Tag Archives: convention tips

Convention tip: Watch out for the rumor mill

Star Wars Celebration III - Asajj Ventress vs Anakin SkywalkerGranted, you might find a cunning doppelganger… (CIII photo by Pop Culture Geek.)

At Celebration V, a Jader on volunteer duty ran into a fan who had heard that Hayden Christensen was attending and had driven hours just to see him. Alas, it was just a rumor and the Jader had to break the news that no, Hayden wasn’t coming.

Don’t let this happen to you! Remember that the only solid information on Celebration guests will come from StarWars.com or StarWarsCelebration.com, and you should always – always – check with them before taking any such ‘news’ to heart.

Yes, as a fan site, we’re not beyond posting rumors, but we do make an effort to clearly mark them as such… Authors, for instance, aren’t listed on those sites, but we always link to an official source. (Usually Del Rey on Facebook, these days.)

The same goes for all other cons. If there’s a guest you really want to see, always check the convention web site and/or the personalities’ personal page or Facebook fan page (assuming they have one and keep it updated) before committing to a convention. Also be aware that despite all this, sometimes things come up and people may have to cancel at the last minute.

Convention tip: Beware the con crud!

...Some sort of mask might not be a bad idea, either.

If you’ve been to any amount of conventions, you know all about con crud. The last day or so of con, you get a little sneezy. Then, before you know it, you’ve got a full-blown cold on your hands – if you’re lucky.

I drove home from Celebration III with bronchitis. Five hours in the car. With only bronchitis for company. NOT RECOMMENDED. Luckily, the precautions are fairly simple and nothing but basic common sense. Well, mostly.

Don’t neglect sleep. As fun as it is to stay up all night chatting (oh, do Jaders know) it’s important to get a good night’s sleep. It helps your immune system and makes you pretty!

Eat well and stay hydrated. Don’t skip too many meals. Yes, you’ll probably end up eating not-so-great food in the convention center and/or granola bars at least once a day. (Yes, you can bring in food.)

Seriously, stay hydrated. There’s no lack of bathrooms in modern convention centers. Drink lots of water.

Wash your hands well and a lot. Use hand sanitizer when you’re on the go, and after handling items like elevator buttons and menus.

Be prudent with physical contact. Hugs and handshakes spread germs! GERMS! Let’s practice the art of the brofist this year.

Vitamins! Some recommend Vitamin C, some an Airborne regimen, author Jennifer Brozek swears by Sambucus and for the Canadians, Michelle Heumann recs ColdFX. I don’t know what works, effectiveness probably varies from person to person and nothing is foolproof, but it’s worth a try.

→ Want to scare your roommate a little? Pack antibacterial wipes and wipe down all the door handles and other hard surfaces in your room. Hey, it’s a bit much, but better safe than sorry! (You might also want to avoid the glasses in the room, and touch the bedspread as little as possible. Yes, maybe I have watched too much CSI…)

And if you do get con crud… Well, I’ll let Paula take this one: “As a public health professional, I BEG people that if they do become sick to STAY IN THEIR HOTEL! Don’t take out the rest of us!”

On that note, if you can swing it, try and have a buffer day off between your travel day and going back to work so you can sleep in and just generally wind down. Cons may technically be ‘vacation,’ but they can be pretty exhausting.

Oh, and be careful with your meds. Last time I got the crud I accidentally took two Claritins within an hour of each other and ended up so zoned out that all I did was stare at the back of the seat the entire plane ride home. (It’s a good thing I wasn’t driving that time!) NOT RECOMMENDED.

Convention tip: The basics of bags

Everything you need, at the tip of your fingers…

At a convention like Celebration, held in an area where everything is so spread out with limited transportation options, many folks will be carrying a lot of stuff with them. I generally recommend choosing a messenger bag instead of a backpack, if only because it’s easier to keep track of, be aware of, and get into while you’re on the go. AND it won’t get your back all sweaty when you’re outdoors.

However, no matter what you choose, don’t forget that it takes up space, and things do get rather crowded at cons:

Erika: “If it’s a backpack or a messenger bag crammed to bursting, be courteous: when you turn, so does the extra two feet sticking out of your back or side. Anyone behind you has minimal warning before you rudely hit them with your precious, but weighty con swag as they ogle the booth next to you. Everyone loves goodies, but a little self awareness never hurt anyone. I’ve been hit so many times with backpacks at conventions and fallen into displays and other fans that I really can’t stand them. I do understand the desire to bring one, though.”

