Tuesday, July 5, 2022

MegaCon Orlando Returns Bigger Than Ever

MegaCon Orlando, central Florida’s biggest comic con, returned to the Orange County Convention Center this past weekend. The convention, which took place Thursday through Sunday, boasted some incredible guests including Brendan Fraser, Elijah Wood, Sean Astin, Billy Boyd, Dominic Monaghan, Nathan Fillion, Kevin Smith, Jason Mewes, Mark Sheppard, and more.

The panels were spread over four days with lots of programming to choose from including Q&As with celebrity guests, anime programming, cosplay competitions, and more. We got to see quite a few Q&A panels, and all of the guests were lovely. The guests were engaging, and the lines to get in were organized and moved smoothly.

Some of the incredible Q&A panels included Giancarlo Esposito, Brent Spiner, Levar Burton, Brendan Fraser, Mark Sheppard, Nathan Fillion, and Star Wars: The Clone Wars cast Ashley Eckstein, Matt Lanter, and James Arnold Taylor.

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There were also special events featuring the four Hobbits from The Lord of the Rings (Wood, Astin, Boyd, and Monaghan) as well as another special event featuring Kevin Smith and Jason Mewes on Saturday night.

The Exhibition hall consisted of so many vendors and artists, as well as the autograph and photo-op lanes. It would take you hours just to get through them all, but they all had some incredible items and artwork to purchase.

Whether it’s the post-COVID boom or the guests MegaCon announced, this convention was bigger than ever. On Saturday alone, any convention’s normal busy day, the crowds were plentiful. Early numbers estimated 140,000 attendees, but having been there, I wouldn’t be surprised if it were way more than that.

There were a few things that I truly hope that MegaCon and Fan Expo improve on. First, parking on Saturday and Sunday was complete chaos — there was no direction of parking from any officers or employees like in previous years, and lots for the convention center filled up right after the convention opened. Even people (including myself) who had arrived early ended up waiting hours to park. We ended up parking elsewhere and taking an Uber to the convention center, missing programming in the morning and making everything a huge inconvenience.

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Second, the number of people in the building was suffocating. We have been to almost every MegaCon for years, and this was by far the busiest I’ve ever seen the convention. Lines to get any food or drink were easily 45 minutes or more, and there were not enough tables, which caused hundreds of people to sit on the convention floor to eat. The Exhibition Hall was so crowded that you were up against people no matter where you turned, and it wasn’t very ADA compliant in helping people get around. There were escalators up to the programming rooms, but the elevators were always incredibly busy, and there were lots of trash thrown around the escalators and all over the floor — including random bits of food, drinks, etc.

The autograph lines and photo-op area were a mess, with photo-ops sometimes running two hours late, having people miss their other obligations or asking for refunds in the end as they had to be elsewhere.

I’m not sure if MegaCon and Fan Expo were just not expecting that amount of people, or what the disconnect was from a normally fantastic-run experience.

Overall, it was a fun time getting to see some truly wonderful celebrities and get a chance to visit some talented vendors and artists. MegaCon Orlando is set to return from March 30 through April 2, 2023.

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