Kayla Ford has been attending conventions regularly for seven years. An Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering major, she’s also a member of Humans Vs. Zombies and takes photos for Kaman’s Art Shoppes.
Everyone approaches going to a con differently.
There’s the cosplayers, the micromanagers, the partiers, and so on. However what is the best way to strategy for relishing a con? At Tokyo in Tulsa (TNT) I found that a mixture of all is the best.
When you first decide to go to a con there is typically a main reason you are going there. Whether it is the one voice actor you have to meet, the game room is notoriously epic, or your friends dragged you along. Obviously this is what you are going to first address. So before going to a con research it. Make sure you research who will be there, get a hotel reservation in a nearby hotel, and gather your squad. At TNT doing all of these things made the start of the con less stressful. Also by having multiple people share one room we were able to stay on site for a relatively low price.
This was my first time staying on site and I have to say it was so worth it. In your research make sure to look at the rules and requirements. Such as not being able to take your bag into the gaming area.
Once I got to the con my weapons were checked right at the entrance, which made it convenient not having to find someone to check them later in the day. Then I grabbed a map/panel sheet and info book. The info sheet listed all panels for all days so I made sure to find all the panels I had to attend. I then scoped out the locations of all the panel rooms, artist alley, vendor room, game room, and everything else I may need to find. TNT’s location was wonderful. They had a large enough space to have a huge walkway with the help desks and two separate halls for the artist alley and the vendor room. They also had a demonstration area in the artist alley were they had various events such as the Ninja Olympics and Cosplay Chess.
When I was finding all the locations to the rooms, I noticed they even had workshops in the onsite hotel. However, many of the con goers did not notice this or had no idea how to sign up for the workshops.
Make sure to get there early. Of all the panels I attended, probably the most informative one was the first I went to at two o’clock on Friday. It was So You Want to be a Cosplay Photographer. This panel helped me learn techniques from professional photographers in the business. But even if you are not interested in photography there was certainly a panel for you. TNT had a wide range of panels since they had five panel rooms; however, some were closed for a couple hours straight.
Find out the voice actors and who their characters are beforehand. You don’t want to miss out on an autograph on one of your favorite characters. At TNT it was extremely easy to get all the autographs because everyone who was signing signed at the same time in an extremely large hall. If you don’t have something from the anime to sign you can always have them sign your badge.
It is okay to look around before buying something. Cons are notorious for spending my entire paycheck. This is especially important at large cons like TNT where vendor rooms and artist alley are extremely huge. So buying everything you liked before checking out the whole area would leave you very poor and with a lot of awesome things you can’t buy. However, if you fall in love and with the first thing you see and there is only one or two left then go ahead and buy it.
Once it gets late in the night or you don’t want to attend the panels I suggest checking out the onsite restaurant, café, and (if you are 21+) the bar. At TNT they had a nice café and bar in the same area so you could hang out with you fellow con-goers. Tthough for meals of substance, I would suggest trying to eat off site because onsite is very expensive.
Our hotel offered a service that would drive you there and back up to a three-mile radius so you can eat easily off site. However, the best part about the onsite location is that you can possibly meet and hang out with the voice actors, guests, and panelists. I was actually able to talk with Samurai Dan, the Chalk Twins, Wendy Powell, David Vincent, and Kyle Hebert. And I was able to help run one of Samurai Dan’s panels because we were able to hang out at the hotel.
I must say if you get the opportunity to attend one of his panels you should. Remember that all cons may have their ups and downs but don’t let the downs ruin the con. TNT was overall was a great con.