Ahhh, Megacon! We had been waiting all year for this. There were many people going and many plans loosely made for running into friends. We soon discovered it would be quite a different experience from previous visits. Some good, some bad, but overall MegaCon lived up to its name from mega traffic to massive attendance.
MegaCon is the largest multi-genre convention to take place in the central Florida area, possibly all of Florida at this point. Showcasing everything from anime to comics to cosplay, it has a little something for everyone.
Sean and I arrived on Friday and decided it would be nice to walk to the Orange County Convention Center in regular clothes to pick up badges and do a bit of wandering. And wander we did! Right on over the usual West concourse where we were greeted with signs saying MegaCon had moved to the South concourse across the street. To escape the heat we decided to go through that concourse and use the sky bridge. As we start navigating a crowd of red jackets and heavily make-upped faces, Sean pauses and says “Are you sure this isn’t it?” I too, briefly wondered if we had stumbled into some obscure anime gathering, but then saw all the Mark Kay signs and everything made sense.
The new location seemed smaller and more compact than usual. We spent Friday visiting friend’s booths where the topic of conversation always skewed back to the new location and how discombobulated we all were.
Saturday would be the day that may have scared some people away from MegaCon for good. FaceBook was filled with grumbling posts about the traffic and crowd. On a positive note, it was great to see so many people attending and participating.
Check out this article in the Orlando Business Journal about how Mega affected traffic all around the area: http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/blog/2014/03/how-a-nerd-convention-gridlocked-thei-drive-area.html
We were only staying a mile away, but in costumes and platform boots a mile can seem like an eternity. We optimistically tried to drive and about 30 minutes into the trip we weren’t even half way. We even had to stop for a pee break at one point. After an hour we made it to the parking lot we had a pass for from earlier, only to be told it was full. After driving around for a bit fruitlessly searching for parking, Sean decided to sacrifice himself and drop us all off at the entrance and park back at the hotel.
Three hours into the trip, we were finally all reunited and the only interest we had was food. The guys waited in line for 45 minutes to get a hotdog while Bridget and I camped out in the only open spot on the floor, which happened to be in front of the freight elevator.
After the hotdog feast we tried to go into the vendor area, which was packed. We did a quick lap and headed back out. It was just too much. Unfortunately the new segregated location forced everyone to be so jammed together there was just no relief and many socially angst-ridden geeks left early due to the claustrophobic effect.
Sunday would be MegaCon’s saving grace, as the crowds were not as insane and there was an effort to direct the foot traffic inside the building. We were able to explore the vendor area and wander past the celebrity corral. They were off to the side with a lot of lines, which made it hard to get a good look at who was there. After eating hotdogs for two days, we found the rest of the food vendors and were quite delighted with all the options.
The crowd started to pick up again around 1PM, but it still seemed navigable. I would highly recommend trying a Sunday if Saturday was just too overwhelming. Because I don’t like large crowds too much, Sundays have long been my favorite convention day. Some cons can seem like a ghost town on the last day, but Mega was still full of life right up to the last day.
See ya next year!