I’ve been covering Wondercon for the past five years, and I never seem to get bored talking about it. Each year its something new and something different. So before I get to my five favorite things about Wondercon 2017, let me wax poetic about the Wondercon of yesteryear.
In 2016, Wondercon relocated to the grand city of Los Angeles, at the LA Convention Center. It was an attempt to accommodate it’s ever growing attendance, and Anaheim was getting a face lift. It only lasted the single year, but if Los Angeles had it’s way, Wondercon would grace it’s streets again. But, personally, I have a problem with that.
The Los Angeles Convention Center is located in the heart of one of the busiest sources of entertainment in the city. Right by the convention center is the Staple Center, home of the Lakers, the Clippers, the Sparks, and the Kings. Across the street from the Staple Center is LA Live, and the Microsoft Theater, where a bevy of concerts are held, along with various clubs and restaurants. This all adds up to a tsunami of attendees from all these events congregating into the cold, metallic melting pot of the city, therefore removing that…je ne sais quoi.
So I am happy that Wondercon is back in Anaheim. I mean, it’s across the street from Disneyland, the Happiest Place on Earth! There is an atmosphere of joy and mischief that is uniquely Wondercon. Now that I have that off my chest, let’s talk the best of what this year had to offer.
5. The Panels
With Wondercon being the little brother of the San Diego Comic Con, you can believe that there is a level of clout that brings the celebrities to this event. The panels throughout the day give way to your favorite stars from shows like Agents of SHIELD and The Magicians. Though I’ve only attended a few panels this time around, for a reason I’ll talk about later, the panels I did see, did not disappoint. The cast of the upcoming show Midnight Texas were on hand, not only to give us a sneak peak at the first episode, but also giving us a chance to know the cast, before the show premieres this summer. Midnight Texas also seemed to be sponsoring on the Con, and though I may be biased, it looks like a show worth looking into.
Other panels thought to go a different route, and delve into the societal issues that were ripped from today’s headlines, while keeping it light hearted. APB, a show I’ve never heard of, had Ernie Hudson on hand with his costars and show creators to talk about the real life challenges being faced within Chicago communities and their relationship with the police. There was the Anti-Bullying panel who had the likes of Anne Wheaton & Brandon Routh, sharing stories of inspiration and calls to action to help curb and prevent bullying online and in real life.
Whatever corner of the geek world you reside, there’s always a panel for you. But I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the annual Dr Horrible Sing Along that usually caps the weekend with some frivolity.
4. The Lines
I hate lines. Lines were invented by people who liked to torture other people, with boredom. Luckily, I only had to stand in one, and it was hidden away from the world, which is why I loved it and think it’s worth mentioning. A room dedicated to the lines for other panels, was a breath of fresh air, because you don’t have to rub up against people when you just wanted to get to one side of the convention center to the other! So thank you Wondercon for making the lines a tolerable experience.
3. RFID badges
It’s hard to avoid riffraff and rabble rousers at a convention. Not everyone agrees with what a comic book and pop culture convention is all about. But ever since they added the RFID badges to enter and exit the Con, those nuisances that would normally hound you as a heathen for taking part in this event, are far enough away not to notice. Whew.
2. You’re right by Disneyland
If Anaheim gets to keep Wondercon, you get the pleasure of being just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Magic Kingdom. Even if you don’t go into the parks, you have Downtown Disney, a worthy substitute for anyone, who may be exhausted after a long day of walking through Artist Alley and buying all the Funko Pops that can fit into your backpack. There’s food, live entertainment, and more Disney branded products than you can shake a mouse ear at. You can’t help but find a little joy when you’re that close to Disneyland.
1. The People
This is where I’m most biased, because the quality of the convention experience can be swayed by the quality of your company, or lack thereof. I normally attend conventions alone, which means I spend less time taking pictures of cosplayers and wandering the exhibit floor, and more time absorbing what I can from the many wonderful panels. Lately, for some out of this world reason, I’ve been actually attending conventions with other people, that I know or sort of know. So Wondercon for me, was amazing, because I had the opportunity to make new friends. A huge shout out to the crew of No Ordinary Nerd (Danielle, Daniel, Chris, Nico, JD, Kali), for not only tolerating my presence during the time we all spent together, but for also being some of the nicest, friendliest people, I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Check out their podcast all about geek and pop culture and using that to break the stigma of mental illness, on their show No Ordinary Nerd.
I would be a terrible friend and co-host (of Back When We Were Interesting) if I didn’t thank Shelley Rossell, for hanging out and doing the panels, and just being grand. She even donated the rest of her lasagna which I promptly (almost) spilled all over myself. She is, without a doubt, cool beans.
It was another successful and memorable year of Wondercon. Great cosplay abound, friendly and helpful staff everywhere, and a great place to have your first, or continued convention experience. This has begun my convention season, as next week, I’m off to Oaks Pennsylvania for the Great Philadelphia Comic Con. Hope to see you there.
Wondercon – wondercon.org