[Con Report] AnimeNEXT 2018: Closing Time

AnimeNEXT 2018 – the con that took place from June 8 to June 10 at the Atlantic City Convention Center. This was my second year attending AnimeNEXT at their location in Atlantic City! Atlantic City was easy to spot driving into New Jersey: just look for all the bright casino lights! I arrived really late on Thursday night (it was almost midnight), but the area looked pretty bright due to all the casinos.
My first night at AnimeNEXT was spent at the Showboat hotel, and then the rest of the con, I stayed at the Sheraton. Other close-by hotel options include Caesars, Bally’s, Claridge, and more. The Sheraton was definitely the closest to the con; there’s even a route you can take to avoid going outside if you wish! On Friday morning, I ended up taking a Lyft from the Showboat to the con because I didn’t want to make the long trek. It’s doable to walk, but I didn’t want to deal with the walk in an unfamiliar area. I have a terrible sense of direction and would probably get lost somehow.
At 11:30am on Friday, I attended a press tour of the Dealers Room, Artist Alley, and Video Gaming Room! It was my first time attending an exclusive press tour, and it was really cool to see the Dealers Room and Artist Alley before any attendees were in. The combined space for the Dealers Room and Artist Alley is 83,600 square feet. 70 dealers and 125 artists were housed in this huge space. 583 artists applied, so it was super competitive this year to snag a table. Even if you didn’t manage to get a table this year, I encourage you to apply next year too! I was pleased to see that staff set up “No Photography Beyond This Point” signs that signaled the end of the Dealers Room and the start of the Artist Alley area.
The Video Gaming room was really cool because it wasn’t just video games, but also some tabletop games. AnimeNEXT also got 4 VR Gundam machines. They looked so cool, and I wanted to play, but didn’t want to wait in line. I did watch it from the outside a bit, and it looked like an amazing experience. I’m sure all the Gundam fans were super hyped about these VR machines! I couldn’t resist checking out the dance games: of course, I had to play DDR, but I also tried Dance Evolution for the first time.
On Saturday, I checked out the Boku no Hero Academia photoshoot/meetup and it was huge. It’s been a long time since I’ve been to a meetup with that many people… I believe it was comparable to the Hetalia and Homestuck photoshoots I’ve been to at past cons. Con staff had to move the meetup to another location due to the sheer size (it was a fire hazard for all of us to be at the original location).
Cosplay Pro-Wrestling took place on Saturday on the first floor of the con. I can’t remember the exact time length, but it was definitely hours of entertainment. There were so many anime characters and video game characters fighting it out in the ring! You could hear it and see it literally from almost everywhere at the con. I checked it out on the first floor, second floor, and even on the third floor! Tons of con-goers attended too, and it was super easy to drop in and leave and come back since it was on the main space on the first floor.
During Saturday evening, Stella and I cosplayed from Prince of Tennis and had a beach photoshoot. The beach is so close to the con that it’s super easy to walk to the beach and shoot in the sand, in the water, or along the boardwalk. Lots of amazing photo ops! I saw lots of other cosplayers doing photoshoots at the beach, and some people even did fashion looks.
Late on Saturday night, I also checked out the dance. It was a chill crowd – a good number of people, but not too crowded. I prefer dances that aren’t too crowded anyways so people can actually dance without bumping into each other. There were rave vibes with huge flashing lights, loud music, etc. I was sad that Teddyloid couldn’t make it to AnimeNEXT this year, but maybe he’ll be there next year! I noticed that there were water stations that were never empty when I was there, so I assume they weren’t empty earlier in the night either. Good job to whoever refilled the water stations, since as all congoers know, dehydration is no fun. Remember to drink lots of water at your cons! After the dance, I basically went back to the hotel room and got ready to sleep.
Let’s talk about Sunday: the last day! Sunday is the day con-goers usually pack up their bags, check out of their hotels, and say good-bye to the con. I made one last Starbucks run with my roommates for brunch, and wandered the con floor a bit during the last day before I had to make the trek back home from Atlantic City. Before leaving, I did get to finally do a purikura booth session with two of my best J-fashion buddies! It was my one and only purikura of the con, and well worth it. My last cosplay of the con was the school uniform version of Uraraka Ochako, and it was quite comfy (especially because I was wearing sneakers) and I kept the cosplay on during my commute home too.
Looking forward to seeing what AnimeNEXT does in 2019! See you at the con~!

Written by Li Mei | IG: @pearlpeony | Tumblr: @xiaorawr | Twitter: @treizemacarons

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