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…..
My wife and I got an…odd…Christmas present last year from her sister.
Tickets to the comic book/anime/game/pop culture fest known as MegaCon.
The interesting thing was that there was just the two of us….and she gave us four tickets. As we both figured, though, it was a sort of ‘back door’ set up so we’d take her son and a friend of his to the convention. It’s up in Orlando, only about an hour and a half away, so not too bad and our nephew was pretty stoked to get to go.
His first question to us was….”Who are you guys dressing up as?”
Yeah…spandex and me, we’ll we’re not on speaking terms…especially at this point in my life. I’ve been to dozens of conventions, from GenCon to BotCon to Origins to ToddCon (a friend ran his own gaming convention one year in his basement…don’t ask) and I’ve yet to dress up for any of them. This time was to be no different.
He was excited, though, and that was cool. His original idea was to go as the Fourth (Tom Baker) Doctor, but he had issues getting the long scarf so he shelved that idea. I didn’t know who he was going as until he and his friend showed up at the house this morning, dressed as Castiel from Supernatural. I also learned that the character of Castiel’s tie is always turned around and messed up…something I’d never noticed before. The things you can learn from cosplaying.
The worst part about going was getting there. I guess we picked the wrong time to head up because the traffic by the Orange County Convention Center was terrible. I took us about forty-five minutes to get from the exit to the parking lot. It should have taken us only about five…..ugh! Once we got there, though, things picked up a bit. There were a ton of cosplayers….you know…people who dress up as their favorite comic book or anime character and stroll around. I’m not big on asking people to pose so I mainly just snapped some pics on the fly of some of the ones I thought looked cool.
My only regret was not asking the group dressed as The Thundercats if they’d stop for a pic as we were leaving. They looked pretty darn cool.
A few of the cosplayers….
Usually, when I go to a Con, I tend to look at it as just that….a con. At least when it comes to some of the prices. As per usual with events like this, everything seems like it’s overpriced. We bought a half of a roast beef sandwich and a bottle of water for $13.00. Well, when they got ya…they got ya. Had we been more prepared we would have smuggled some snacks or sandwiches in with us….like when we go to the movies… *ahem*
One thing I did think was worth the price was one of my all time favorite comic book artists, George Perez, doing headshot sketches for $40.00 to help The Hero Initiative. We thought it was a great cause and asked Mr. Perez to do up a Wonder Woman for us. As I mentioned in my post about the last time I went to MegaCon, Mr. Perez is great and a real prince when it comes to the fans. He looked as busy as all get out, but still posed for pictures, shook hands and chatted, even as he worked.
He did this up in about five minutes. The man is fast and amazing.
Well worth the price and for a great cause. We also watched him draw a Zatanna for a guy and signed his name backwards. If you know anything about the character, you’ll get it 🙂
We also picked up a few other nifty things….
A couple of Doctor Who posters….
And a few nerd shirts…..
While I wasn’t too thrilled about them, my wife just had to have these magnets, so…..
All in all we had a pretty good time, though the place was packed. I will say that the crowd was pretty polite. I had quite a few people bump in to me and the vast majority of them, at least, offered a “sorry”, if not an “excuse me”. After years of going to conventions, you start to notice these small details. Another small detail I tend to notice are the smells. Way back when, body odor was the most prevalent scent wafting through the air, but I guess the crowds have matured and evolved as I think I might have smelled it just once. I know….strange…but still, it’s a part of the experience.
Unlike the last time I attended MegaCon, this year they had all the celebrities and faux-lebrities (yeah Wil Wheaton, I’m looking at you) behind curtains so you couldn’t even get a look at them unless you paid for the privilege. This, at least to me, wasn’t worth the price.
To be totally honest, this really turns me off about the convention experience. I mean, honestly, do they think some guy, taking a pic with his phone camera, at fifty feet, is going to cut into their “Have A Picture Taken With Harry Potter’s The Weasley Brothers for $60.00” business? I have no doubt that people will still pay for the up close and personal experience, but I guess the convention organizers weren’t as confident.
