Easter Weekend (or just Spring Break to the rest of the U.S.) held a lot of events this past weekend. You had a choice between Anime Matsuri in Texas, Sakura-Con in Washington, and many others. For me, there was only one I could pick: WonderCon in Anaheim, California. Do to the Anaheim Convention Center’s proximity of to Disneyland, many call the convention “Disneyland Con” and it is hard to argue in that as its value. However, this con is mainly about the popular arts: Comics, Movies, and TV. There is also a decent Anime presence, though mainly in the cosplay. This gives the convention a somewhat unique flavor compared to the many Anime-related conventions I go to.
Many of you long-time readers and fans of my work are most likely aware of how similar WonderCon is to San Diego ComicCon / ComicCon International and that is because it is mostly run by the same groups. So they have similar focus on western media, similar badge systems, and an overall varied atmosphere for the younger and older age groups. Sure ComicCon gets all the big-name celebrities and panels, but WonderCon has had above-average panels for the fans as well, minus the crowds and the cost. I like to refer to WonderCon as “ComicCon-lite” and I definitely recommend that fans try WonderCon first before ComicCon as the latter is definitely more strenuous on both the body and the bank.
However, the con does have a few key differences other than location and cost. This year the con implemented a badge-only area around the center of WonderCon (from the Hilton food court to the end of Hall E, including the main fountain area) that caused a lot of headaches and some bottle-necking. Many only found out thanks to Day 0 attendees who noticed signs and metal gates that were setup and posted this via social media and naturally it caused a lot of headache since WonderCon for the last 2 years have sold out of 3-Day and Saturday badges. Some say that this was done possibly as a response to the religious protesters that always appear (despite this weekend being one of their holiesttimes of the year), but if that was the case, the system failed as on Friday they managed to setup in the center of the fountains and on Saturday and Sunday right next to the food truck area only several feet from. Personally, I think this was done to control traffic as well as to discourage “ghosting” (attending a convention without purchasing a badge) but I have no official proof.
Well despite this and a couple of technical difficulties with scheduling and badges, I had a blast and this has overtaken by a country mile Anime LA as my favorite convention of 2015. It was the most varied and enjoyable convention for me both as a regular attendee and as a photographer.
Con-Rating: (Despite heat and badge areas, still a fun con to go to.)
Fun Factor: (Oh man, my enthusiasm for photography might just be restored.)