So after enjoying this convention in 2021 and seeing the guest list my wife and I decided to return to Huntsville for another go at this convention. It was really interesting going back to where I first got the Giant Snorlax and with how last year went I did things a little bit differently. Mainly I made sure to get one of the sponsored hotels for the event just to have an easier time parking and navigating my way around.
So first I’ll go over guests and like last year the list was really good. A very diverse list of actors and comic professionals spanning all kinds of genres. I got a couple of autographs for my Fire Emblem collection, my wife got to meet DJ Qualls, someone she has been eager to meet for a really long time, and we both got to meet Greg Baldwin, the voice of Iroh. Of course, Iroh has a special place for both of us, especially after I got my wife a recording from Baldwin via Colorworld as an anniversary gift. So overall the guest list was really good and the lines were not bad at all. We had a VIP pass which made lines almost non-existent but even without it, the lines were usually pretty manageable with a couple of exceptions. It was nice seeing how easy it was to access everybody and get autographs.
Vendors were pretty cool too a nice variety, but because this was a comic and pop culture expo it was heavily geared more towards the genres that really fit well into both categories so mainly stuff like Marvel and DC merch. I like that merch and as a whole, the vendors offered a diverse and fun shopping experience but it could diversify more since the guest list incorporates a wider variety than the merch offered by the vendors. I also found the vendors to actually be really crowded so I feel like I could have missed out on a lot of stuff and maybe that would have even changed my opinions about the vendors as a whole if I was able to get a better look at everything.
The panels were also fun, mainly Q and A panels with the guests. Now, these panels are always fun but that was about all this event could do with only two-panel rooms for the entire day and so many guests. I think this could really benefit from an added room to include a few more fan panels as well as some more interactive stuff. I also think that the audio needs some work. If you’re at the front of the panel room it’s not hard to hear what’s going on but in the back, it’s very difficult and the panel room isn’t that big so I was pretty surprised to have so much trouble hearing them. Plus the lighting was on the dim side for some reason so I honestly didn’t make any attempt to take pictures which I was hoping to be able to do. The convention features an impressive lineup of tabletop RPG experiences, video games, and more but as for live events all that the convention had was one band performing. It was a really good band but it was just the one. So going forward I think if the convention really focuses on giving more options on panels and activities to do I think that’s going to really help keep people in the convention center longer.
Parking was way easier this year because I got a convention-sponsored hotel, but I was a bit annoyed by it too. I got to the event early on Saturday and it was too early to check-in so I had to pay $5 for parking at the hotel when guests were supposed to park for free. Then on top of that after I checked in I had to get the free overnight pass to put in the car. It wasn’t a big issue by any means but the fact that I had to pay for free parking for any reason and the fact that I had to make an extra trip to and from the car because I couldn’t get the parking pass before I checked in was just more annoying than anything.
Overall I had an unforgettable experience at this convention. I will for sure keep an eye on the guestlist for next year but after this year I will do a couple of things differently. I might plan to do more stuff around the city or maybe along the way to the convention because with a VIP pass and the size of the vendor’s hall this wasn’t an event I really spent a long time at. The only reason I needed a hotel in the first place was that it was about a five-hour drive. Second I’m going to pick the other host hotel to see if my experience there is less frustrating than the hotel I got this year.