Tag Archives: convention tips

Celebration tips: The business of panel lines

This post has been completely updated for Celebration Anaheim.

There will be lines for panels. There is no avoiding the lines: There’ll even be a line to get in in the morning. There will be lines to get into the exhibit hall when it first opens. Lines are a Star Wars tradition; Realize that they will happen, and that you will have to stand in them. (There are Medical Badges available to those who need them.)

The good news is that rooms are cleared between panels, so don’t plan to spend the entire day in one place ala San Diego Comic-Con.

Check in early (at least an hour) if you plan to see any big stars.

Check in early (at least an hour) if you plan to see any big stars.

Some of the lines will be long; It entirely depends on the popularity of the panel. There is no doubt that the longest line at Celebration Anaheim will be the one for J.J. Abrams and Kathleen Kennedy on Thursday morning, and we already have all the details on that. Expect something similar, if lower key, for things like Gareth Edwards and Josh Trank on Sunday.

The next longest lines will likely be for celebrity panels and screenings; Plan to queue up at least an hour ahead of time for those, and be aware they will close off the queue if it gets full. Be sure to pick backups for the big events, just in case.

Most smaller panels for things like books will have much smaller queues; Give yourself time, but historically you can show up as early as 10 minutes beforehand and still get in the room.

However, Anaheim is looking like it could be the biggest Celebration yet, so it’s hard to say exactly how things will shape up. Many of the rooms, particularly the theater, are bigger than what we’ve seen in the past, though. Whatever the case, keep your eyes open, plan to be early, and have something on hand to amuse yourself and your friends if you need to wait.

(Autograph lines are a whole different ball game. Luckily, we have a post on them, too.)

Celebration Anaheim: Store exclusives, line queue details, and the floor plan

It’s the final Friday before Celebration, and the news is flowing.

First up, we have a look at what will be in the official Celebration store. Today we got the second batch, and I guess it’s just as well I forgot to blog the first part the other day, right? (Though at least I remembered the apparel.) My personal highlights are above, but there’s lots for everyone. And yes, the Death Star soccer ball from last Celebration Europe IS BACK!

We also have the details of how queuing up for Thursday’s big J.J. Abrams/Kathleen Kennedy panel will work. The indoor queue will open up at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, with wristbands being handed out at 6:00 am Thursday… Wristbands for all the rooms, not just the Celebration Stage. So even if you don’t mind a simulcast, plan to get up early.

And finally, the floor plan, in PDF form or see the gallery below.

Convention tips: How to photograph fans in costume


A convention is a great place for taking photos: there’s plenty of cool things worth turning into con memories — celebrity sightings, cool displays, and plenty of people in costumes. At a Star Wars convention, expect most of the costumers to be your fellow fans, so here’s some important etiquette for taking pictures of or with folks in costume:

The basic rule: A person in a costume is still a person. Acknowledge them and treat them with respect. Here’s how: Continue reading

Today’s must-read: Reporting harassment at a convention

With summer con season now formally ramping up, it’s as good a time as any to remind folks that harassment is not okay – and what to do about it.

Over at Scalzi’s Whatever today, writer Elise Matthesen shares how she reported her sexual harasser at recent convention. It’s a fantastic post with great advice about making sure things are formally on the record – the perpetrator in her case is not a first-time offender.

Inspired by Matthesen, Maria Dahvana Headley shares some of her own tales of being harassed at genre conventions. A former pirate negotiator, she has this chilling statement: “The pirates in the maritime industry were generally a great deal more polite than the creeps in the SFF world. They stuck to terms.”

It’s been a while since we’ve addressed this topic, and sorry to be a downer as we approach the weekend, but this is important stuff for everyone to know.

Convention tips: Showering is good, and other miscellany

Well, this is it: The last of our tips, at least for this round. (I’m sure we’ll all have tons more ideas at the con, though.)

Bathe. Shower. Every day at the very least. I have to say that generally Celebration is one of the least stinky cons that I’ve attended, but still, it’s worth saying. Also, deodorant! Toothpaste! Breath mints! And no, excessive perfume/body spray is not an acceptable substitute and can in fact be almost as bad as BO.

→ If you’re costuming, be sure to get familiar with the weapons policy.

→ From Eliz: “Beware the menus shoved under your door. Never order from somewhere that you have not verified with the front desk at least first. Most of those convenient menus are there as part of a scam. They may have outlawed the practice, and I’m annoyed hotels don’t do a better job policing who is wandering their halls, but I’d expect to see at least one of these. Again, the front desk people are your best bet on who to order out from. Also consider reviews on Yelp and Foursquare, but those could be fluffed up as well.

→ From Carla: “Walk through the dealer room at least once before buying anything, so you can get the best price. Exchanges/returns may be problematic. Buy responsibly. Think about whether you can afford something and where you’re going to put it before making a purchase. It’s easy to get carried away. That said I like to bring more cash than I actually plan to spend, just in case.”

Did we miss something? Now is the time to pitch in with your best hints, if it doesn’t fall under anything else we’ve covered.

Convention tip: The quick guide to Q&As

Everyone loves a Q&A, but here are a few thing we’ve picked up over the years.

The key, the big uno, the biggest thing you should do: Keep it snappy. The more succinct your question is, the more time the panelists have to answer it. Andrew: “Know what your question is ahead of time, and don’t ramble.” Bethany: “One question. Not a three part question, no follow ups. Numero uno is the way to go.” Nancy: “Have a second question in mind in case someone ahead of you asks your first question,” and “Avoid “yes/no” questions.”

Plenty more beneath the cut!

