This was something I wrote back in September of 2013. Since the summer convention season has begun I thought it would be appropriate to post here.
I’m writing this a few weeks removed from the 20th Otakon Convention in Baltimore. The conventions attendance was well over 34,000 people, making it the largest convention I’d ever been to. Did I have fun? Absolutely, but a convention of that size is almost a completely different animal than the small local cons we have here in the state of Maine. You have to have different expectations and practically a different mindset for a larger convention over a small one.
A big difference is the schedules, and how you approach it. With a small con in a small hotel/convention center, you can dash from one panel to another, change your mind on a whim and so forth. In my experience this doesn’t work for a big con like Otakon. Most of the panels, events, what-have-you are going to have lines, sometimes LONG lines. In other words you make up your mind beforehand if you want to do this event or not, because in most cases the room will be full if you take time to think about it. The few times I was at panels that I didn’t intend on going to before hand was only to wait for a later panel in the same room. You can’t go wall to wall all day with panels/events without either being shut out of a full room, or missing the end of a panel before hand. And that is not including actual time it takes to travel from one room to another. People traffic at large cons (and many small cons as well) does not move that fast. People stop for pictures in hallways, people are walking around in large elaborate outfits, and in the case of Otakon this year (although other cons have similar issues) doors and escalators were non accessible, causing bottlenecking. A small con in a tiny hotel or convention space you can get away with a fuller schedule, but with a larger con, at least for me, I tend to keep my schedule rather loose with a lot of spacing for such things as Lines, Room clears and travel time from one end to the other. Crowd control issues aside, it’s just a part of the big con experience, and not entirely a bad one. I was in line for over an hour for a showing of Fan Parodies (I arrived very early) and not only was treated to a performance of the Dansu to Pantsu dance troupe, got to hang with a group of rowdiest but fun otaku I’d ever met, and was able to get a free Funimation lanyard since their panel went much longer than expected. Not all line experiences are that positive, but still, it was a fun memory of the convention.