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sakurarosepetals

Convention Confusion

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Otakon 2012 will be my first con ever and i'm kind of lost on what to do?

Paying at the door is $75 correct? What does that include? What things do you need to pay for?

>.< I'm so confused!! I have no idea what to do when I get there?!

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28 answers to this question

Information about Registration/Pre-reg will go up as soon as it's ready. Traditionally, that's some time in Feb., so it ought to be soonish (no promises from me, though, as that's not my area of info!).

Registration (of any kind, pre-. at-door, and the various other memberships available to people like dealers) generally entails entrance to all Otakon-related events over the course of the weekend. This includes, but is not limited to, our exhibition halls, performances, video rooms, and panels, as well as the Otakon dance. It also includes a badge (which you'll need to get in to any of those places) and information about what will be available to do while you're there.

You'll pay, of course, for your own lodging and food, though there are several relatively tasty options inside the convention center. There are several excellent options in the harborplace and surrounding neighborhoods (though I can't in good conscience reccomend wandering far if you're new--or have a sense of direction anything like mine), and there are plenty of affordable options for the budget-minded otaku. Check the website for hotel info, but do it soon--if you wait much past pre-reg opening, you might end up in a cardboard box (and not just as Gundam cosplay).

It can definitely be a lot to take in your first time. I think my first Otakon, I went to the AMVs and MAT3K and thaat was it all weekend! I reccommend coming down Thursday for badge pickup (and the Matsuri!) and taking Thurs. night to look through your swag bag. I do this--and I generally attack mine with highlighters to balance my schedule between things that are vital (staff shifts, premieres) and things that are optional (buyin' stuff time, random shows I'd like to see). Either way, have fun!

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Some of my friends are Otakon veterans, and I've been getting advice from them. c: (Some is from my friends, some are from personal experience~)

1. Bring lots of water. (apparently there's some $1 dollar water guy. . .?) You don't want to get dehydrated, and I hear the Baltimore summers are intense. I always keep two water bottles with me. c:

2. Bring lots of cash. The ATM's run out of dollar bills, and many of the dealer's don't take credit cards. . . Also, in case of an emergency, you'll need it! Save all of your money! You don't want to only be able to afford one thing in the dealer's room. Hotels and badges themselves cost a fortune.

3. Pre-register and reserve hotel A.S.A.P.! I hear the Hilton's already fully booked! You'll also want to pre-register A.S.A.P, because you'll be saving at least $20 by registering when it goes up~

4. Dress lightly!! My friend's cosplay last year started /MELTING/ because of the heat. And plus, nobody likes a smelly otaku.

5. Get rest. You wouldn't want to be a zombie by Sunday, would you? (well, unless your cosplaying a zombie. . .)

6. Plan ahead! If you do this, you're more likely to see more things you want, rather than wandering around and wasting precious time.

7. Get there on Thursday! If you get your badge then, you won't have to wait in the supposed mile-long lines on Friday.

8. STAY IN A GROUP. In a crowd of 30,000+, you do /NOT/ want to get separated. On the off chance you do, I reccomend setting up a meeting place where everyone goes should they be separated. (like the hotel room or something. . .?)

9. Get to lines /EARLY/. Nobody wants to wait in the back of a line for four hours, and then whatever event you want to go to is full. . . So get towards the front by getting there early! (I learned this the hard way at my last con. . .)

10. For conventions, I usually bring lots of quick and easy meals to eat. Last time, I brought ramen, microwaveable dinners, lunchables, and other snacky foods. We ate at the hotel both nights for dinner, but that con wasn't /NEARLY/ as big as Otakon. They Hyatt's really big, but I'm sure the BCC is a lot bigger.

