Denver Comic Con (DCC) was held June 17-20, 2016. Cons are my passion and because of that I am willing to sacrifice hours of my time, or days in the case of SDCC, in order to enjoy these once in a lifetime experiences and events. That being said, I believe DCC can make some substantial improvements to make the panel experience run more smoothly.
I was attending DCC with a speedpass. DCC’s speedpass is a badge at a higher price that gives you first access to the exhibit floor, main event panels, a separate line for autographs (autographs are not discounted), and merchandise (a T-shirt and bag).
On Friday, the con started off slowly. I got into the speed line a little after 9am and quickly realized speedpass had grown to include the people who purchased the $400 Stan Lee package. No complaints there – if you love something enough to pay $400, you should get some perks. I was able to get in and get my speedpass merchandise in a very timely manner. Then I headed down to my first panel only to find out it had been cancelled. No problem – I’ll head to the floor and wait for my next panel. Oh, that’s no longer happening either. The panel after? Nope. I soon learned that the app was not updating my calendar by removing cancelled panels real time. This meant I had until 4pm before there was a panel I was looking forward to, which was 7 hours after my arrival.
I was able to walk the con from top to bottom with friends and still have time for a relaxing beer before my panel. The floor was your typical convention floor. There are a lot of retailers selling toys, game tables, and T-shirts. Artist Valley is full of talented people who have put their heart and soul into their work. One aspect of DCC that I do enjoy is that the vendors tend to be the same every year and there are no DCC exclusives like you get at SDCC and NYCC so my wallet stays full and my shopping bag empty.
I sat down next to a lovely couple dressed in Firefly cosplay who had traveled from out of state. We talked for awhile and they told me about all their props from Firefly and how they met. They were disappointed in the con and told me they would not be coming back. This was discouraging to me. This is my home town and I want Denver to be known as having the best cons around.
I got into my panel and, to my surprise, DCC had changed their rule about clearing the main event rooms after every panel. I must admit I was frustrated by this since the reason I purchased the speed pass was to be able to get into every panel I wanted and to have a close seat (my pass was no longer worth the money I paid for it). However, this was still not the most concerning part. They were willing to let you camp out in the room, however, don?t plan on needing to pee. The gentleman behind me needed to use the restroom and they made him completely exit to come back, thankfully the panel was not full. You also have no access to food while in these rooms, so hopefully you packed a snack.
I spoke to the staff about the rule and they informed me they were clearing for some panels but not all and didn’t know which ones. When I got home I wrote to them to find out which panels they were clearing and they said only before the Stan Lee panel. I must say they answered me in a reasonable time and I’m still impressed they wrote back. Over the next 2 days, I and other attendees had to fight to get to and use the restroom. Some staff would let you just go back, yet with others you had to argue with that you had just needed to use the restroom.
Exiting the main event rooms was a nightmare. At the turn, they had it roped off so the large crowd had to condense into about 3 feet and then it opened back up. It was an unnecessary bottleneck that made leaving the room feel almost impossible (did I mention that is also where the bathroom is located?). It did explain why they had decided not to empty the rooms. I think DCC needs to invest in sending their staff to other cons so they can begin to learn how to handle big rooms, crowds, and panels. Bathroom passes would have been a great start.
There are two main event rooms next to each other and each one has its own moderator. Clare Kramer moderated Bellco Theater and Garrett Wang moderated the Infinity Theater. Both are excellent moderators and are in tune with modern pop culture. I do wish they would mix up the moderators between the rooms though. When you are camping out in a room and the moderator comes out for the fourth time saying a similar intro, you sit there saying yeah I know, then yes let’s get this started.
Sunday ran very smoothly. I was able to see Jeffery Dean Morgan, Clark Gregg, and the Women of Doctor Who. The Women of Doctor Who was by far the most popular panel and, to my surprise, no one in the audience asked who died on The Walking Dead. I have a feeling though that Mr. Morgan knows who the unlucky character is. Afterwards, I tried to get an autograph for a friend but was 5 minutes too late. The autograph area was very well organized and even with Mr. Morgan?s line going into overflow, it seemed to be running smoothly. However, the people in the middle of that line may have felt differently. A friend used a speed pass to get through the Stan Lee and Jeffrey Dean Morgan lines. He said it definitely made the a difference in his line time. So I guess if your goal is autographs, the speed pass might not be as much of a waste of money as it is if you are panel oriented.
Overall I had a great weekend. I hung out with old and new friends, shared an unforgettable moment with my nieces at the Stan Lee Panel, and got a dance from John Barrowman. If you are local or just a short trip away, I would say DCC is a convention worth attending. However, it still has a lot of work to do in order to make it worthwhile for people further away. There are just too many other comic cons out there to settle on this one.
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