Back in April 2010, we decided to branch out a bit and try out a Wizard World convention in Anaheim. We had heard tale of good Wizard World shows in Chicago, New York and Philadelphia. There were tons of stars in Anaheim that we got to meet and interact with. It wasn’t quite Dragon*Con and didn’t have the programming options of Comic-Con International shows, but it was a fun exhibit hall experience with a ton of great moments.
Today we started our second Wizard World experience. We took the day off from work and are treating this trip to Sacramento as an actual vacation. It is nice.
The weather isn’t bad, so we walked the mile or so from our hotel to the convention center, through a dead mall on K Street. We left Old Town Sacramento and walked through The Kay to get there, which isn’t a neighborhood I’d necessarily want to walk through late at night. It’d be a bit creepy.
We got in and got our VIP Chris Hemsworth packages relatively easy and walked about halfway back to the hotel to get to the end of the VIP line to get in. It turns out there were a ton of VIP tickets sold. The sales sheet inside seemed to reflect around 3000 of them. There were non-VIP passes sold through Amazon Local, LivingSocial and Groupon which lead to a crowd that included very inexperienced attendees, including one guy asking what he was supposed to do once he got on the exhibit hall floor.
The staff were also inexperienced, understandable since many of them have probably never attended a con before. We wandered the exhibit hall for the first hour or so. It was crowded with people and the prices were a bit too high for me. Maybe they will be lower when I browse again later in the weekend. There was some cool stuff like replica props from films and TV, and odd trademark violating clothing and items. I wouldn’t want to buy much of that stuff, but it was cool to see out there.
We ended up getting into the Bruce Campbell autograph line because I bought a copy of The Adventures of Brisco County Jr on DVD specifically to get it signed by him. We paid our $40 and we were 5th in line behind VIP. Somehow after a lot of stupid logistics issues, we ended up first in line behind VIP, with the exception of WWE Superstar Sheamus, who interrupted the line to get a photo with Bruce. He asked where we were from and was as friendly with us as he could be in a ten second timeframe. I just thought it was cool to get a signature from the star of one of my favorite one season television shows on the DVD collection of said show.
We attempted to get in the Billy Dee Williams autograph line but he wasn’t there and we wanted to go to the Warren Davis panel, which started just a few minutes later in a conference room down the hall. Warren Davis is the creator of Q*Bert. He also worked on Joust 2, Exterminator, Revolution X and Terminator 2. He gets royalties from the Mortal Kombat series due to compression algorithms he used to make Goro fit into the attract mode. While he was scatterbrained throughout the panel, his stories were cool to hear. It was nice to hear a normal everyday engineer talk about his experience programming video games. He isn’t a millionaire or a rock star. He’s a normal guy that made a really fun game in Q*Bert. His panel reminded me a lot of the Classic Gaming Expo. We attended it one year when it took a break from Las Vegas and was hosted in San Jose. It turned out his only other panel appearance was at Classic Gaming Expo 2012. Afterward, Warren signed copies of his TwinGalaxies 2012 trading card outside the panel room for $10. He deserved $10 for Q*Bert alone. We paid him the money gladly and thanked him for sharing his stories with us.
We went back to the exhibit hall and got an autograph from a tired Billy Dee Williams. We got a cool photo of Lando signed by Lando, one of my favorite Star Wars characters. I liked Lando more than Han Solo when I was a kid because he had a purple cape. Harrison Ford didn’t have a badass purple cape, did he?
We went back to the panel room for a panel about Cosplay Fan Films which unfortunately didn’t yield any valuable insight. But hey, we beat the dinner rush by attending. We ate all you can eat pizza, pasta, salad and soup buffet at Thee Upper Crust. It was a passable dinner that was fast to acquire and convenient. It was nice to be done and after the walk back to the hotel, just plain resting for the evening at around 8:30pm.
Overall, it wasn’t really a “Wow, we really got our money’s worth” kind of day. It was a first day at a convention that doesn’t seem to have all of its bearings in place yet. We’ll see what happens tomorrow and Sunday before a final verdict can be claimed.