FAN EXPO Chicago – They are a large scale company that specializes in fan conventions, who took over the failing Wizard World. This kept a large fan convention in the Chicago area. It was nice to have the void filled.
The Red Carpet Cosplay Showcase – This was a great idea enabling cosplayers to show off their costume without the pressure of competing in a contest. It also gave the photographers a place to shoot a lot of really cool cosplays all in one place. So for me, this one is a win-win.
Entrance Security – I only heard one complaint about security this weekend and it was about how they handled a prop and their attitude toward the cosplayer. During past Wizard World events, I encountered many security hassles during entry for one reason or another. FAN EXPO’s staff handled the job much better. The checking of weapons and props was much better as well. I preferred the use of plastic ribbons over the zip ties, as ties tend to damage props that cosplay builders spend a lot of time on.
Carpeting – The carpet was just in the main aisles, but it made a huge difference. Yes, just the fact the carpet was brought back was a blessing for everyone who walks around the convention floor all day.
FAN EXPO CHICAGO – Saturday Cosplay Pt. 1
Fan EXPO CHICAGO – Saturday Cosplay Pt. 2
FAN EXPO CHICAGO – Saturday Cosplay Pt. 3
FAN EXPO CHICAGO – Saturday Cosplay Pt. 4
FAN EXPO CHICAGO – Saturday Cosplay Pt. 5
Layout – The number one complaint I’ve heard from vendors and fans alike was the floor layout. The aisles were tight and it seemed like too much was crammed into that one space, instead of having the two halls as Wizard World did.
Location – The placement of nearly everything, including Artist Alley, the celeb autograph queues, the bars, the food court, and cosplay areas seemed to be jumbled about as if no real thought was put into flow and groupings. This caused issues for almost anyone that had to wait in a line. Celebrity lines ran into each other, bars were tucked into side rows that no one saw, and competing vendors were next to each other. Even Wild Bill’s Soda suffered due to placement; they always have a line, but they were so inconvenient to get near that most didn’t bother. The tucked away food court area was a nice idea, but there was no signage and you don’t necessarily know it was there.
Seating – There was seating provided to your average con-goer, but only just enough that might satisfy the Thursday crowd’s needs. There were “Special” lounges for the Premium and VIP badge holders, but those rooms were way on the other side of the convention down near the Red Carpet.
Training – Crew members were underinformed or unknowledgeable about anything going on. They frequently conflicted each other about schedules. The only way most seemed to know the location of anything was if they had already walked the floor themselves.
Red Carpet Placement – While the location that was used made it easy for the cosplayers to line up, why wasn’t it placed in a community area near all the other cosplay interest type of things? As a cosplayer, it left me with the feeling it was an afterthought.
Cosplay Area – There was no set cosplay corner as there had been in the past. It seemed like it was just fractured up into three different areas.
Schedules and Postings – This was a HUGE sticking point for many. Schedules seemed to only be posted outside of the panel rooms and nowhere else for panels. If it weren’t for the fact I walked the entire showroom floor, I wouldn’t have ever found any of the panel rooms, nor the VIP and Premium lounges.
Celebrity Schedules – There were none. They were not even posted in the Celebrity aisles, frustrating a lot of fans. I had a fan tell me that Kevin Smith autographs were still being sold, even though Kevin had not finished his first group yet.
Autograph & Photo Lines – VIP, Premium, and standard badge holders all paid different price points. In some areas, there were separate lines. Sometimes. I would think if you paid the higher price for the privilege, you should get a priority line to see the desired celeb sooner. But, from what I heard from a godly number of autograph seekers, they were queued with everyone else.
While I did greatly enjoy my time at FAN EXPO Chicago, I believe some changes are needed if the con is to grow and have people return each year. I have already heard some say they were so dissatisfied that they would not be returning next year.
I give FAN EXPO Chicago 3 out of 5 stars and hope to see this change next year.
This has been another Reptile’s Random Review.
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