This year’s Fan Expo was bit of a “make it or break it” event for me. While I quite enjoyed my first visit to the expo in 2009, last year’s overcrowding disaster risked disillusioning me on the event. I knew that the best way for me to properly enjoy the event was to go all out and purchase a weekend-long deluxe pass, instead of going for only a single day.
The deluxe pass was not as exclusive as it was during previous expos, as there were no longer any “Deluxe Only” events. This revelation was slightly disapointing, since me wanting access to these events was one of my reasons for getting the pass in the first place. However, at the same time, it was apparent that it would be impossible to get much done in a single day, so having a deluxe pass was almost a necessity. That said, including the $20 extra I paid for shipping the pass, I only really saved $20 on the deluxe pass, when compared to the combined single pass prices.
With this weekend being my first with a deluxe pass, it nearly became overwhelming for me. While I was pretty unaffected on the first day of the expo (which was only 7 hours long), by the end of my first 10 hour day, I was starting to feel a bit burnt out. I never been to the expo for more than one day before and I was almost dreaded having to come for the whole weekend. However, as the weekend progressed, I realized that having the deluxe pass made the expo much more satisfying, as I was not really that pressured to rush through the experience. I’ll probably get the deluxe pass again next year, presuming I can afford it.
One thing that was confirmed for me in a big way this weekend was that if you are going to the Fan Expo, you have to be prepared to spend money. The FAQ on the Fan Expo website can be a bit misleading when it says that “most guests do not charge for an autograph.” While this is probably true for the smaller guests (and I indeed recieved a few free autographs this weekend), the truth is that all the celebrity guests that draw people to the expo charge around $20-$40 for their signatures, while some of the larger names (i.e. William Shatner) go for much higher.
While it would probably be quite easy to plan a trip to the expo without paying a cent (other than admission), it would not make the visit as satisfying as it would otherwise have been. While I probably ended up spending more than I would’ve liked on two celebrity autographs and a photo-op, I think they ended up making my weekend all the more worth it. Also, I DID have some sort of pre-planned budget and I likely spent much less than what some of the other patrons probably did.
Here are my top three highlights from Fan Expo:
- Getting a photo taken with Robert Englund, as well as seeing his very entertaining Q&A.
- Seeing the panel with the cast of Lost Girl and getting their autographs after.
- Getting the second in what I hope to be a growing collection of autographs from cast members of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
And, even though this year was a huge improvement from last year, here are my top three criticisms:
- Many photographs from photo ops, my own included, were not ready by the end of the expo (presumably because there was a huge demand for Tom Felton photos). As such, many people would have to wait for them to come in the mail.
- While they were managed better, the lines outside of the building could have used some more signs.
- While the pass shipping was convienient, they should offer multiple price options. A $20 charge for a single plastic wristband does not sound right.
And that’s my wrap up of the 2011 Fan Expo. I will post a gallery of the photos I took during the event shortly.