ACE Comic Con took over Nassau Coliseum this past weekend, December 8th through 10th, with a solid lineup of guests from the recently released Justice League movie, Daredevil, and WWE. The lineup was impressive with Gal Gadot, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Ezra Miler, Ray Fisher, and Ciaran Hinds from Justice League. Charlie Cox and Elodie Yung from Daredevil were also on hand (unfortunately Jon Bernthal had to cancel due to personal reasons resulting from the California wildfires). WWE Superstars The Undertaker, The Hardy Boyz, and The Bella Twins were the featured guests on the first day of the con.
This is the first con hosted by Ace at Nassau Coliseum and looking back at my experience there are a few pluses and minuses to highlight ranging from the guest lineup to execution.
On the day I attended this con, it did not appear to be oversold or crowded, however navigation in the halls to get from one place to another could get a little cumbersome.
The layout for this con was a little confusing to most, including to me, a veteran of much larger cons. This was a common complaint I heard during the casual conversations I had with several attendees throughout the day. For example, the logistical setup for the Information Booth, set up on the lower level, was a misstep and there was no signage to inform attendees where it was located. It would have been better to have had a second booth near the entrance with greeters or signage to point to the main booth on the lower level.
I spoke with several attendees casually about their experiences and there was a good mixture of VIP and General attendees. The perks of the different VIP badges varied but they all granted VIPs first access to photo ops and autograph sessions.
The autograph pre-sale for the guests is a great idea to help plan your day by pre-purchasing your targets, however, it is also bittersweet if you did not make your purchase in time. For example, Gal Gadot and Henry Cavill’s autographs sold out several weeks before the con. While Cavill’s autographs re-opened a couple of weeks before the con for a few days before selling out again, Gadot’s was a solid lock-out, which was a bit of a disappointment if one did not want to pay the premium for the VIP badge. [Tip – if you are planning on going to a future Ace Comic Con I would strongly recommend purchasing your autographs as soon as they become available. Don’t wait.]
The location to redeem autograph pre-purchases and also purchase autographs was located in the Photo Ops section on the lower level. The procedure for redeeming autograph pre-purchases was not communicated well and luckily other attendees informed me of the procedure, which I really appreciated. I hope that Con-karma will pay them back in kind.
The logistics for the autographs were a little cumbersome. The autograph tables were located on the walkway between the mezzanine and upper level while the redemption/purchase table was located on the other end of the arena in the Photo Ops section. This made the trip back and forth a bit a long.
The lineup for autographs was probably the most comfortable queue I have ever experienced. Instead of typical line, we waited in seats in the Mezzanine section of the arena and were lead up to the line by row. VIPs were given first priority and were seated in one section, while General Admission purchases were seated in another. While the setup was a great idea on paper, the execution did hit a few snags due to confusion, since there was no clear or consistent organization to filling the seats. The arena staff tried to to manage the situation, however, they were not experienced or prepared for an event like this, since the arena is generally used for concerts. A few of the staff admitted this to the attendees and asked for patience when frustration levels escalated a few times during the day when sections were unintentionally merged or as rows were randomly selected to be moved to the actual autograph queue. The event organizers did not have a staff person managing this area, which was a misstep they can learn from. By having designated staff in the area to help coordinate the lineup it would minimize confusion and issues.
The vendor floor was located on the arena floor, which also shared a third of the space with the Main Stage. The number of vendors and selection was on the lighter side as compared to what I had hoped.
On the positive side, the event organizers effectively used the Jumbotron and monitors in the halls to broadcast the Main Stage panels. This allowed the attendees to see the panels throughout the venue. The Main Stage programming was interesting and included panel discussions, sword fighting demonstrations, and artistic demonstrations. The highlight for Saturday was the costume contest, which was won by a masterfully crafted Voltron.
I cannot speak to the Photo Op area as I did not purchase any photo ops. I did venture into the area (to redeem my autograph tickets) and it was packed. In speaking with a few people who purchased Photo Ops, their experiences were good.
My overall impression of this con was ‘Good with with areas for improvement. While this con had a solid lineup of guests, there are logistical elements which should be addressed if the organizers decide to return to this venue or use similar arena venues in future.