FAnaheim took a dive toward dissatisfaction when the second Con to hit the Anaheim Convention Center in 2015, Star Wars Celebration, was a lesson in what not to do.
It’s Cantina, Not Cattle
Following the manicured, and in some respects tailored down WonderCon two weeks prior, the Star Wars fan event brought in a ton more people than the Comic Con sister convention. But that was expected. What was not expected was the event organizers feeding every single attendee through one entry way.
A huge line fed into the outside doors of Hall D at the convention center. Badged and non-badged attendees clumped around the doors not knowing what the line was for. Luckily for me, I wrangled a press group from Asia and asked how they got their media badges. Then fortunately I saw a press crew headed to the doors and followed closely on their heels, them cutting a path through the clump.
The Will-Call/Press/VIP desks were virtually empty. But that didn’t end the confusion. Volunteers, staff members, and temporary staff members were telling people conflicting information such that prior to the opening, I walked the entire convention center three times fruitlessly ending at a place I didn’t want to be at.
As for regular attendees, all were fed down the Hall E escalator then back up the escalator to Hall D where they would either get their badges or wait in a cattle line to get into the exhibition hall–even if they had no intention of going there. If they wanted to go to the 10,000 seat arena for the spotlighted presentations or one of the panel rooms or the Force Awakens exhibition, they still had to go through this entirely unnecessary process.
And lines that somehow started in the lobby or stairs were told that they weren’t real lines. It was mass confusion and chaos, topped off by the fact that staff was both low and incompetent to deal with any sort of crowds, let alone 80,000.
Blaster, Not Bastards
I ran into a convention center staff member, and she said that Reed POP, the organizers of the event, told the convention center that they would bring in their own staff, needing no in-house assistance. Boy, was she pissed. There was a miniscule amount of Blue shirt Pro Temp workers who were dispensing conflicting information. The doors of the convention center weren’t open until well after the stated opening because organizers wanted to feed everyone through one entrance.
No Asians in a Galaxy Far Far Away
As for me, I was told to get a bracelet for the opening spotlight event. Immediately upon arrival at the desk, this woman said, “You’ve already tried to check in.” I’ve never seen this bitch in my life so I assumed she never encountered more than one person of Asian descent before.
There was also conflicting information about what services were available for press so I ran around the top floor looking for something I told existed but ultimately was somewhere in a galaxy far, far in the bullshit way,
Line Worm Hole
Line Management was generally left up to attendees and panel organizers. Event staff was rarely deployed to control the lines. The line for the Force Awakens exhibit snaked in so many different directions and into different alcoves and maneuverings, it was impossible to find the end of the line.
Reed POP is the same event producer that does New York Comic Con. I’ll have to consider that carefully should I ever have the urge to go to that event.
In the exhibition hall, lines were worse. I’m surprised the Fire Marshall wasn’t called in. Just finding a way through all the snaked lines to exit was a feat in itself.
It’s a shame because I found the attendees more of a community than say at Comic-Con. It’s a shame that besides Star Wars, the other thing that they could relate with one another is the poor organization of the event.