Since the subject of conventions entails a large amount of information, I’ve decided to split this topic into two separate posts. To begin, I’ll discuss the planning process that needs to be put into attending conventions. This post will cover:
- Finding a Convention
- Housing options (if necessary)
Finding a Convention
My partner and I discovered our first convention through an online friend, actually. I was talking with said friend through a Skype chat in which she announced her excitement over possibly attending a convention called Anime Detour. Since my partner and I were inexperienced in finding conventions close to home, this was the first one we ever attended; it was a 5 1/2 – 6 hour drive.
After that, though, we found better means of discovering conventions that were closer. A convention we just recently started attending is Anime Milwaukee–about 20-30 minutes away from home. Much better drive, by far.
A website that’s helpful to look at for conventions specifically in the United States is AnimeCons.com. That’s a good place to start if you’re looking for a convention that is near your home.
In order to attend a convention, you need to be registered. You will often be required to wear a badge around the convention to ensure that you’re allowed to be there–especially in particular rooms and places to shop.
The best thing to do is to register ahead of time. While conventions often offer registration upon showing up, pre-registration will make the process a lot easier and is usually convenient in guaranteeing you a pass (only a certain amount of people are allowed to avoid overcrowding).
Most conventions will have websites that offer pre-registration. All that you need to do is look at the guidelines and follow the steps to get your badge. Based off of our experience, you will most likely have to pick up the badge at the convention, but it’s a lot quicker (usually) than going through the entire registration process on-site.
Obviously, when my friend and I drove 6 hours to reach our destination, we had a hotel to stay in. Our first year, we stayed in the hotel the convention was taking place in–which was very convenient since all we had to do was go down a few stories to be in the swarm of cosplayers, but it also had its downsides.
When you’re going to a convention that is far from home where you will need to have a place to stay, there are several options to consider. You need to book rooms ahead of time before they fill up (especially if you’re staying in the hotel the convention is in). One of the things my partner and I always considered was price. The hotel where the convention took place cost more than other options.
Plus, it was nice being in a hotel down the street from the convention since it was usually less crowded and not nearly as noisy. You just need to be aware that people staying in other hotels are usually normal people who aren’t attending that convention. So, if you waltz through the hotel lobby in your cosplay, you’re likely to get some pretty odd looks.
What to bring?
Some common items to bring:
- Money/Wallet — Conventions usually have places to buy merchandise. Trust me. You’ll want money to spend.
- ID — This is pretty self-explanatory. It’s always nice to have your ID on you anywhere you go. At some conventions, they may require it when you pick up your badge.
- Camera — You’ll probably want to take pictures. I mean, there are a bunch of people walking around wearing ridiculously cool outfits. Bring something that can take pictures.
- Snacks — Debatable. Conventions will often have food places either in the building or down the street. If you don’t want to use money on more than merchandise, though, it might be a good idea to bring some food.
- Purse — Or some sort of bag to carry around. Even when you’re dressed up, you’ll want something that can carry your camera/phone/etc. Usually something small but efficient works. Sometimes you get lucky with a character who carries around a bag, so it works out perfectly.
- Cosplay — If you’re cosplaying, you might want to bring that with you. Wigs, costumes, accessories, etc. It’s also sometimes a good idea to bring some small sewing kit in case your costume rips at some point under all the stress.
In my next post, I will discuss what factors go into actually attending a convention: convention etiquette, events/things to do, etc.
Next time: Conventions Part 2: At the Con