If you ever wanted to know what it would be like if Comicon left San Diego and came to Anaheim, last weekend pretty well answered the question.
Wondercon, after having been in San Francisco for 24 years, came south to the Anaheim Convention Center. And while it did not fill all of the function space available (it shared space with some other some teenage girls sports events), there were enough folks just trying to get to the place to make it interesting, to say the least. It also was not helped by Mother Nature providing torrential downpours on Saturday as people tried to find parking anywhere close.
This was the last gasp of winter and it wasn’t a holiday weekend. Numbers of guests in Disneyland and California Adventure were not their summer peaks either. Imagine, if you will, what this would have been like if it had been July with the local hotel rooms full of summer tourists and parking lots already straining their capacities for a busy day at the Resort. Add to that mix all of the folks coming to Comicon from all over the world. Can you say “gridlock”? You’ll be lucky to find a room in Irwindale (35 miles away from Anaheim) at a reasonable price.
My last visit to the Anaheim Convention Center for an event may have been in the Stone Age when dinosaurs walked the halls and event spaces. It was so long ago, that the current four levels were not even dreamed of, let alone finished. Okay, so it was in July of 1978 (for Spacecon 7). A few things have changed since then.
Other than the different locations (from San Francisco last year to Anaheim this year), Wondercon was about the same. The big ballroom saw good crowds watching previews of coming films and television shows including Prometheus, Abraham Lincoln – Vampire Slayer, Fringe, Alcatraz and Once Upon A Time. Smaller rooms had panel discussions on all kinds of media and entertainment subjects from Building Your Own R2 to Voices in Animation to Marvel Television’s Animation. Dealers took up one of the lower halls along with artists and publishers of all sizes sharing their wares. Business was good, too. Lots of folks taking home that newly treasured item.
And of course, it wouldn’t be Wondercon with out lots and lots of cosplay. Some really good and some scary. (It goes as usual. Spandex is a privilege, not a right. For both men and women!) Most amusing was watching some fathers of the local girls sports teams taking plenty of photos of the anime girls wandering about. Getting inspiration for costumes for the teams, no doubt.
If there is one thing that San Francisco has above Anaheim it has to be public transit. Travel to Moscone Center in San Francisco can be achieved using convenient multiple modes of transit including bus, light rail and heavy rail. In Anaheim buses are out there, but it seemed that most people drove their cars with the resulting nightmare of parking.
Food? Oh my… What there was inside, had very long lines of folks waiting. Again, San Francisco wins as a quick walk around Moscone and you have all kinds of options at hand. Where in Anaheim, choices are fewer outside close at hand.
I know more than a few folks in the Bay Area who did not make the trip to Anaheim. Did that hurt attendance? Not really. All the folks from the LA basin made up for it in droves. What it may portend is that there exists an opportunity for a Wondercon LA as well as a Wondercon SF. Enough folks in both places can and would support these events – spaced well enough apart from Comicon, no matter where it lands. The interests attracted to both events is certainly not shrinking.
So from this little corner of the blogosphere, Wondercon Anaheim gets an A for effort as it tests the waters. A bit of better scheduling with the entire convention center at hand to meet the needs of everyone involved and I’m sure things will be just for another go.
Comicon? I dunno. Lots of potential issues, but there may be bonus points ready and waiting. Not to be overlooked, there are plenty of good hotel convention venues close at hand that could enhance the Comicon venues. Disney has two – at the Disneyland Hotel and the Grand Californian – that it could use for it’s own events. The Hilton and Marriot also have space that can handle good numbers of folks. but mix all that with a full on summer of Disneyland tourists?
Oh, the pain…