How ‘Supernatural’ and Creation Entertainment are Destroying the Convention Competition
Thanks to Creation Entertainment, I was able to attend this past weekend’s Supernatural Convention in Orlando, Florida. This was the convention’s first stop in the Orlando area, and was hosted at a local Hilton hotel right across from the widly-popular Disney Springs at the Walt Disney World Resort.
I had previously heard a lot about the conventions, which take place in cities all across the United States – and they’ve now expanded to the UK this year – during multiple weekends throughout the year. The conventions are a great source to meet, take photos with and listen to stories from the show’s stars.
Packages can be bought ahead of time – and can come with perks such as complimentary autographs, reserved seats, a ticket to the Saturday Night Special convention and the Gold package also gets a separate Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles panel. You’re then able to purchase photo ops – some of which could be solo pictures or group pictures – and autograph tickets where you could get something signed by one of the actors.
I attended the convention for two days – Saturday and Sunday. You’re given a paper ticket that you can redeem, which was easy as easy could get. There were signs pointed to locations, where registration was as well as where to buy photo ops and autographs, so everything was very easy to find. The lines were short, which made getting a wristband very smooth. I was attending with a General Admission weekend pass which had no extra perks compared to the other packages available.
They, like most conventions, had a vendor area where attendees could browse and purchase items relating to the show and more. Some of our favorite booths we saw this weekend were Con*Quest Journals, Family Don’t End with Blood, Eldwenne’s Fantasy and Scout Villegas. Jason Manns, Louden Swain and Samantha Smith also had tables in the vendor area, along with Creation Entertainment (the company the puts on the conventions) where they sold t-shirts, mugs, and more.
The theater opened on Saturday, and the majority of the rows are lettered and numbered, as the attendees who bought either Gold, Silver, Copper or preferred passes had assigned seating. General Admission holders were free to sit in other spots. Surprisingly, there were plenty of great seats available for GA holders to pick from, and I ended up with a great seat in the first row of the GA section.
Before you know it, the convention hosts, Richard Speight, Jr. and Rob Benedict came out along with Louden Swain, and got the crowd going for the day. Rob and Rich were great hosts; they were engaging, comedic, and it’s no wonder these two are dubbed the Kings of Con. The banter these two have – it was amazing to see in person – really got the crowd excited and you could see many wide-eyed people who couldn’t believe they were in front of them. Rob and Rich asked if this was anyone’s first convention, and the majority of the room raised their hand. This was great – this was a new city for the convention and most of the attendees were new, which hopefully is a good sign that Creation and Supernatural will return to Orlando.
Rob and Rich introduced Mark Pellegrino, who came out and told little tidbits about Lucifer, visiting Disney World and more. Panels are usually around 45 minutes, with lines on either side of the stage for fans to ask questions. After Mark’s panel, Rob, Rich and Louden Swain came back out to wrap up the panel and immediately brought out Briana Buckmaster, Kim Rhodes and Samantha Smith. The electricity in the room was buzzing, as this was only two days after the Wayward Sisters backdoor pilot aired. You could tell the women and the crowd were all excited, with great fan questions about the show.
Next up was a panel consisting of Rob, Rich, and Matt Cohen. This was one of the panels I was looking forward to the most, because there’s always so many videos and pictures of this panel and people saying that these are their favorite. The dynamic these three have (I’ve officially dubbed them the ‘trifecta’) is great and you can tell the audience really responds to them well.
After the panel, I decided to venture into the vendor room, as Jason Manns announced he’d be signing at his vendor table. His new album, Recovering with Friends had just come out the day prior, so what better way to get his album then directly from him and he sign it? Jason was extremely nice and I introduced myself and thanked him for the interview he just did with us and Louden Swain. Jason was at his table a lot over the course of the weekend, and was just a fantastic person and really took his time to talk to everyone.
One of the coolest things that I think happens, is Louden Swain will usually announce a time where they’ll do a little acoustic jam either in the vendor area, or right outside of it. For this convention, the vendor area was a little small so there was a patio right outside that they tweeted they would be at. When we arrived, there were a few fans and more and more starting coming. The cool thing was everyone was really calm and collected – people were respectful of giving space when needed and everyone was just talking to each other. One of the most fun things was us waiting on the patio for Louden Swain to arrive and Misha Collins walking by with his meet and greet group – which he usually ends up taking on an adventure. He was walking around the hotel with his group, chatting excitedly. I was surprised – how many other conventions offer fans the opportunity to do this?
