Con Visiting 101

Like most first times, your first time visiting a convention can be quite a special and somewhat overwhelming experience. There’s so much to see, so much to keep in mind and in the end you end up overthinking. Whether you’re new to visiting conventions or a veteran this page is filled to the brim with solid advice on pretty much everything related to visiting conventions.

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Pre-con preparations

  • The early bird catches the worm: Most conventions offer a discount to those who buy their ticket way in advance and charge extra for tickets sold at the door. Hotels often have a similar thing going on with rooms that are booked way in advance being cheaper than one booked two months before the con. So if you want to save yourself some money, book your tickets and room in advance. Speaking of hotels…
  • You don’t need a fancy hotel room: The only time you will spend in your hotel room is likely going to be while you’re asleep, showering and getting dressed. So ask yourself, do you really need a fancy room when you’re only going to be there awake for an hour a day? Probably not. However staying in a hotel near the convention is pretty handy as it means you won’t have to rely on the bag room, dressing rooms and can just walk back any time you like.
  • Cosplaying? Read the con rules: Each con has it’s own rules regarding costumes and props and the last thing you want is to be told you can’t bring in your fancy P-08 Luger replica for your Max the Lugermorph cosplay. Generally speaking everything made out of metal, items with sharp edges and (replica) weapons are banned items. Not sure if you can bring something in? Send the con a message with a clear picture to be sure.
  • Packing your bags 101: Grab everything you think you need, now remove half of it. Trust me, you don’t need three or four pairs of shoes, jeans and shirts. Besides even if you do forget something there’s always an Albert Heijn nearby.
  • Money makes the world go round: Despite it being the 21st century, not all dealers and workshops accept pin transactions. Be smart, bring some cash with you and don’t expect any ATM near the con to have any money left in it.
  • Don’t forget your tickets: Print them out, and just to be safe pin or star them in your email app so you can easliy pull your ticket up in line if you do end up forgetting them. Also don’t just blindly expect all cons to be fine with flashing the screen on your phone.
  • Schedules are cool: Check them beforehand and mark down any event you’re interested in so you won’t miss out on them. Protip: your phone has an agenda in it, use it!

Traveling to and from the con

  • Avoid con rush hour, especially with public transport: As you can expect busses and trams tend to be way overcrowded around the opening and closing of a con. The worst is definitely the traffic to the con, and once you do arrive you get to wait in a long line for your badge, armband or stamp. My advice, arrive a few hours late and skip the long lines at the opening. It’s not like there’s anything to do around opening anyway. As for the journey back home, leaving during or before the closing ceremony means not having to get crushed by tons of smelly weebs and all their baggage.
  • NS day tickets and other discounts: There’s pretty much always a special offer going on for NS day tickets, and Goedkope Treinkaartjes keeps a list of all current deals. Alternatively you can opt for a NS Groepsretour, although only if you’re actually travelling together with said group. Finally anyone with a NS abbonement is allowed to take 4 people with them with the 40% discount which is still better than nothing.
  • Bicycles are always an option: If you’re not cosplaying, or okay with using con dressing rooms, using a bicycle instead of public transport is a valid and rather relaxed option. You won’t even have to bring your own bike as you can rent an OV Fiets at pretty much every major station.
  • Cars? Yes cars! The only advice I have for car owners is to check your parking options and especially their opening hours beforehand. Trust me, standing at a parking garage at 2am with the gates locked isn’t exactly fun.

At the con

  • Hydration is key: While at a convention you may find yourself busy non-stop. This makes it extremely easy for you to end up dehydrated, especially when combined with hot weather. Combating this is easy, just bring a water bottle with you or buy one at the con and refill it every time you use the toilet.
  • We need food! While you can definitely buy food at a con, don’t forget to check out local restaurants as well. If all else fails pizza joints deliver pretty much everywhere, so don’t be afraid to put in an order if you’re getting tired of con food.
  • The waiting game: You can expect to wait in a long line before major events, and its not all that uncommon for them to start late either. Either be patient, or if you don’t mind having bad seats, enter major events such as cosplay and AMV competitions late.
  • No bags allowed: Several events and rooms will not allow you to bring in any bags whatsoever. It’s wise to know this beforehand and there’s a section below about the best times to visit the bag room as well as other bag room advice.
  • Smelly McSmelface: Use deodorant and bring it with you. You’ll be walking around a lot, find yourself in hot rooms and sweating like crazy. And no, deodorant is not a proper replacement for taking an actual shower you filthy weeb!
  • Costume SOS: In case your costume or prop gets damaged don’t panic, nearly every con has a cosplay repair point.
  • Captain, there be bootlegs on the starboard bow! Always be on the lookout for dealers selling cheap Chinese knock-offs also known as bootlegs. While  respectable cons do their best to combat this practice, there is always a chance of a dealer getting away with it. If you don’t trust it, don’t buy it and if you’re sure an item is a bootleg make sure to report it to a staff member immediately.
  • Gophers, stewards and staff members are only human: Seriously, treat these people with some respect and don’t get mad at them for doing their job. They are the ones who make that con you love so much happen, without them there would be no con for you to visit.
  • Everyone owes OP a beer: Coffee is fine too. Black, no sugar.

Bag room

  • Special needs: If you’ve got an allergy or are required to take medications you might be able to get a bag permit allowing you to bring a (small) bag with you everywhere. Ask the convention in advance to see if you can get one or not.
  • Multiple items: When picking up multiple items hand them over tickets/numbers in rising order. It’s easier to remember preventing mistakes and also speeds things up a bit.
  • Lost (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42): If you lose your bag ticket/number don’t expect them to look for it during rush hours. Wait until things have quieted down a nod and make sure you leave something unique in your bag or coat so you can actually proof it’s yours. It also helps to take a picture of your bag ticket/number just in case.
  • Busy hours, quiet hours: With so many people relaying on the bag room to look after their bags and coats, it’s no wonder things can be quite busy. Here are the best and worse times to visit the bag room based on my experience with conventions:
    • Worst times (expect long frustrating waits):
      • Right after the con opens, and the early mornings when the day tickets holders line up. They will drop their coats and bags right away or after changing into their cosplays.
      • Before and after any major event. Major events typically don’t allow people to bring bags, and as such everybody rushes to the bag room to dump their stuff.
      • Dinner time. Nto everybody eats at the con and a some of day ticket holders tend to leave around dinner.
      • All day on the last day. Prepare yourself for flocks of people dumping their luggage, purchases and props at the bag room, followed by an entire con picking it up after the closing ceremony. Protip: some hotels allow you to leave your luggage after checkout for later pickup free of charge.
    • Best times (little to no wait time):
      • During major events. Gee, who would had thought?
      • All evening and night (if 24 hour con). Again, who would had thought?

After the con

  • The struggle is real: A lot of people find conventions to be fun, but also emotionally draining. As such many experience what is known as “post-con depression”, the remedy to which is take some rest and just sit it out.
  • Feedback is golden: Respectable cons value feedback and some will even actively approach visitors afterwards to fill in a survey. Any feedback they get is used to improve the next edition of a convention, which in the end is what everybody wants. So if you’ve got something on your mind, both good or bad, don’t be afraid to let it out.
  • Share: Don’t forget to share stories and pictures on /cgl/.