James: “Definitely be aware of your bag-bulk when turning. I’ve seen quite a few people get whapped by over-extended cabooses, er.. backpacks. If you’re trying to fit through a tight space, such as when cutting through a line of people, don’t turn suddenly.”

And exercise caution! You don’t want to lose anything: “Keep them zipped up! you don’t want your water, camera, or giant pile of pens to fall out. don’t keep anything valuable in outer pockets that you can’t see (again, another reason for a messenger bag where you keep it on you side, under control of your arm, instead of on your back, where you can’t see thieving fingers.)”

As for what goes in the bag, other than the obvious?

→ Protective items for collectibles, whatever you plan to buy. Obviously a poster tube is too big, but a solid-sided folder or filer would protect smaller items like autographs or comic books. That example is on the larger side, but you can find something smaller and just as sturdy in any office supply store.

→ Hand sanitizer, to help prevent the spread of con crud.

→ Basic snacks. (Beth: “Granola bars, dried fruit, nuts, what ever you like. Helps get one through times when you are waiting in a long line and cannot get to a food vendor.”)

→ A refillable water bottle – the ones that have the built-in filters are good and easy to find these days.

→ Breath mints or gum: The stronger the better. I recommend Altoids, but whatever works for you.

→ Basic medical supplies. Aspirin/ibuprofen, allergy pills, and of course prescriptions and anything else you use regularly. (Get a small pill case and put several in one.) A couple of band-aids. Throw them all in a little bag or side pocket and hope you won’t have to use them, but you’ll be grateful if you do.

→ Extra battery, cell phone charger, etc.

Celebration tip: Navigating the autograph hall

Jaders have a lot of con experience, but one thing we haven’t had much to do with over the years has been the autograph area. So we asked Celebration vet Justin LaSalata, the U.S. News Editor for JediNews.co.uk, to give our readers the rundown. Updated 3/20/15 for Celebration Anaheim.

Temuera Morrison by starwarsblog on FlickrTemuera Morrison signs at Celebration V. (Jenny Elwick / Official Star Wars Blog)

One of the main highlights of a Celebration is the opportunity to meet the actors/actresses from the Star Wars saga, and once again Official Pix will be heading up the Autograph Hall for Celebration VI. For fans who have never had the chance to experience a Celebration, or are just getting into Celebration autograph collecting now, here is a brief overview of what to expect from the Autograph Hall at Celebration Anaheim.

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Convention tip: Cameras, phones, camera phones and sharing your photos

You may be tempted to show off a great Star Wars phone case, but this may be the best time to switch it up – unless you made it yourself, you probably won’t be the only one using it. Same goes for ringtones!

Unless you’re a professional, or otherwise used to hauling around a large camera, take one that’s portable and small. I’m sure a lot of folks will be using cell phone cameras, which are usually both!

If you are planning on using your cell phone to take pictures, and you use an iPhone or Android device, it might be worth looking into Instagram. It’s a nifty little social photo app that you can either take pictures through or use to post existing photos taken by the default camera setup. Yes, it’s best known for the faux-retro filters, but you don’t have to use them – and you can link it to your Twitter account.

For old-school photographers, or those who don’t want to share on the go, I remain, always and forever, partial to Flickr. It may be losing ground to Instagram these days (and with good reason – there’s a mobile app, but it’s awful) but it still remains the best photo archive/browsing site out there.

Anyway, a few more practical tips:

Luci: “Take a Sharpie and masking tape and put your name and address (or cell phone number if it’s not your cell phone) on the camera. You will be surprised by how many get returned to you. At DragonCon people are always turning those things and iPhones in because they are honest but by the end of the con, no owner shows up.”

Erika: “Remember to pack some extra batteries in your backpack/bag within easy reach.” And a spare charger, cell phone users! In fact, bring two, and leave the one you use overnight at the hotel – that way you have a spare if the other one gets lost. You might also want to look into a battery case or something similar.

And don’t forget to keep an eye on your camera batteries. True story from James: “Thursday night at Comic-Con, I plugged my camera into the laptop to download the pictures, and left the camera on all night (the batteries use a separate wall charger.) When I went to take a pic on Friday, it was dead.”

“Tip 1: remember to charge your camera batteries at night and Tip 2: remember to grab the batteries in the morning when you grab the camera – if you need to, leave your camera battery door open to remind you that there’s no battery in it, since usually outlets are not in obvious places in the hotel. Having a spare battery pack is smart!”

Celebration tip: Expand your horizons

Today’s tip is from Nancy: “Go to panels and events that are outside your usual Star Wars interests.”

