Wondercon is my first major convention of the year and due to that I tend to look forward to this convention. Not only is this an event where there is sometimes too much to do, but it is also the first event this year where I get to run panels. This year we went to the event with a mix of excitement and worry. There was a lack of key panels we normally attend and that led to worry, but there seemed to be enough content to keep us busy. This year didn’t seem as good as previous years, but it was still an enjoyable event. Wondercon 2019 was an event filled with some contradictions that made for a very different experience.
The location of the event is the great Anaheim Convention Center which has plenty of parking and an easy to get to drop off zone. The traffic in the area can be a little problematic, but if you get there early then you shouldn’t have much trouble. The expanded version of the convention center provides all the room the event needs with plenty of rooms for panels and premieres. The staff also set up the entry line in such a way that you did not have to continuously “tap in and tap out” like previous years. The convention center also has plenty of good locations for photoshoots both inside and outside, making it a good place for cosplayers and photographers. Even with a couple flaws this is easily one of the best places in Southern California to attend an event.
There were plenty of panels to attend, but there were some key panels that were not there this year. The ‘Best Geek Year Ever’ and “Bond vs Bond” were both missing as was the majority of content put together by Mark Altman and Robert Meyer Burnett. Saturday was also a bit of a let down with very few panels that seemed interesting. While we still found things to do on Saturday, it felt like there were long gaps of nothing to do compared to last year where there was far too much to do. Sunday had a strong line up and Friday is usually a little shallow, but Saturday is usually the too much to do day. Despite those complaints, there were some great panels on all three days. The big surprise this year was the Man From Atlantis panel, but all the writing panels I hit were great for professional development. Despite some complaints, the programming, even on a weak year, is better at Wondercon than most other events.
This year we ran two panels. Our first panel was “Cultural Exchange in the Pacific Rim” this is an odd panel that has evolved over the years of running it. The panel looks at how Japan and America have influenced each other. The panel brought in a good audience and the expanded material made us think that it might be better to divide the panel into two different panels. However, the overflow of content makes it a difficult panel to run sometimes, but thankfully the audience had a good time and every member of the staff was able to add to the gestalt of the panel. The second panel was “Mythology of Final Fantasy” which always brings in a large audience. This year it was a late panel at eight in the evening, but we still had a nearly full room. The updated panel was well received and plenty of people wanted to talk after the panel as well. Even the staff was into the panel and it makes me want to run more mythology panels at Wondercon. This is one of my favorite events to run panels and I look forward to running even more panels next year.
There was more to do at Wondercon than just panels. One of the things I final got the chance to do was donating blood at the convention. I used to give blood years ago and this was a good excuse to donate and get back in the groove of blood donation. It didn’t seem very busy to me, but I also went on Saturday morning when most people will be getting their badges or arriving later in the day. While it may not be for everyone, I do recommend to try donating blood once as it is an interesting experience and your donation may save a life (or feed a vampire). The dealer hall was expansive with plenty of different booths. There was enough there to fill a good amount of time if you like shopping or if you want photos with the various photo op locations. The hall also had the booths for various guests and while lines could get crazy there was plenty of time to get your favorite artist or actor’s autograph. Even if the panel line up was weak at times there was more than enough to do at the con this year.
One of the few things that sets Wondercon apart from other large events is that it has a good vibe amongst the crowd. People are generally friendly and unlike like some other events the photographers and cosplayers do not block the halls. The staff is generally friendly and security isn’t too aggressive. The guests seem happy to be there and lines never seem to get too overwhelming. There are a few families with out of control kids, but they did not cause too much trouble from what I experienced. While there weren’t many spur of the moment conversations with random people, I did have some good talks with various panel hosts. This year felt like there were many more people, but it did not put a damper on the fun energy of the event. The vibe is one of Wondercon’s strongest points and hopefully it will remain a strong point for years to come.
Wondercon does have some weak points such as the crowds, the weaker schedule, and the dealer hall set pieces were often hard to find. However, the good aspects of the convention outweigh the bad parts. Compared to most events Wondercon 2019 is a superior convention, but compared to previous years this was a weaker outing. I had a good time, but it just wasn’t as amazing as previous years. I do recommend Wondercon to anyone who has a love of pop culture and wants to have a great fan experience. It might not be as strong as last year, but it is still a great event and I hope that next year will be back to standard. Overall, I am looking forward to next year and eagerly await the rest of this convention year.
- Now things are heating up
- Two panels
- Who wants Ice Cream?
- You want my blood?
- RE5: Take my blood!
- Note to self: don’t forget your notebook
- No shopping for me
- Next cosplay: Something I can wear in the summer
- Hiding inside
- The Man From Atlantis
- Professional development
- Battery problems
- Space Command!!!!!
- Rough start, good ending
- My List Never Got Finished