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August 2022 Update: I’ve noticed a lot of recent views so just want to state a few things. 1) This was written pre-pandemic so there might be some change of what you can expect. 2) I haven’t been to Fan Expo in a little while now and I probably won’t ever go back. I have added an updated section to explain this at the bottom of this post.
In honour of Fan Expo’s 25th-anniversary already underway I decided to release and put together the footage I had from last year. Check below for two-parts of the vlog, but check below for 5 essential tips and things you should do if you are attending the convention.
5. Photo Ops & Selfies/Autographs
Photo-ops are arguably the biggest aspect of the convention attendees look forward to or drawn to. It’s an awesome time to briefly meet your favorite celebrities in popular culture, maybe have some good conversations, while taking a high image quality with your favourite celebrities. This is a throwback but really one of the best photos I have taken. Since these guys were high in demand they did have to speed up the process but fortunately, all of them were super nice and cool so they didn’t rush us off and made sure we were good. If you plan on taking a picture for tomorrow or Sunday, check out the options here: https://store.epicphotoops.com/fan-expo-canada/2019
NOTE: PhotoOps tickets are separate from the admission into the convention.
TIP: Signup for FanExpo emails so you can get notified as soon as photo ops are available, the earlier the group the better. Being in group 1 allows you to get your photo op sooner so you can catch other stuff going on in the program. Be prepared for delays and crowds, so always try to get to your photo op area 15-30 mins ahead of time, to assess the crowd and also secure an earlier spot.
TIP: With respect to general ticket admissions, VIP gets the most perks that can be applied to another FanExpo throughout the year, but it is super expensive and often sold out. Premium is the next best thing if you are doing for the full four days.
This leads to the second part, their autograph (maybe selfie) booths. I say maybe because the celebrities will always have a table (unless stated before) for autographs and sometimes they offer selfies. Mind you this is money and it does vary depending on the person. From what I noticed, the celebrity is pretty lenient but the agents are often stubborn on prices and interactions. If you don’t have anything to get signed they often have prints available for you to purchase at a low cost or if you did a photo-op you can also get that signed. Here’s a pic from one of the best engagements I had at FanExpo. Jason Momoa was not feeling well but still wanted to do some autographs before he caught his flight. I remember during the photo-op he was so happy to see me wearing a shirt he was promoted to raise awareness for the protest to protect Mauna Kea he practically lifted me up when he hugged me. When I came back to get the picture signed, he was genuinely moved and so happy. I saw his face change from tired to excited and he proceeded to write an autograph in his native language which was so amazing because of how proud he was to share his culture and explain what it meant.
TIP: Like photo ops, arrive earlier to the scheduled time. Also, ask the fan expo volunteers for the timing so you can note it down if you have a schedule conflict or you would rather come at a more convenient time.
Speaking of having good conversations and getting to know more about your favourite artists, shows or whatever it may be, the questions and answers panels are a great way to do just that. You can check couple of my old Instagram posts (pre multiple vids/pics era so it’s in collage format) where you can see some highlights of past q&a. You can see the above vlog for some of the q&a footage for both the Degrassi Next Generation Reunion & for Emma Dumont.
TIP: Line up early, not too early but maybe half an hour. Depending on the person there can be extreme line ups that go across the building. I do suggest you get food so you can eat it while waiting in line.
3. Brand Activations
Whenever people saw me at FanExpo they often think it’s ComicCon. Although Toronto ComicCon is in March, this event is much bigger and brings people all over Canada and even from the states (I’ve seen a lot of people from New York come up). Therefore, with such a massive event and reach you will see tons of different brands setting up cool booths to promote their product, services, shows and more. There have been really interesting setups in the past from launching Star Trek discovery and having a laser tag activation to Thor Ragnorok displaying the costumes to even having a haunted school bus experience for the horror film “IT”. As you can see above, these were some of the cool activations from last year (Disney’s Ralph Breaks The Internet, Dragon Ball Super & DC Comics).
TIP: If you have the time and are going for the full four days then definitely check everything out on Thursday, the first day. The sooner you check it out, the better. If not, make sure you give yourself enough time because most of the spots are located in the South building. More than likely these activations will be there for the full four days, but you can always ask one of the brand ambassadors hired if they are doing any promotions or contests in the meantime so you don’t miss out.
Check out the video above if you haven’t done so already. Here I recap some of the best things I got at Fan Expo last year, free and for purchase. You can get all the details and information by checking out my post here.
There’s going to be a lot of vendors at FanExpo and like the attendees, they come from all over Canada. You can find super rare items whether it be nostalgia, rare comics, crafts, clothing and so much more. There are some things you can get in the North Building but the majority of vendors will be at Hall E in the south building.
TIP: If it’s limited or rare, get it as soon as possible. If not, usually Sunday is home to the big sales and markdowns. Checkout EB Games booth as they have a lot of giveaways and sales.
1. Artist Alley
Left to right: Scott Snyder, Steve McNiven, Jeff Lemire & Marco D’Alfonso
Speaking of Hall E, it is home to one of the best things of FanExpo, Artist Alley. Whether you are into comics or not, you need to check this out as it extends from key people that contribute to comics (writers, artists, illustrators, pencilers, etc.) such as the guys you see above to all-around amazing artists. These artists range from illustrators to foiled art (I met Thomas last year who was super cool), wooden art to so many more different canvases.
It’s something to definitely check out as I got to meet and have super long conversations with Marco & Beddo who are awesome and are continuously doing big things in their career. You never know who you are going to meet and the cool things you will get.
TIP: It will be super crowded so give yourself a couple of hours per day if you are not getting things signed or purchased in the first 2 days.
Why I Probably won’t be going back to Fan Expo Canada
This is something I was debating doing but I felt that since there are a lot of people going to Fan Expo for the first time, it’s good to give a heads up on what might be the “negative” aspects of the convention. First, it’s very transactional. It makes sense, it’s a business and they won’t be able to host events like this without it. Photo-ops, autographs, tickets, etc. they all cost money and add up. Sure you might be able to have some good conversations with your favourite actors, writers, and illustrations but it does come at a price which can also dampen the experience when reflecting on it. At the end of the day, it’s kind of how life is but I don’t want anyone to go in with really high expectations and get crushed when they experience something like that.
The other thing I want to give a heads up on is that a few staff and volunteers are terrible. I want to stress the fact that I am saying a few because there are some volunteers that are absolutely incredible and probably one of the nicest people you will ever meet. Unfortunately, not all staff and volunteers are like that and sometimes get into a power trip. They can be a little rude, there might be some people who treat others differently based on appearance, and I know one year one staff literally pulled my bag strap from the back where I almost fell down to the ground and could’ve injured my neck because I was meeting with my sister who was already in line for the photo-op. It was one of those moments where I just couldn’t believe it and took a minute to process it, especially because I had to smile for a photo op I barely even remember. It’s things like that reminded me that at the end of the day there are people in this convention that can misuse power and make your day worse. I know Joe Quinn denies mistreatment from London Comic Con staff but I am not surprised if that’s not the reality of it. However, at the end of the day, people are people, and some are shitty and some are incredible so hopefully you can find a way to make the best of the situation.
Let me know what you think in the comments below. I hope you can appreciate these tips and my honesty and if you do plan on going, please try to be positive but also open minded. It can be a lot, especially with the many people of attendance but at the root of it, they are there for the same reason as you.. to celebrate fandom.
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