Regal Con is a third year con that took place on June 24-25, 2017 at the Irvine Marriott in Irvine, CA. Originally a Once Upon a Time themed con, the con aims to branch out to be more pop culture by adding anime, comic, movies, and everything fandom to this two day event. Headlining guests included Karen David, Chad Michael Collins, and Jared Gilmore from the Once Upon a Time series. Voice actor guests included Katie Leigh, Will Ryan, and Keith Coogan. Regal Con is a small convention that took place at a very classy hotel with two panel rooms, a main events hall, autograph and celebrity photo ops, and an exhibit hall. While we were guests of this event, we did want to talk about our experience. Orange County has very few and far between pop culture events that are small and family friendly. When someone asked us, “Is this con worth attending?,” our copy editor and I had to think about that for a moment.
I feel that the people that you surround yourself with at these events make up the event’s culture. Every con is different in achieving this. Larger events feel impersonal. Small events have their charm. We ran seven panels during the weekend. The staff was very friendly and accommodating for taking care of our audio and visual needs for our panels. We very much appreciate the effort put into that. However, the information on the program and website had conflicting information on what rooms were assigned to who. For example, “Los Angeles” and “Irvine” meeting rooms were listed on the printed guide. Both “Los Angeles” and “Irvine” rooms are adjoining meeting rooms. The secondary panel room was in “Ballroom C.” Signs outside these rooms (even on whiteboards) that had the panel schedule could have eliminated this confusion. I felt bad for the panelists who were also confused where to go and for the staff who were unaware of this confusion. However, we all worked together to figure who had what room at what time.
Jared and I did not see much of the event as we were running panels for a majority of the time. When we weren’t running panels, we were either exploring the exhibit hall or the hotel grounds. The exhibit hall consisted of artists, fan organizations, and exhibitors. There was a pretty sweet variety of who were present. There were people selling pop culture themed wares such as iPhone 7 cases, engraved glasses, Pokemon phone chargers, etc. Artists were selling prints. There were even jewelry and prop makers from various sides of fandom – Star Wars, steampunk, Disneybounding, etc. I felt that the exhibit hall had a variety of things to check out – it wasn’t the same funko pop booth on repeat. Vendors, artists, creatives, fan groups, etc were very friendly to talk to in between running panels. We also made new friends just by talking to people in the exhibit hall.
The location may look expensive to run a small two day con, but there were a ton of places to do photoshoots – including these giant lawn chairs. The pool side has a few hedges and palm trees for more natural types of backgrounds. Right behind the dealers hall, Amber Arden, showed me a giant hedge (see title image) for more background. The lobby had some cute retro looking lounges for photos and hanging out. There were even charge ports for phones. The downside to the location was the limited amount of eateries within walking distance. Jared and I, because of our schedule, brought outside food to Regal Con. It was no issue to security or the hotel. The only place to eat was the hotel restaurant. Most friends did their post-dinner thing at the Irvine Spectrum.
Main programming consisted of industry Q&A with actors from Once Upon a Time and a cosplay contest on both days. Both cosplay contests awarded the best in show with Adobe Creative Suite. We were encouraged to sign up for it, but it conflicted with our schedule. However, we did appreciate the positive encouragement from staff. This would have been a good one for first timers to check out – from second hand information, there was no pressure and people were generally supportive as first timers in contests can feel overwhelmed. There were also several cosplay how-to and community themed panels as well as career focused panels for people who want to get into the technical side of the entertainment industry – editing, graphic design, etc. Programming had a nice mix of industry, fandom, and more. We just wished more people knew about Regal Con to take advantage of these networking opportunities.
Our favorite panel would have to be the Weird Hollywood with Joe Oesterle Q&A. Joe showed photos of his findings of odd places in the Los Angeles area. Joe also talked about his interviews with Los Angeles local celebrities such as Angeline the Billboard Queen. There was a lot of behind the scenes talk of getting this book together. Unfortunately, Joe was only at Regal Con for a day. It would have been nice to pick his brain, however, this does give us something to read.
Overall, Regal Con is not a bad con. Regal Con does have some road bumps and hiccups that can be easy fixes. I can see how they are transitioning for a single focused event to a multi-fandom pop culture event. The staff is very friendly and accommodating, I really do feel this con has potential to becoming one of Southern California’s first smaller / medium sized pop culture events that have the charm and community of a >5,000 attendee type of event that Southern California has been lacking. There’s been a ton of anime conventions that have come and gone aiming to be the next big thing. However, there is an untapped market in Southern California, especially Orange County, to do a fandom themed event. I really did enjoy running panels – even if they were not our usual audience. If there’s three people interested in learning about rare video games – it’s an opportunity for conversation and sharing ideas. Many thanks to Roxy for setting up our panels and inviting us as guest panelists. We’re hoping that Regal Con can grow – there’s a lot of potential here!