Legend tells of a magical place, a land of wonder, that appears once a year…only for three days….in the tiny hamlet known as Ore-lahn-doe.
The local bards calls it “Mega Con”.
The rest of the world calls it……well, they call it “Mega Con”, too.
Since we started going to Mega Con, about three or four years ago, we’ve always just drove up for a day, walked around, then drove home. It’s really hard to get the “whole experience” that way so, this year, we decided to do it “right”.
We ordered advanced tickets and booked a room for the entire con that was, according to the description, only a block away. The Hyatt Regency has to be one of the nicest, swankiest, places I’ve ever stayed. Seriously. Our bathroom mirror had a t.v. in it, for pete’s sake!
There was also four restaurants, two convenience stores, two bars, two pools (a huge one on the ground floor and a terrace one on the third), a tennis court, and a coffee shop. The one restaurant was open twenty-four hours and you could also get room service pizza.
I didn’t take near enough pictures to do it justice, but it was a very nice looking place.
Chalk it up to my not getting out enough, but I was thoroughly impressed by this place. Now, as with things like this, nothing is for free and you really need to watch the budget or things can get out of hand and quickly. We did o.k, though, and still came in at a reasonable rate after it was all said and done.
Oh, I didn’t mention the best part. We were just a skywalk’s jaunt away from the convention building. That right there made it worth the price to stay.
We came up a day early to hang out and scope out where we needed to go the next day. My wife wound up zonking out for a few hours, so I walked up the road and did a little site seeing at the Pointe Orlando. It’s a little triangle section of about a city block where they had an IMAX theater, a bunch of restaurants and some overpriced “specialty” stores. For anyone from the Northern Kentucky/Cincinnati Ohio area, it reminded me a lot of Newport On The Levee.
As for the convention itself, there were a few snags starting out (which I let the world know via my Twitter account, just as any self-respecting geek would do), mainly with the organization for the ticket lines. We had bought advanced tickets which meant we were supposed to just walk up to the window and then walk into the dealer area. Well, it wasn’t quite that easy.
We stood in line for an hour and a half, actually wrapping around in a circle, before we could even get down to the place where you picked your tickets up. We asked a few of the volunteers if we were in the advanced tickets line (because it was a huge jumble…no kidding) yet no one could seem to tell us ‘yes’ or ‘no’. About an hour into it someone who actually knew something started directing us to the entrance….where we took the escalators down to another line to actually pick up the tickets. That line, thankfully, moved a lot quicker than the upstairs “hurry up and wait” line and was still quicker than the V.I.P. line….which I would have been hacked off had I paid all that money and they only had one window dedicated to servicing said ticket holders. Anyway, we get up there and they give us, for three days, an armband. Most other conventions I’ve been to give you a badge (then graciously sell you a lanyard to go with it) to wear, but Megacon give you a piece of thick paper to put around your wrist. Of course I started asking if they were o.k. to get wet…I mean, discouraging people to bathe is last thing you want to do at a sci-fi convention.
Trust me…there are stereotypes for a reason, when it comes to this one.
After the ordeal of collecting our tickets, the rest of the convention was pretty enjoyable. We saw some of the stars from the original Battlestar Galactica, my wife went to see James (Spike from Buffy) Marsters while I went to an…….interesting……panel revolving around the Nintendo 3DS game, Animal Crossing: A New Leaf. While I did feel just a tad out-of-place due to my lack of anime cat ears, it was still fun. We tried to make it to a World Building for Your Novel panel, but it was clear from the huge amount of people in line in the hall that we weren’t all going to fit in the extremely small room they had set aside for the event…..things were getting a bit cramped as it was, so I didn’t want to add to the claustrophobia. Instead, I went down and got a quick sketch by one of my all time favorite artists, George Perez. He was, as he had been last year, collecting money for The Hero Initiative which is a great cause. Last year we got a Wonder Woman for my wife. This year, we got a Batman for me. After that I checked to see if Darwyn Cooke was over at his table and he was. He was also engulfed in a mass of con goer flesh and had almost as long a line as George Perez. I figured I’d come back to get him to sign my copy of New Frontier. I should have just waited as we wouldn’t see him for the remainder of the convention. I’m not sure if something came up or he was just late, but on Saturday and Sunday we went by his table, at least, a dozen times and he was nowhere to be found. Oh well, maybe next year.
After tooling around the vendor area a bit more in search of the card game, Love Letter (the limited edition version…which we found), we went back to the room and prepared to meet my wife’s nephew and his new girlfriend for dinner. This was one of the big highlights of the weekend for my wife and I. Christopher is someone we don’t get to see as much as we’d like. He’s a very bright young man with a level head and an eye for the future. His girlfriend is, truly, a gem and I can see that they really have something special between them. A good time was had by all.
On Sunday, we checked out and headed back over to the convention for one last pass. There were fewer people in the vendor area then on Saturday, so we were able to check out more of the booths that we had skipped on Saturday due to the throng of people pushing and shoving. We picked up a few games we had been eyeing, including another version of Love Letter and some tee shirts before heading back home.
Going up and staying a few days, in my opinion, is definitely the way to go to a con if at all possible. We had a great time and will probably being doing the same next year, if we’re able.
With that, we watch this mystical place fade into the distance once again. The magic, the wonder, and a good chunk of our funds fading with it.
Until next year, Megacon, until next year…..