11. Bring a digital camera! I bought disposable cameras last time since my digital broke, and I ended up losing them. . . now I only have the ones on my phone. D;

12. Always have the map with you, and at easy access! I always bring a messenger bag to conventions; they're easy to take on and off when someone wants a photo of your cosplay. Also, there's tons of little compartments in those things. I always keep two water bottles, a few snacks, map, phone, iPod, emergency money, wallet, business cards I get from dealers, and /ALWAYS/ have a book that you can put autographs into. You never know who you'll see as you're walking around. c:

I highly reccomend a messenger bag, though~

There's a lot more, I'm sure, but that's all I can think of right now. I hope this helped! c:

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To add on as well as emphasize some points DestroyingStars mentions...

**Planning beforehand is the greatest tip ever. I personally tend to print out the schedule and cosplay photoshoot list (off of cosplay.com) a week to a few days beforehand just so I can see --relatively- what will be/occur where and whether or not anything in the line-up is a "MUST NOT MISS" event. Granted there are always a few last minute changes but it's better to go in with a rough idea of what you're going to do. <-------------- NOTE: besides the schedule you should also make a note(/keep in mind) beforehand of when the various rooms open and close.((by that I mean dealer room hour, artist room hours, etc.)) if you plan to visit those.

**You should keep the scedule and programming guide with you at all times during the con-DEFINITELY.....Not only to constantly refer to the schedule....but if this is your first time I almost gurantee you, you'll get lost in the BCC.

**If you have trouble/issues (or just plain forget) about carrying/bringing water into the con there should be water coolers in every room inside the BCC. You're on your own if you're waiting in line outside(or even inside), in the summer heat however.

**Do not underestimate how much cash you will need, especially if you're planning to check out the dealer's room at all. I personally "stipend" myself (so-to-speak). However it might not be a good idea to put all your money in the same spot either in case you lose that "bag" or get mugged (which is rare but could still happen just like anywhere else, you know?)

**Establish mode of transportation and/or whether or not you're staying in a hotel etc. AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. And make sure those plans are IN CONCRETE. The worse thing that could happen is that your "transportation plans" etc. fall through the day before etc. In this regard you should be sure to have a BACKUP PLAN if there IS a possibility that plans may break through.

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Now that Online Registration has opened (shh, its still a secret), I can address a point and answer a question.

Paying for your membership at the door will run you $80 this year, not $75 as it has in recent years.

The difference between the online registration rate and registration at the door follows the same $10 (not $20) split as the past several years. When I first started attending I believe that difference may have only been $5 To the best of my knowledge the difference has never, been greater than it is now - at least as long as I've been coming.

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You will need to pay for a pre-reg ticket (I would do that cause it saves you $10), travel expenses, hotel costs, food and drinks, anything extra that you wish to buy ei something in the dealers room. And that's just money. If you have your money sorted it won't be that hard to ask questions to the staff while you are there if you don't understand something.

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If you have a smartphone or iPod, find the "guidebook" app that will allow you to download the Otakon schedule.

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I think everyone has said all that needs to be said, pretty much. However, I'll add my two yen anyway. wink.png

1) You do not, repeat, DO NOT, have to stand in the pre-reg line for hours and hours. Just because some people do, you don't have to. In fact, the later you pop in to pre-reg in Thursday, the less time you'll spend. (I got in before 6PM on Thursday last year, dropped my stuff at the hotel, and was in and out of pre-reg in about 20 minutes(including the walk to the BCC).

2) Someone brought up bringing your own food. This is a very good idea, as most hotels should have microwaves and/or refrigerators. In fact, you could start figuring out what food you'd like to bring now, make a list, and get things piecemeal while they're on sale. If you DO, however, make sure that they're items with a long shelf life. -- some microwavable meals or soups, pudding or fruit or applesauce cups, trail mix, little packs of PB crackers, pop-tarts are good examples. And then when the con gets closer(say, within a week or less), pick up anything you'd put in a cooler or need to get fresh -- deli meats/cheeses, bread, fresh fruits/veggies, maybe milk or juice. And anything you forgot to get? Well, depending on what hotel you end up in, there's either a 7-11 or a CVS within a block or three.

