubasa/the CLAMP universe will gather at a certain time and pose for pictures. If you are interested in cosplays it is worth seeking these schedules beforehand. Cosplay.com is the best source of cosplaying gathering information. Go to the forums and check under the US convention section.
Don’t lose your convention guide book and check it often. There is always something to do. Some conventions even have an anime channel so you can still experience the convention while chillin in your room and doing that thing called eating. A good anime convention should never have you feeling bored for too long. Check out some panels even though if you aren’t too sure on their description. You might have more fun that you think.
Be careful of your surroundings. Especially if you are a girl. I am not saying that girls are weaker and can’t take care of themselves. But in most cases of something bad happening to someone at a convention it is a girl. Some con goers play up the stereotype of never interacting with females and MOG if you are dressed up as their character surely you are them and act the same way. In rare cases people go way too far by stalking and following girls around convention centers. This is why you never go anywhere alone. If this creepy behavior frightens you in anyway do not hesitate to tell a staff member either at the convention itself or the hotel. Chances are if they are bothering you they are bothering other people. You need to protect yourself and not worry about the feelings of others. If you cannot find a staff member get to an area with a lot of people and tell them what is going on. Chances are that will at least scare off the would be creep and you are protected.
In fact any funny business is going on please let the staff (hotel or convention center) know. If you see someone harassing other people or someone stealing in the dealers room let someone know. Sometimes when people are getting harassed they are too scared to say anything themselves. Look out for your fellow con goers. Don’t let a few bad apples ruin it for all of you.
And remember to have fun! Sure I am giving you a lot of rules but the key is to have fun. Strike up conversations while in line. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or interact with other people. Sometimes the most interesting moments at a convention center are the unplanned moments you have with your friends. Plastic cups make good cellphone holders true facts!
Check-out time is usually around 11 am. You can request a later check-out time but that is usually only extended by an hour. If you are not out by a certain time they will charge a late fee or even another day onto your bill. That is an expense that is really avoidable. The night before you leave organize your stuff so it is a little easier to pack in the morning. Use your handy dandy notebo… err list and double check that you have all your stuff. If you are one of the last people to leave the hotel room check under the beds and in all the drawers for forgotten items. And remember most of the convention will be checking out at the same time you are as well. So if you get up to the desk at 10:55 they might not get to you for a while and you will get the stink eye. FEAR THE STINK EYE.
Leave the convention center at a reasonable time so you can get home safely. Yes you want to stay until the very last event but if you live 5 hours away and the last event isn’t over until 7pm you won’t get home until after midnight. It is hard enough driving 5 hours without having to do it in pitch black darkness. If you do decide to leave that late please switch drivers every so often so no one gets too tired.
Woot! You have survived your fun anime weekend. Unpack, take a well deserved nap…and blog about your adventures. XD Or at the very least post pictures on the internet so we all can share in your adventure. XD Some conventions have feedback sections on their forums. If something went wrong or you think there is room for improvement please leave feedback. But don’t post stuff like “the hotel sucked”. Be specific so the problem can be fixed for the future.
It is typical to experience post con sadness. You were surrounded by your favorite hobby and those who share interest in your hobby. Now it is back to work or school. Fear not for the anime convention season will be upon us again next year. For now don’t forgot to set that alarm clock for your real life obligations and get your anime fix via the internet.
And remember all three of the Attending an Anime Convention posts are simply a guideline. I am sure there are things I left out or don't apply to you. But they should apply to most people's situations and give them a general idea of what to expect. If you want more details about a specific convention check out that particular conventions feedback thread from the year before or google blogs about that convention. I just hope these three posts are somewhat helpful and aid the newbies as they enter the big bright world of anime conventions. Thanks for reading!!!
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