So. This weekend was my first Con and overall it was a very pleasant experience. As usual, the trip over there was half the fun in itself, but that’s a road trip with Palmie and I.
We finally got to Panama City and had dinner in a Pirate Ship (that the 70s forgot) before heading to the hotel. Palmie’s all like ‘I see nerds, we must be in the right place’ and right until we saw the land speeder and I braked to stare at it, we seemed fairly normal. SO much for that! I also ended up with the first guest sighting (Brian from Ghost Hunters) as we entered our building.
The Con Registration Desk had closed by the time we wandered over there (right around 8:00). And, well, this is the one main issue that I had this weekend: a lack of organization. Now, no registration hours were posted on the website prior to the Con BUT since there were film screenings going on into the wee hours and a poolside mixer that evening until around 10 or so, it seemed logical that reg would be open later in the evening. Uh, no. We were told to come back in the morning, 8am to be specific. (Found out later that the volunteer that told us that was supposed to have gone to get one of the head people to check-in “stragglers” but was too lazy. Regardless, it was an issue.)
Saturday morning we make sure we’re up and dressed and headed over to the Con area right around 8am. Yeah. No one there. Finally a staffer walks up and we ask about picking up our badges and she rummages around a bit and tells us that Reg won’t be open until 10am. Uh… the first panel starts when? Oh, right, NINE. See the problem? Turned out to be some sort of mega-miscommunication and it was 2 minutes to 9 before they finally got the box of badges and list of pre-regged sheets (because yes, we were prepaid, all we needed were our badges and bags). It wasn’t just us, of course, there were some vendors who couldn’t get into the dealer room yet, either.
Thankfully this was the only real hiccup. They could have used a tighter ship when it came to scheduling and making sure the panels ended when they were supposed to, but they were pretty good about posting revised schedules as the day progressed. Palmie and I have different opinions on this matter. She says that all cons run this way (though that’s not entirely true as Spectrum had a different experience at GenCon, but whatever) but I look at it from a basic, event planning 101 stand-point: you set a schedule and you do your damnedest to stick to it. You have people available to get your attendees what they need to enjoy the day they paid for. I don’t care if some actor is running a workshop that people paid $20 a pop to attend. They paid for an hour, clear the room after that so the next group can get in. Also, having planned wiggle-room to change over areas is a really good idea–think back to high school when you had so many minutes to change classes. It is, literally, textbook.
Okay, now that that’s done, let’s get to the fun stuff. The hotel was pretty nice, not too crowded despite the various things going on (if there were more than 200 people at Wrath of Con I’d be utterly shocked), and the restaurants never had a wait (which was crazy… I don’t know exactly how folks managed that). The only panels I was planning to attend were the Ghost Hunters panels at 9 and 10 on Saturday. Everything after that were stars of shows I didn’t watch. The Ghost Hunters were fun though did start (and end) about 30 minutes late. Ended up going to the Jerry Doyle Q&A with Palmie and Spectrum and it was an absolute riot! Man! I sorta want to watch Babylon 5 now. Later that day I took in the rescheduled Art, Comics and Manga panel which was pretty cool and chatted with the moderator afterwards, being brave and self-promoting a little bit 😉 Not sure how many of my flyers got picked up, but a few did. Hey, they aren’t exactly my target audience, not really, so it was cool.
The dealer room was jam packed and kinda small BUT very fun to browse. I ended up buying a set of marabou-trimmed horns and had a watercolor caricature done on Saturday and then picked up some books on Sunday, signed by their respective authors. Not exactly sure when I’ll have a chance to read them, but I’ll add them to the stack. Also picked up a lot of cards and flyers of things to check out later and follow up on if they prove interesting.
Sunday morning I really didn’t have anything I wanted to do other than that last trip through the dealer room. That accomplished, I found a comfy chair to commandeer, took out my art supplies and penciled two pages of a Random Acts… side project (more info when there’s concrete data on that, I promise) while Spectrum and Palmie did their thing for the morning and early afternoon. Due to some interesting schedule issues and a missing Jerry Doyle (temporarily) we didn’t end up hitting the road until 4ish. Later than I’d wanted to leave, but I was getting so much work done and they were having a blast so it really didn’t hurt anything.
After stopping at IHOP for an early supper we rolled into Tallahassee a little after 7pm, exhausted but happy. Nice first Con. And I know, I know, Dragon*Con will be vastly different. I’m looking forward to it.