3) Bring more cash than you think you'll need, and make sure you keep part of it separate from your con money. I mean, you never know if some emergency pops up, or you wanna go grab a bite from Noodles & Company or something.

4) if you have a con bag, you'll want to carry the following:

- a bottle of water. Summer in Baltimore. yeeeeeeeah. Even a bottle of soda would work; afterward, you could refill the empty bottle with water.

- something to snack on. Because you won't always make it back to your hotel for that microwavable cheese manicotti meal promptly.

- travel-size toothpaste & toothbrush(or even some breath spray). For when you need a fresh, clean mouth, and you don't have any of that gum the lady with the British accent keeps harping about on TV. wink.png

- travel-size deodorant. Stave off con funk!

- travel-size Febreze. see above. If you can find one of these, it. Is. A. GODSEND. If not make your own -- just get a little spray bottle, fill it with Febreze, ????, PROFIT.

- Any extra batteries for camera, cell phone charger, tablet charger, DS or PSP charger... you know, stuff to make sure you can either take pictures, keep in touch with people, or just not be bored in incredibly long lines.(also, any of the above said batteries/chargers/plugs go with.)

Um, I think that's all I have.

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So, since it's not letting me edit, I'll add the following:

4a)- Tylenol, Advil, or Aleve, or all three! Because you never know when you might have a headache or something else hurts.

5) Vitamin C. Even though it's summer, you'll be around 30,000+(!) people. You will likely get con crud if you're not careful. So be prepared, bring some vitamin C tablets/lozenges with you. Take... I guess double the recommended dose, to be sure. Drink a glass of OJ before heading to the con in the morning with breakfast, if you can. HYDRATE. No one can stress that enough.

6) Bring a bit more clothes than you think you'll need; it IS summer, it DOES get a bit hot, you WILL sweat. That extra t-shirt or two will be a blessing come Sunday afternoon.

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Hopefully, Otakon will approve my panel on con survival, because I hit all these points and more. >^_^<

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I dunno about "most" hotels having microwaves and fridges. The Sheraton City Center certainly doesn't, which is where we stayed last time, but the Days Inn does as does the Holiday Inn, I believe. Just... make sure you know beforehand. You can save yourself a ton of money that way; I ate so much canned ravioli last year XD But, obviously, those cans are going to be useless if you get to your room and have no way to heat them. (Unless you don't mind eating it cold from a can. My grandpa, God rest his incredibly cheap soul, used to take cans of pork and beans out fishing and eat them cold with a spoon right out of a can.)

I suppose, though, that falls in with just researching beforehand. Look at maps online, read up on your hotel amenities, don't be afraid to call the hotel if you have specific questions. One year I even used Google Street View to walk around the Inner Harbor a bit, which helped me figure out where some food places were I wanted to check out.

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Many of my suggestions have already been addressed, but I need to repeat this:

EAT, DRINK, and SLEEP. Not doing one or any of those things makes you feel like crap. Not doing one or any of those things coupled with long walks around a huge convention center and the Baltimore summer heat will make you feel like death warmed over, and it makes people irritable. Yes, it may be tempting to skip dinner so you can buy a figure in the dealers room, and it may be tempting to stay out until 5 AM, but do yourself a favor and stick to all three things. Bring snacks and water with you so you can eat something between major meals, and stick to a curfew of maybe 2 AM. That gives you PLENTY of time to see everything during the day and even chill at the dance for a while at night, and gives you enough time to rest so you can get up the next day.

Also, this is a given, but shower every day, and Febreeze or wash your costumes. Maybe even more than that. You will sweat and get smelly in the Baltimore heat. In 2010, I came back to my room twice on Friday and Saturday during downtime so I could relax for an hour or so, take a cold bath and wash up before going back out. It's really refreshing for you, and refreshing for everybody else who doesn't have to smell you.