Oh well, those kind of things are to be expected when there’s the potential for money-making and, as I said, we still had a great time and the ride home was so much nicer than the ride up.
Maybe we’ll go again next year, so check back then and I’ll let you know.
Until next time…
Well, first off, I’ve been looking at a new Marvel blog with some really neat stuff from the 70s and 80s and I’ve been getting nostalgic for the older, simpler, books. I mean, just look at the price of the above book….$.50! These days you’re paying almost $4.00 and, a lot of times, you’re getting nothing but badly plotted books whose only purpose is to hook you into needless crossovers (Yes Secret Invasion and Blackest Night/Brightest Day, I’m looking at you..)
Secondly, I had a chance this past March to go to Megacon ,in Orlando, and actually saw George and Marv (I can call you George and Marv, right?) in person. Maybe it was just me, but how these two seemingly different personalities could put out such greatness like the New Teen Titans is a mystery.
I first met George Perez waaaay back when we both had hair, around 1986-87 (I’m guessing on the dates) at my local comic book store, Comic Book World. I remember being so excited when I heard he was coming, but then thought, “oh man, what if he’s a jerk….what if he won’t sign my copy of Titans 1?” Well, he wasn’t a jerk. He was extremely nice and did sign my copy of Titans 1 (we were told that we could only bring one book in for George to sign or I would have brought more) as well as other things that people brought. In fact, while he talked, he signed almost every issue of NTT that someone had brought in, obviously this person didn’t get the ‘one book per person’ memo. I remember asking him about the White Tiger, a character he was obviously proud of and how he got into comics. Standard stuff, really, but George answered every question as if it was the first time he had heard them. A real class act all the way. At Megacon I saw him at his booth and was going to talk to him, but he was busy doing commissions and was telling someone he didn’t have time to sign anything….then signed it anyway and stopped for a picture. Again reinforcing my view as one of comic’s nice guys. If I had been more bold I would have spoke to him but, again, I didn’t want to disturb the man’s work.
Then, as we made our way around, I saw Marv Wolfman’s booth. Having never met Marv before, I didn’t recognize him until I saw the banner, so my fiance’ and I went up to meet the other half of amazing NTT creators. First off, he was sitting alone with everyone passing by and not stopping, or even glancing over (remind me to tell a similar tale of Spike from the Buffy show, sometime..). When we got up there, I saw that he had a bunch of scripts from the anime Teen Titans Go! cartoon spread out….and priced. No big deal, a guy has to make a living, right? Well, anyway, I went up and said something to the effect of ‘nice to meet you, a big fan of your work’ to which he replied ‘thanks’ and then looked past us to all the people walking by. No big deal, it’s not like I’m a dynamic personality, or whatever, to him I was probably just another fanboy. No attempt at any conversation,though, nothing from ole Marv. I then picked up a copy of one of the scripts, as we basked in the awkward silence, and mentioned that I didn’t know he had written for the cartoon to which he replied, “Yeah, they’re for sale…want to buy one?” I politely declined and left. Now, I don’t want to be too harsh on Marv. For all I know he could be a really nice guy and just having a bad day or a million other things going on in life and I just caught him at a bad time, but, ya know, when you’re at a con you need to realize that people are going to want to come up and just chit chat. I’m not saying you have to sit there and talk to them for any lengthy period of time, but more than ‘want to buy my stuff?’ It just didn’t sit well with me and I know that everyone’s different and that some writers (and artists and anyone else in the comics biz) are, well, dorks/nerds/socially retarded, whatever label you want to slap on them, but I guess I just expected more from someone so prolific. Maybe I was more disappointed than I should have been, but that meeting has been bugging me since March.
Marv, if you’re out there, I still love your work but don’t be looking for an invitation to dinner anytime soon, ok?