Full disclosure: for most of my life I never understood the appeal of conventions (cons, if you will). Sure, I like comics, superheroes, and shows like The Walking Dead as much as the next person. However, taking precious vacation time to spend several days staring and shouting at actors, writers, and artists…and the whole dressing up thing…
Then, as it goes with most things in life we think we don’t like, my husband and I actually went to a con. Oh! The error in my ways! Being big Walking Dead fans, the Walker Stalker Cons are our favorites. As we prepare for our second convention in Atlanta later this fall, I wanted to give you a little glimpse into this world. So brave the zombie apocalypse and get ready for four tips to help you make the most of your con experience!
Everything that you read here are my own opinions, not being compensated for them. Just sharing to hopefully help one of you out and spread some geeky Walking Dead love.
- Make a Plan: The reality is that WSC, especially in Atlanta is massive. Begin your planning outside of the convention by either picking the affiliated hotel or one very close by. The days get long, your hands get full with fun purchases. It’s great to be able to pop back to the hotel super quick to recharge. Check out the Walker Stalker Con website in advance to see which people you want to try to see and which panels you want to be able to attend. Last year in Atlanta, WSC actually had a pretty nice app that would let you schedule this plan in advance and track your progress throughout the weekend. Keep in mind that not all artists will be there every day, so plan accordingly. Also keep in mind that some lines for artists are obnoxiously long (think Norman Reedus or Steven Yeun). Which leads me to #2…
- Buy an Upgraded Pass: This might be a little controversial of a tip, and one I know not every person can afford. However, if you can, it will save you an unbelievable amount of time. WSC has 4 levels of tickets: general admission, VIP, gold, and platinum. Each level up comes with cool extras. For example, platinum gets you (among other things) a lunch with some of the actors in the green room and an autograph pass for Andrew Lincoln (!!!)… they will also set you back $1600 a piece in Atlanta so…. VIP is far more attainable at $240 for a three-day pass. What do these passes get you that make them worth shelling out the hard-earned cash for? Special lines for autographs, meet and greets, and photos. And what does that mean? You save some serious time.
WSC actually does a really great job managing crowds and lines. I do not envy their job – when you have over 70,000 fans attending, it can get pretty crazy. However, some artists just have a really high demand so the lines get long. The order for signatures / photos / meet and greets goes like this: if a platinum pass holder is in line they are first, followed by any gold ticket holders, then VIPs and then general admission. They will toss in some GA ticket holders periodically to keep that line moving, but I think you can imagine the benefit to an upgraded pass. At the Chicago WSC a couple of years back we met some GA ticket holders who literally had spent all day in line to meet Melissa McBride (AKA Carol TWD). FYI – the last wave of VIP, gold and platinum passes for WSC Atlanta 2017 go on sale 02Apr2017.
- Bring Cash & Things to Have Signed: A little combo tip for you here. When it comes to meeting the artists, it is a cash based affair. I’ll never forget the first con my husband and I attended. We very naively did not realize you would have to actually pay each artist for a signature. Yeah, I can hear you laughing … clearly we were not thinking. What I really like about WSC is that most of the artists will have a combo price that lets you meet them, get some selfies, and their autograph either on a free headshot that they supply, or some cool item that you have brought with you. The pricing varies wildly. I’ve had some combos be $30 while others have been $80 or more. Again, see tip #1 in regards to planning. Vendors, in my experience will accept credit cards with open arms.
Headshots are great and all, but it’s been so much more fun to have a thing for the artists to sign. For us, that means tracking down Funko Pop figures for TWD cast to sign. This year we are planning ahead and bringing some with us. We can then spend more time actually grabbing the signatures and meeting the cast, then running around frantically shopping. You getting that running theme of planning your time? 😉
- Embrace the Geeky Magic: Imagine being surrounded by 70,000 people who all love the same exact thing you do. It is a weird and absolutely excellent feeling. The people we’ve met at these conventions along with the slew of volunteer staff who make it all happen have genuinely been some of the nicest people. I’ve never had so many random conversations, people stop to offer me tips, share a table at lunch, or help me out. It restores a little bit of your faith in the world so embrace it and contribute to it.
One way to immerse yourself in it all is to join in some cosplay – dressing up as a specific character. I’ve come a long way from my pre-con days – for WSC Chicago 2015 I dressed up for the first time. I was incredibly nervous, had no clue what the heck I was doing….and it was amazing. While I’ve only done it that one time, I can definitely appreciate the fun involved with preparing your cosplay, as well as the fact that it completely changes your con experience for the better. Nothing like having the person you are dressed up as demand to take a picture with you, right?
WSC had conventions throughout the US as well as in Europe and Australia. It seems like every year they add a new location to the mix. It’s a great way to share you Walking Dead love with some fellow walker stalkers. And hey, if you are headed to Atlanta, why not pop down to Senoia to see where alot of the filming takes place! Want some tips for that? Check out one of my earlier posts here.