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If you would have told me a couple of months ago that I was going to make a trip to Seattle and spend my hard earned money on Outlander photo ops and autographs, I probably would have laughed in your face.
I stumbled on a random tweet back in January and learned about Emerald City Comic Con (ECCC), and of course, by then a VIP package that included an exclusive meet and greet with Sam Heughan and Caitriona Balfe (from Outlander, obviously) had already sold out.
Despite this, I was super excited for this event, so I impulsively purchased my badge, photo ops, and autographs as soon as they were released to the public. I would figure out the logistics later!
My husband made the trip with me, and we stayed walking distance from the Convention Center where the photos and autographs were being held. I arrived on Thursday and was all set for Friday, excited like a little kid the night before a trip to Disneyland!
The Panel was set for 11:00 AM. I left the hotel at 7:45 AM, so I could line up at 8:00 AM. And in true fandom fashion, when I arrived, there were a hundred people already lined up. It was rainy, so I was just happy that I was able to wait inside. I met and mingled with some great ladies, which made the 3-hour queue bearable. Once they let us inside the hall, and we were seated, a comedian provided some entertainment and warmed up the audience to welcome Sam and Caitriona. When they entered the stage my brain could only focus on the fact that Sam was wearing a Kilt and #kneeporn made my brain all mushy.
The Panel was good, the moderator asked fans ahead of time what NOT to ask, so it was refreshing to see we were not going to go to the same old questions. I also liked the fact that 80% of the questions came from fans, and most were very good. Sam and Cait were so nice and answered as much as they could without spoilers.
After the Panel, we continued to the Sheraton hotel for autographs and photo ops. And this is where the real adventure began.
The people organizing the autographs/photo ops were overwhelmed with the huge amount of fans. We were assigned time groups at the time of purchase, but they just went ahead and lined up everybody regardless of time group, which lead to a lot of confusion. My initial impression when I saw the crowds was, “OMG this is a lot of people!” And I went into a mini panic/claustrophobia/anxiety attack and texted my husband who told me to leave if I wasn’t feeling well.
I then turned around and saw a quick glimpse of Sam who was heading to the photo booth and I thought “Hell yeah, I’m staying!”.
As we waited to get Sam’s pic, I was being mentored by a lovely girl that clearly was below the demographic age-group of your average Outlander fan. I learned from her that you could (and should) ask the celebrity the pose you preferred and even practiced such poses with each other, and a gal behind us in line, who helped me advise our younger mentor not to ask Sam for the “awkward prom pose” she was pinning for. After showing us the ropes, she asked the people in front of us not to rush, so we could have more time inside the photo booth with Sam. Bless her young millennial heart.
Once we were inside the photo booth, and the handlers were moving the lines, my initial reaction was that Sam was SO TALL!!! And he looked like an Angel, he was glowing and when it was my turn I couldn’t speak or say anything, I was so nervous. Even though I had seen them in person before on two occasions, it was never this close.
But anyway, we took the picture, he thanked me for coming and of course, I was on cloud nine. Here we are together:
My second photo was a Team-up with both Sam and Caitriona. Again, there were long lines and crowds. By this time, I was an expert on the logistics of the event. Even though I had seen them in person before on two occasions, it was never this close.
My second time in the photo booth (after hours of no food/drink or restroom breaks) went pretty smoothly. I was able to appreciate Cait together with Sam, as she is also SUPER TALL! And beautiful too! I’m 5’5” so you get the idea. This is how this one turned out:
After grabbing something to eat, I continued with the last photo-op which was a solo with Cait. I can tell you by this time I was super tired, but excited none the less. Cait was so nice to everybody. A lady ahead of us actually brought her baby, and Cait picked him up and took the photo with them! I mean, how much money did they pay them to do this? (Editor: A lot) Anyway, I took my pic and I really liked it!!
In general, the photo ops were super disorganized, understaffed and confusing at times, but fans cooperated and Sam and Cait are so gracious with their fans. For me, it was worth each dollar I paid.
The Autographs were later in the afternoon and also took hours. By this time, our group was just sitting on the floor of the carpeted hallways, trying to find food and water in our backpacks to survive this final stage. We were called to line up again, but this time our queue moved to a smaller room where Sam and Cait were at the front sitting at their signing tables. So we got to watch them interact with the fans, and that made me forget that it was 6:00 PM and all I had that day was a coffee, a muffin, and half a sandwich as (no water because you know, no time for bathrooms).
When I approached Cait’s table, I had a post-it that said “#1 Fan in Mexico” and my name. I had no idea if I was going to be allowed to speak to them, so I put it there so they knew I had traveled a long way to see them! Cait spoke to me in perfect Spanish and personalized my autograph. She is so NICE!!! I mean, she received all kinds of presents from the fans and accepted everything graciously and interacted with everybody. I purchased her autograph at the very last minute because someone canceled her trip last minute, and let me tell you, I would have regretted not grabbing hers, so I was so grateful and fortunate to get it.
When I approached Sam’s table, I had to pass my book to his agent first, when Sam got it with the same post-it, he said “Hola” and I explained to him that he had thousands of fans in Mexico, Latin-America, and Spain. His response was “Wow! I should go!!!”. He then signed my book and started to write in Spanish “Muchas Gracias Graciela” and then “Besos”.
It was an exciting day for an Outlander Fangirl, and personally, I think I got my money’s worth. Could the event have a better organization? Yes, absolutely. Would I do it again? Absofreakinglutely. It was an amazing weekend where I also bumped into Alice Cooper at the hotel on Saturday and later that evening with the girl from Stranger Things, Millie Bobby Brown, who was having dinner at the table next to us.
Thank you, Bekah and Beth for the chance of sharing my experience with That’s Normal, and some of the pics I took!
Grace is a Dance Mom, Basketball Mom, Loves Outlander, and will always find her listening to her Audiobooks! Follow her on Twitter @graciela_zamora
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