Colossalcon 2014: The VIP Treatment

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GPOY! A selfie with my badge before the first day of the con began.

It was about six months ago: advance registration for the main event of my 2014-2015 anime convention season, Colossalcon, was finally open! My going to Colossalcon, one of Ohio’s largest pop culture conventions, in 2013 was something of a last-minute decision; thus, pre-registration had already ended by the time I decided to go and I was restricted to one ticket option. For this year’s convention, however, I planned ahead far enough that I was able to pre-reg, thank goodness! One registration option I had was a standard pass for all four days of the convention; another, however, I found much more intriguing. I decided to register with a VIP pass, which would give me access to the entire convention plus some very tempting benefits.

Of course, it cost a bit more than double that of a normal ticket, but I anticipated that it would be totally worth it.

The first day of the con, Thursday, started out slowly, but more people ended up turning up than I had expected, and certainly more than had arrived on the first day last year! I remembered a bit of the layout of the venue from last year, but still spent much of the first day reacquainting myself with the convention space, shopping around in the Thursday-only craft fair (one of my favorite parts of cons is buying cool stuff from all the amazing artists!), finding areas I would be headed to the next day, going to a couple of panels that piqued my interest, and simply enjoying the atmosphere and goofing off with my friends.

Friday’s photoshoot – Sailor Moon mermaids! I’m starting to think orange might be a good color on me.

Friday, everything kicked into high gear…and the real fun began! Not only did I have several events that I planned to go to, this was when two benefits of my VIP badge would kick in: early access to the Dealer’s Room where all sorts of awesome fandom merchendise would be available, and a special VIP-only autograph session with the convention’s celebrity guests later that night. Unfortunately, I kind of goofed up that first benefit; after getting distracted talking to a fellow member of the Risembool Rangers in the hallway (the fan club of my favorite voice actor, Vic Mignogna, who was a guest at the convention) I only had about fifteen minutes left of my “VIP only” Dealer’s Room time left. I made good use of it, however, and managed to locate two wall scrolls to get signed at the autograph session that night before the crowd came flooding in. I spent quite a bit more time in the Dealer’s Room finding last-minute cosplay supplies, before meeting up with a friend at the con center’s water park for a photoshoot of our Sailor Moon cosplays that we’d been planning since last Colossalcon. As soon as that was over, I was on the move again, practically running through the convention center hallways to make it to the one panel I wanted to attend that day: the screening of episode 2 of Star Trek Continuesa fan-made continuation of the original Star Trek series, and Q&A with some of the show’s cast and crew.

It was that night, after I had booked it back to our hotel room to change out of my damp costume, that the amazingly exciting things started to happen! Since the convention center was attached to the Kalahari hotel and resort, some members of the aforementioned fan club the Risembool Rangers, myself included, got together for an official “Ranger dinner” in one of the hotel’s restaurants. The food was great, but the company was better; I got to meet a lot of the people from the group that I recognized or had communicated with online. To make the meetup even more perfect, Vic Mignogna himself showed up about halfway in! It was wonderful to be able to talk to someone we all admired so much without all of the formalities and restrictions that usually go along with meeting a convention guest.

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Bryce Papenbrook – one of the voice actors I was most excited to meet during Colossalcon weekend!

As the dinner drew to a close, Vic left to head to an autograph session – the same VIP autograph session that a few other Rangers and I were headed to. In all honesty, the special autograph event was the main reason I bought my VIP badge in the first place, and boy, was it worth it! Rather than spend the majority of the convention in autograph lines for five different voice actors that I wanted to see, I got to meet all of them within one hour! Among them were Bryce Papenbrook from Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan, Cherami Leigh from Sword Art Online, Jessica Calvello from Attack on Titan, Lisa Ortiz from Pokémon and Yu-Gi-Oh, and of course Vic, who’s voiced in too many shows I’ve watched to list here. After attending so many conventions and going through too many autograph lines to count, I wasn’t as jittery as I thought I would be after meeting (or re-meeting) these incredibly talented individuals. Friday night drew to a close with my group and me attending the late-night rave– pounding techno music and flashing lights is always a good way to end an exciting day.

Could I have gotten this awesome shot of this equally awesome voice actor without having priority seating? No, probably not.

Saturday is normally the busiest day of any convention; it’s when most of the big events are since it’s also when the most people who are only coming for one day show up. For me, however, it was quiet compared to Friday. I had a photoshoot early in the morning, and could stay in the same costume for the entire day; I only had about three panels I was planning to go to and they were spaced out well, so I didn’t have to rush anywhere. After the shoot, I had a solid two hours to simply wander the halls, browsing through the dealer’s room and artist’s alley, taking pictures of cosplays I liked, and chatting with people. Eventually, I landed in the line for Vic Mignogna’s Q&A panel with some of the Rangers from the dinner on Friday. It was about twenty minutes before the panel started that I discovered a perk of my VIP badge that I didn’t know about before: priority seating for guest panels! I ended up in the second row of the center section of the enormous room, which made for quite an experience after being stuck halfway back the room at the same panel last year. Later that evening, I had the chance to use this perk of my badge again to get into another guest panel I was attending with my friend; since she had a standard badge, however, I didn’t use it this time around. Saturday night was a fairly quiet affair; my group stayed together most of the night, walking the now-quiet halls, going to a few late-night panels, and hanging out in the game room until the con closed down for the night.

One last picture before saying goodbye to one of the best cons ever – see you next year, Colossal!

By Sunday, we were doing our best to keep the post-con depression at bay. I went to a morning panel, went through one last autograph line, and made a last sweep through the dealer’s room looking for sales before finally meeting up with my group again. After spending a bit of time reminiscing, we said farewell to Colossalcon for that year and hit the road home.

I’m planning on redoing my VIP registration for next year, because there will definitely be a next year! I got to experience so much more of the event than I did last year all because I didn’t have to worry about lines as much, a valuable lesson in both time management and opportunity costs. Now that I know more of the in-and-outs of the convention, when Colossalcon 2015 comes, I’ll be able to get more involved and experience even more.

Curious about the con-going lifestyle? Want to know more about that scene at Lincoln Memorial University? Check out my previous posts about other conventions and my cosplaying, follow my blog for more updates, and drop me a comment with your questions or stories of your own!

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