Fan Expo Canada was held August 31st through September 3rd at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre, in Toronto, Ontario. It is the largest Comics, Sci-fi, Horror, Anime, and Gaming event in Canada. It, along with San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) and New York City Comic Con (NYCC), is among the top three Pop Culture events in North America.
This year, Fan Expo Canada celebrated its 23nd year. It attracts more than 130,000, people from around the world. The show offered many diverse attractions. Fans were able to get autographs and photos with their favorite celebrity or comic guest. They were able to attend showings of pilots of new shows or see an unaired episode of a favorite show.
Fan Expo Canada, like many other for-profit conventions, has different tiers of badges. There were VIP, Premium, 4 Day, Single day and Family passes available. Each pass had specific perks associated with it, such early access and dedicated lounges for VIP badge holders. The VIP passes were the most expensive. If you were only attending one day, then the single day badge was your best choice and most cost effective.
It is relatively easy to get to Fan Expo Canada. If you arrive by air, there is an express train, UP Express, which goes directly from Toronto Pearson International Airport to downtown Toronto. In fact, the train stops at Union Station in downtown Toronto, which is very close to the hotels reserved for Fan Expo Canada. For local fans, there are options such driving, taking a bus, or using other local train service to get to the convention center. Fan Expo Canada reserved several beautiful hotels. I stayed at the InterContinental Toronto Centre hotel, which is connected to the North Building of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre.
Fan Expo Canada is located in the beautiful city of Toronto. The city has many fine restaurants and pubs. I would recommend exploring outside the convention center for restaurants as there are wonderful places to eat. Also, there are many places to have adult beverages and the local beers are quite good and served in large (18 oz.) glasses.
Fan Expo Canada took over both the North and South buildings of the Metro Toronto Convention Centre. This space is more than 750,000 square feet, which housed more than 1,000 exhibitors and many small, medium, and large panels. They also set aside significant space in the North Building for autographs and photo ops. The autograph section on Saturday was especially jam-packed with fans who had paid for autographs and photo ops from such celebrities as Stephen Amell, Barry Bostwick, Felicia Day, David Ramsey, Norman Reedus, and Nathan Fillion.
Fan Expo Canada used both the North and South Buildings for panels. As a general rule, the largest panels with the biggest celebrities, such as Nathan Fillion, were held in the North Building in room 106, with some other big events in Room 102. The majority of the other panels were held in the many rooms in the South Building, with some in the North Building.
While both buildings held exhibitors, the majority of the exhibitors were in the South Building on level 800, with the remaining exhibitors in the North Building on levels 300 and 200. This division of the exhibitors into two buildings eased the congestion of fans in both exhibitor spaces. However, there was a major traffic jam going between the North and South buildings on Saturday. The traffic flowed rather easily on the other days of the convention.
Fan Expo Canada, for the most part, managed the lines to the panels really well. Each room was cleared at the end of a panel. Fans for the next panel were lined up in chutes and each line had several people watching to maintain the integrity of the lines. This worked really well for the panels I saw. There were not any issues with seeing the panels I wanted to see, nor did I personally hear any complaints about the lines. The traffic jam between buildings seemed to be the only major line issue.
The panels, guests, and exhibitors/vendors were all top tier. I saw the pilot episode of Ghosted which premieres October 1 on Fox in the states. One of the stars, Craig Robinson (he plays Leroy Wright), took part in a Q&A after the premiere. During the panel, he managed to reach Adam Scott, who plays Max Jennifer. The reception was so poor that Adam Scott only said a few words before the screen froze and the call ended. I also attended the Season two premiere of Travelers. After the premiere, the stars of the show (Eric McCormack, Nesta Cooper, and MacKenzie Porter) took part in a Q&A. Both of these panels took place in medium size rooms, which were surprisingly intimate. I believe that this is the strength of Fan Expo Canada. The rooms are reminiscent of the small panels at the defunct Nerd HQ at SDCC.
Although all of these and the other panels were great, my favorite panel was the one for The Expanse. The major stars – Steven Strait (Holden), Frankie Adams (Bobbie), Shohreh Aghdashloo (Avasarala), Cas Anvar (Alex), Dominique Tipper (Naomi), and Wes Chatham (Amos) – were on the panel, which was hosted by Inner Space. For the panel, I wore my first cosplay: the ship uniform worn on the Rocinante. The Q&A was especially lively and Steven inadvertently dropped a major reveal but fortunately only the fans who have read the books caught it. After the Q&A, we had a small Expanse fan meetup. I was really lucky, as Andrew Rotilio ( he played Diogo on The Expanse) attended The Expanse panel and I was able to get a picture with him. On Thursday, I was incredibly lucky to visit the set of The Expanse. I wrote a separate article about the tour.
This was my first trip to Fan Expo Canada and Toronto. Fan Expo Canada was fun and it was great being able to attend my favorite panels without having to camp out overnight. Toronto is a beautiful city and, of course, any city where they film The Expanse has to be the best city in the world. I totally recommend going to Fan Expo Canada and spending some time exploring Toronto. I am already looking for plane flights to attend next year!
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