Continue reading

Convention tip: Don’t be a creeper, or, basic human decency 101

There’s been a lot of talk about people being inappropriate at conventions lately, in large part because of an incident at ReaderCon last month with author Genevieve Valentine. (Here’s a very long list of all the posts/responses/reaction.) It’s a disturbing story, in large part because it’s by no means uncommon, and thus something I felt I had to address in this series.

Yes, a lot of the things under the cut are ‘common sense’ about treating people respectfully and acting like a functional adult in public. But not common enough, sadly.

There was one incident at the last Celebration that was widely publicized. Was it the only one? Was it even the most extreme? I can’t say. I do know I’ve seen at least one woman talk about being made to felt uncomfortable by other attendees at CV, and that’s more than enough reason to write this.

Continue reading

Convention tip: Keeping in touch

As nice as it would be to have your convention buddies at your side 24/7, we know it doesn’t always work that way.

Get as many phone numbers as you can before the fact. Add them to your phone at leisure and avoid typos.

Practice basic phone courtesy in panels. Turn your ringer to silent or vibrate, don’t be afraid to send people directly to voicemail. Make sure your alerts and rings are unobtrusive or set to silent/vibrate. No one is going to be impressed by your ‘awesome’ ringtone if it disturbs the panel.

Texting is generally better than actually phoning someone. It’s much less disruptive, and that way your pals have the info when they do check their phone, instead of having to call you back to get it. (And also, some of us may be live-tweeting panels!) Diane: “It’s much much easier to get a good-enough cell signal to text than to do phone calls or email.” (Be warned that if you don’t have unlimited texting, you might go over your limit. It might be worth it to call up your provider and see if they can switch you to unlimited texting for just one month. It’s also a good time to unsubscribe any text alert subscriptions you may get from local news and such.)

Group messaging. If you’ll be with a large group, and most of them have smartphones, have everyone sign up for a free app called GroupMe. Eliz: “Instead of calling 10 people, you send out one text to a defined group and have them respond to the text. The app is available for most systems.” Bonus: It uses a lot less memory (at least on iOS) than Facebook Messenger.

Convention tips: Time to pack!

Artoo suitcaseThis weekend is packing time for many of us. We’ve already touched on the specifics of a lot of the things you’ll want to pack – bags, cameras/phones, sanitation, clothes/shoes, but you still need to get them all there. (Updated 3/20/15 for Celebration Anaheim.)

→ Do all your packing the day before at the very least. If you’re a costumer, you’ve probably already started and you’re probably a pro at this anyway and don’t need any of my paltery advice. But in any case, Bria recommends: “Start making your packing list at least a week in advanced especially if you’re a costumer or else you will forget something.”

→ If you’re flying, remember to check the TSA regulations for carry-ons. Check them now, and check them again right before you leave for the airport. You never know when someone will do something stupid and they change up the regulations. (The incident that sparked the whole limit-the-liquids thing? Happened the very day many Jaders were flying into Indianapolis for GenCon several years back.)

→ Don’t forget to bring photo ID, money, credit cards, health insurance cards and the like. Hey, you never know when you’ll bash your head on a dresser. (Ahem.)

→ Don’t pack your major electronics in your checked luggage. Keep your laptop, phone, their chargers (you can leave extras, if you brought them, in the checked bag) in your carry-on in your possession at all times.

→ If you have locks on your suitcase, make sure they’re TSA locks. Otherwise, the TSA will see to it that your bag arrives with no locks.

→ A plastic zip-top bag is good to use in your checked luggage as well. David: “Use gallon-sized ziplock bags to pack small, important items in the top layer of your bag where you can find them quickly. Bring a few extra bags – they will come in handy for stuff you never would have thought possible. Try hard not to pack more than you truly need.” BAGS WITHIN BAGS. Even for items that won’t leak, I like to put them in reusable bags and pouches: It’s easier to organize and keep like-items together.

→ If you’re driving, bring an extra bag or container for the stuff you’ll buy. If you’re flying, keep in mind what you’ll purchase, leave some room in your bag, and be aware that the USPS and FedEx will be on the premises. On that note, here’s one from Nancy: “I pack a collapsible nylon tote that zips. It’s great as an extra piece of luggage if you end up buying lots of stuff; put the fragile stuff in the suitcase on the way home and your clothes can go in the tote.”

→ Do pack extras, but not too many extras. Keep in mind what you’re likely to buy at the con – do you need to pack a t-shirt for every day when you know damn well you’ll buy at least 3 of them there? Nancy also suggests “a measuring tape to help with sizing on shirts I might buy when I can’t try them on.”

→ Again: You will want to bring a light jacket, or at least a hoodie. It can get chilly at night in April, even in southern California. (I was shocked how cold it got when we in L.A. for Celebration V.)

→ Airlines do have weight limits for bags: Usually 50 pounds. If this is something you think you’ll run into, look into getting a luggage scale.

→ Don’t forget your toiletries! If you travel regularly, or even semi-regularly, keep a bag with travel-size shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste, toothbrush, and the rest ready to go. (Though don’t forget to check the levels and refill/replace when needed!)

→ Don’t forget pajamas. I’m only saying this because it’s the thing I almost always almost forget to pack.

→ A bag for laundry. Yes, the hotel might have bags, but they’re small and plastic. Get a bag you can throw in with your laundry when you get home. In fact, the first thing you should do when you get home is laundry. Worried about bedbugs? Make it hot. (Warning: Probably not best for printed tees.)

→ And one more from Nancy: “Earplugs are a lifesaver if the hotel is noisy.” Why does that make me think of DragonCon?

If you’re a costumer and looking for specific advice, I apologize for my ignorance. But I did find a nice printable cosplay packing checklist from Team Blasé. This is a fertile topic, so cosplayers and well-traveled fans alike, please share more in the comments if you note any glaring omissions.