“One thing about being a volunteer is that I’ve staffed panels that didn’t excite me in advance. I’m nearly always surprised, because the panel is waaaay more interesting than I’d expected. The little people actors who played Ewoks? Were hilarious. Dave and Lou Elsey? Were engaging and smart and enthusiastic and just generally adorable. I could go on and on, but the main point is to be open to new experiences. Celebration is a really terrific chance to try out new-to-you parts of the fandom.”

This is totally true. I ended up at a couple of Clone Wars panels at CV, and they were incredibly fun, despite the fact that I could count on one hand the number of episodes I’d actually watched at that point. And after seeing this video, I really wish I’d gone to the voice actors one!

And yes, while a lot of the high-profile events will have lines and fill up fast, there are often plenty of seats left at others.

Celebration tip: Be nice to the volunteers!

Today’s tip is a short one from Paula: “Remember that the vast majority of people staffing the rooms are volunteering. They don’t always know what’s going on, but will help as best they can if you ask nicely. So be nice.”

As someone who’s volunteered in the past… We do want to help you, but sometimes we can’t – when I was stationed on the dealer room floor at CV, I felt awful every time someone asked me where something was and I didn’t know! Alas, a side effect of volunteering is that sometimes you’re not quite familiar with anything outside of your immediate area, particularly for the first few days – I could direct people to the store, the bathrooms, the autograph hall, the artists, tattoo area and certain booths, but one of that day’s half-dozen Clone Wars panels? Forget it.

More related advice in the comments! Anyone who’s volunteered at a Celebration or any such con, feel free to chime in – on-topic!

Convention tip: Clothes and shoes!

Celebration V: ThursdayWithout the armor this ensemble may be too chilly for indoors! Also, probably inappropriate.

Here’s some advice straight from the CJ list… Yes, con veterns, some of this may be familiar, some of it may not.

James: “Dress in layers! Outside in Orlando is hot and humid (and sometimes even wet), while inside the convention center, some of the panel rooms are super air conditioned (especially first thing in the morning!) If you get cold easily, have a second layer to avoid chills in over-AC’d rooms,especially if you were just sweaty outside.”

I’m one of those people who’s cold everywhere and the Orlando convention center is freezing. And given how few people wanted fans when I was passing them out at CV, it’s not just me. At least bring (or plan to buy) a light sweatshirt.

Nancy: “Two pairs of comfy shoes. Your feet will thank you if you switch shoes every day.”

Make sure they’re already broken in! Some advanced tips:

David: “A little Gold Bond powder in your shoes will help, as will a pair of good work or sport insoles. An old hiking trick is to wear nylon socks next to your foot, with cotton athletic socks over those. It creates a wicking effect that will keep your feet dry and cool.”

Yav: “Plus a few little pieces of pre-cut Moleskin. Just in case you get a blister. The stuff is magic.”

Convention tip: Vacation-ize your Twitter

Some people take vacations where they can ditch all their tech, or at least keep it in the hotel room for after-hours perusal. I am not one of those people, at least at a Celebration. As a news-blogger, it’s my prerogative, nay, my duty, to keep at least an iPhone on me at all times. Because while yes, while there will be plenty of real-life socializing, I must tweet.

I have no idea how many people I was following during Celebration VI, my first Twitter-enabled convention, but right now I am following almost 300 people. That’s a LOT of tweets, so the first thing I want to do is see how I can – not to be heartless, ahh screw it – ditch some folks temporarily. (Temporarily.) Luckily, Twitter has a built-in feature that will serve me well in not only keeping all the unfollowed people together, but allow me to even backread – Lists.

I decided that my first target would be mostly professional entertainment sites and journalists that are unlikely to cover Celebration. For them, I created a list called Entertainment. Next, for the science fiction/fantasy and comics crowd I suspect won’t cover the con, I created the imaginatively named SFF-Comics. All together, that’s 60 accounts that will be safely out of the way while I’m frantically trying to keep up.

I haven’t actually unfollowed anyone yet, but the lists will make that easy. A day or so before the con, all I’ll have to do is go to the list members pages and unfollow. After the con is over, I can follow them all back. And best of all, I can still check up on them, via the list, whenever I have a spare moment. (Hello, airport.)

Granted, most of these accounts are people who don’t follow me back/barely know I exist, so I don’t think there’ll be many hurt feelings when I unfollow – but keep that in mind. A ‘If I unfollow you today, it’s only temporary’ tweet may be in order if your choices are otherwise. Or, you could always create a special list just for Celebration, and avoid the issue entirely! Lists are cool that way. For what it’s worth, here’s mine.

Stay tuned for more tips!