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One other item that hasn't be touch if you take Meds for what every reason make sure you don't skip or miss your time that you take your meds. Also for your health and not to freakout your friends if you have a medical coundition make sure just incase that your friends know were you keep all of your medical info be it a necklace,braclet or something in your wallet. heaven forbid something happens but if it does know this information could be the difference between life and death.

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Another tip that i haven't seen on this list yet is to never carry too much. Many things bad can happen. Dropping stuff, breaking stuff, messing with the "flow" of the con, which can get you put out at times. Solution is, if you have a car or hotel, don't just put metal swords there, put everything in there and comeback if you're starting to become overloaded, if you don't have a car/room, buy small things on Friday/Saturday and if you stay for Sunday you can buy the larger things because a large majority of dealers have great deals on their items that haven't sold.

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Travel light as you can. Take this from a guy who just spent the last three weeks traveling in Japan, New Zealand, and Australia -- every pound you can do without makes you that much less tired at the end of the day, and leaves that much more space for loot. If you're flying, you can probably do Otakon on a decent carry-on plus a small backpack.

You probably don't NEED your laptop if you can manage with a smartphone or iPad. You don't need to bring entertainment for the hotel room -- you're going to be at the con, and then hopefully sleeping/eating/showering in your hotel. DO bring anything small and portable you might want guests to sign.

Dress in layers and bring extra t-shirts and undies. If you're not cosplaying, I suggest:

- 1 pair jeans

- 3 pair shorts

- 2 t-shirts per day

- at least 2 pair extra undies

- 3 short sleeve shirts and 1 long sleeve (or a lightweight hoodie)

- TWO pairs of comfy shoes; alternate them so that one pair can air out. switch whenever you can.

- at least two extra pairs of socks

- small travel umbrella (it almost ALWAYS rains at least once, usually pretty hard, and usually at an inconvenient time)

It's likely to be very hot, but you might find the BCC too cold, or we might get a weird cold snap (it's happened before). Hence the idea of layers -- if you start out with a t-shirt and a hawaiian shirt or camp shirt (my typical kit), you can always remove the outer layer if it becomes unbearable, and your inner shirt will soak up the sweat pretty well. Others swear by those moisture-wicking hiking clothes, but I personally can't wear anything that's got too much synthetic fiber.

If you plan to dance, bring TWO rave-suitable outfits, and bring trash bags to put them in once you've wrung out the sweat. I'm serious! It keeps the stench levels down for everyone, and it's healthier for you too. Plus, it's always good to bring a trash bag to put the nasty stinky stuff in. I usually put some Target plastic bags in there as well, and put my shoes in them before packing. Keeps any debris you pick up on your shoes from contaminating the rest of your stuff. (And if you have big feet like me, you can often get away with tieing your shoes to your carryon, because they're easily packed around in the overhead and doesn't prevent others from stowing their large carryons.)

You will have PLENTY to do at Otakon, and during the 6-7 hours per night that it's closed, you will be chatting with friends, eating, sleeping, etc. Do those things; don't waste your con time sitting in a hotel room watching the same crap you watch at home! Experience stuff you came here to experience.

If you carry a small bag around (bookbag, purse, man-bag, tote bag), it's very helpful. It's a place to keep your camera, a bottle of water, some snacks, a small travel umbrella, your con book, any small purchases, etc., and it's less likely to get left behind or mistaken for someone else's if it's a proper bag rather than some plastic bag that everyone at con is issued at Reg.

Invest in a decent water bottle that hooks to your belt or bag, and refill it for free throughout the day. You won't regret spending that $10.

I *always* carry a sharpie, a decent ballpoint pen, a small notepad, and a small moleskin journal with me. Print out some cheap business cards (even if they just have your name and email address) and carry those as well, so if you meet someone you can easily exchange info.

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Jim, if you can give me a cold snap this summer I will buy you many things. All the things.

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I have never brought anywhere near that many clothes XD I usually bring two pairs of pants and a single shirt for every day (not including cosplay). I don't think I get smelly... then again I also don't go to the rave.

