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San Diego Comic Con has been my thing for the last three years. Go big or go home, I figure. I’ve never been a smaller con but after this year’s epic #TNSDCC trip, I was considering checking out another con in 2017. And then the line up for Fan Expo Canada started to be announced. And it was my home country from Sept.1-4. And there was an airline seat sale on the day I checked to see how much flights were going to cost.
And that was how a nearly last minute trip to cover Fan Expo Canada was born.
To get an idea of the scope of Fan Expo in comparison to San Deigo Comic Con, I stumbled upon this infographic that someone spent of lot of time making so that I didn’t have to.
But does Fan Expo get the big name talent? Yes! William Shatner, Mark Hamill and Stan Lee were this year’s headliners. Charlie Cox, Hayley Atwell, Clive Standen and John Barrowman brought the crowds too. Heck, even Netflix was a sponsor! What surprised me was who wasn’t there. There are 27 major filming projects going on in Toronto including Comic Con favourites American Gods, Designated Survivor and People of Earth. Vancouver, just a short plane ride away, is the home to nearly every superhero tv show there is. And yet… crickets from those franchises. Note to studios – Canadians watch tv and movies, too. Americans come to Canada for Fan Expo. With attendance comparable to San Diego and New York Comic Cons, you may want to up your game with promotion when the celebrity talent is already in the area.
Regardless, my expectations going in were low. Could anything really top the biggest baddest Con of them all?
Anyone who has ever tried and tasted the bitterness of defeat when trying to get San Diego Comic Con badges knows that the carnage is worse than The Hunger Games. With an estimated 1,000,000 people trying to get their hands on 140,000 tickets, the odds are not in your favour. To make matters worse, contestants, er, purchasers are randomly selected by some mysterious internet god who decides who is worthy to get past the blue circle of death into ticket buying screen.
At Fan Expo Canada, you can buy your tickets online OR walk up to the box office the day of the event and get entry! Yes, it is that simple! There are different tiers which offer different benefits (preferred seating, VIP lounges, exclusives) if you are wanting to pay more for your tickets but for a regular fan, the general admission works just as well.
Like with any big event, hotels raise their prices. Downtown Toronto is no different. But the prices aren’t totally outrageous. Two weeks before the expo, I was able to get a hotel room 2 blocks from the convention center for just under $200/ night. That’s Canadian currency, y’all, so it works out to about $50 US. Maybe? I’m sleep deprived and math is hard. Regardless, it’s affordable and easy to score a room in a swanky boutique hotel within walking distance to all the geeky goodness.
The crowds are big. The convention floor is packed. Yes, there are bottle necks at times, but that is usually because a Canadian has bumped into another Canadian and they are trying to out apologize each other no matter who was at fault.
— Patricia (@littlesrule) September 4, 2016
Also, Canadians know how to form a proper queue and wait their turns. Line jumping would be too impolite.
I’ve never really understood the appeal of camping out for major panels at San Diego Comic Con. I mean, the hotel prices are just barely affordable. If you are paying for a comfy bed, why not sleep in it?
But those big panels are the be all and end all for some people. If that is your thing, then carry on being you.
The most popular panels at FanExpo are accessible to everyone – there may be a (relatively) short line up of an hour or two but that is a very small sacrifice when compared to laying on the hard concrete next to the San Diego Convention Center looking up at the hotel room that you are paying $500/night (or more) not to sleep in.
Everything at San Diego Comic Con seems to be the luck of the draw. Literally. Most autograph and photo sessions are only obtained by the lucky few who are willing to camp out for hours for the chance to maybe draw the golden ticket.
Not so at Fan Expo! To get up close and personal with your favourite celeb, you might have dig into your wallet to pay for an autograph or photo op but you are guaranteed to get it. No luck needed. Speaking from experience, it is worth Every. Single. Penny. to have Clive Standen put his arms around you. Yes, I paid for it. And I don’t feel the slightest bit dirty about it.
Bonus – the celebrity guests that attend really and truly want to meet and interact with their fans. They are not whisked away by handlers without so much as a wave to fans like some are in San Diego (I am not going to name names but you all know who I am talking about).
Fan Expo Canada was better than I could have possibly imagined – maybe even better that San Diego.