Louden Swain came out and then Jason came out and sang with them and the whole little crowd that had gathered was singing and it was just one of the best experiences of the convention. After that, Louden Swain was doing their autograph session, so I bought a copy of their new live album, Saturday Night Special, for them to sign. Since the vendor area was small, they were signing in the back of the theater. Again, props to Creation for having every volunteer on top of it – anyone who asked was told exactly where the signing was, even though the schedule said something different. Rob Benedict, Billy Moran, Stephen Norton and Michael Borja were amazing to meet. Their excitement was infectious, all of them took the time to talk and it was honestly one of the highlights of the convention.
After the signing, we had an interview set up with Matt Cohen (you can see that here!) and he is just the nicest person of all time. We can’t rave enough about him!
Saturday was just about wrapped up, with Misha Collins having the last panel. Photo ops and autographs went on during panels and after, and each photo op was numbered; if your photo op was during the time of a panel, they would put the numbers on the screens they had set up next to the stage so that you’d know when it was your turn. That was one of the most useful things I had seen and was a great way to let fans still see a panel and not miss their photo op.
As Saturday ended, I left really excited for Sunday. Saturday was great – everything was smooth and organized, more than any other convention I had been to. The Creation staff was knowledgeable, and every person I saw was having a great time.
As Sunday came, you could tell it was going to be much more crowded – after all, this was the only day that Jared Padalecki and Jensen Ackles were at the convention. The line to get into the theater was very long; most of the line was full of GA holders, hoping to secure a good seat. Even after being about 50 people back in line, I still managed to get a great seat. The theater was much more full than the day before, and Jared and Jensen were doing photo ops, which left a ton of people coming in and out of the theater. Again, I have to compliment Creation for handling the crowds and any questions well. The first panel of the day belonged to Mark Pellegrino again, followed by Samantha Smith. Jared and Jensen’s panel was next, to which I’d be surprised if there was one seat left in the theater. They were so, so, so entertaining. Every answer they gave was intriguing to hear, and they joke around with the audience, the fans asking questions, and each other. They commanded the stage for over an hour, and many – including myself – wished it wasn’t over. They left to screams and cheers, with fans buzzing about how “this was the best day ever.” Right after their panel, there was a small break where some autographs were being done – including Richard Speight, Jr. I bought an autograph for Richard, who was just as charming as he was on stage. Is there anyone in this cast who isn’t just so humble and appreciative of what they’re doing? After autographs were done, it was the last panel of the convention – Rob and Rich. To hear these two for their panel was something that I’ve been looking for, especially since Kings of Con had been released and fans have been anticipating any news on another season. They told some amazing stories about the process behind the show, any guest stars we wanted and more.
I’ve been to many conventions before, but I think this is the first time I’ve had what is called “con blues.” I realized that the convention was over – and boy, was I sad. I just wanted more. More panels, more time spent meeting friends, more autographs, more photo ops. I’ve heard a few people say this weekend, “when you go to one, you want to go to them all,” and that’s something that I’ve found to be incredibly true. After this weekend, all I was thinking about was “which convention can I go to next?”
A lot of fans will make comments about the prices – and they are steep compared to other conventions. However, after comparing what other conventions offer in the VIP packages versus what Creation does, I believe it’s worth it. The more costly packages, such as Gold, Silver and Copper – offer you assigned seating – you never have to worry about lining up extra early to ensure a good seat. They offer quite a few complimentary autographs – most of which will run your budget up if you bought them individually. Creation is finding a way to give a unique experience to guests and make it worth it.
Between the company and the actors, It’s a package deal. It’s the way the conventions are run so smoothly by Creation; it’s the amount of love and care that the cast puts in – it never once felt like they were “just there to do a job” – it felt like they genuinely enjoyed what they were doing. I met so many wonderful people and everyone was so friendly and welcoming. That’s why this convention is so successful. It’s the amount of love put into it. I will tell you two things, Supernatural and Creation are killing the convention competition, and this will definitely not be my last Supernatural convention.