I do like your point about not bringing a ton of stuff for the room. I have friends who insist on bringing game consoles, and I don't understand why they'd want to sit in the hotel playing fighting games when they can do that at home. I sometimes tuck Apples to Apples or something in my bag, but that's mostly for Thursday night when there isn't actual con going on. I'd much rather sit around a random area of the BCC and people-watch than sit in my room!

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I have never brought anywhere near that many clothes XD I usually bring two pairs of pants and a single shirt for every day (not including cosplay). I don't think I get smelly... then again I also don't go to the rave.

I tend to err on the side of caution -- but *always* bring an extra pair of undies, t-shirt, and socks.

However, I don't have the faintest idea why I said "2 t-shirts per day". Should have been 1 per day plus 1-2 backup.

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I wondered about that! Having a spare is never a bad thing, but I would certainly never EXPECT to change my shirt halfway through every day!

...I also seem to only remember to bring an umbrella on sunny days.

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Umbrellas aren't there to keep you dry by bouncing the raindrops away from you.

They are Talismans of Weather Aversion. They actually give you 50% chance to cause a storm to change course once per day. (You can only benefit from one umbrella at any time.)

I have proven this repeatedly, as the tiny army of umbrellas I own will attest. When I was in Sydney last week, they'd forecast rain and of course I'd left my umbrella home. I walked out into the street after dinner, it was cats and dogs out there, but *literally* the minute I stepped on the pavement after buying an overpriced umbrella from a convenience store, it not only stopped raining, but the next three days were sunny and gorgeous. I can only assume I rolled a crit. :)

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How long does paying at the door usually take? We didn't pre-reg in time that you save $10, so we wanted to pay at the door?

Also, we made reservations for our hotel, but it says there are no reservations for us, but we got a confirmation e-mail? We made the reservation for 4 people, but my sisters friend is also coming so can we add another person?

Thanks~biggrin.png

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Also, we made reservations for our hotel, but it says there are no reservations for us, but we got a confirmation e-mail? We made the reservation for 4 people, but my sisters friend is also coming so can we add another person?
Today is the day that the reservations are suppossedly in the process to be trasferred from passkey to the hotels so give it a day before you double-check again....

Though as long as you get a confirmation e-mail...the hotels should honor the reservation...

As for the adding another person bit.... some hotels will vary on whether or not they'll charge more for another person or not so you should also check with your hotel about their policy with that....

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How long does paying at the door usually take? We didn't pre-reg in time that you save $10, so we wanted to pay at the door?

Also, we made reservations for our hotel, but it says there are no reservations for us, but we got a confirmation e-mail? We made the reservation for 4 people, but my sisters friend is also coming so can we add another person?

Thanks~biggrin.png

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One thing I haven't seen mentioned yet if to account for Parking costs if you're driving. If you're arriving Thurs and leaving Sun You could end up paying between $50 to $90. I suggest using http://en.parkopedia.com/ to find lots and their rates near your hotel.

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Our reservation is confirmed on the Otakon website, but not on the hotels website. My mom is worried we won't be able to go because we won't have a hotel room?

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Our reservation is confirmed on the Otakon website, but not on the hotels website. My mom is worried we won't be able to go because we won't have a hotel room?

That was the same with me... but I called the hotel directly and they had us in their system.....so you could try calling too.

Worst comes to worse if you print out the confirmation from passkey (ie: the system you used via the Otakon site) the hotel should honor it......

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Our reservation is confirmed on the Otakon website, but not on the hotels website. My mom is worried we won't be able to go because we won't have a hotel room?

That was the same with me... but I called the hotel directly and they had us in their system.....so you could try calling too.

Worst comes to worse if you print out the confirmation from passkey (ie: the system you used via the Otakon site) the hotel should honor it......

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Yeah, I wouldn't worry about anything regarding your reservation between Passkey and the actual hotel. If it's made through the reservation system then they're pretty much obligated to honor it.

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