I have been waiting for this thread!!! Given my history w/ Otakon - my second longest annual pilgrimage - I feel I have some views to offer.
Room at the convention. Room to breathe, room to walk, room to take pictures without jamming up the place, room to check your map, just . . . room. Otakon felt like there were a ton of people but not crowded. Hard to strike that balance.
Digital signage. This was one of the most useful and – perhaps – underappreciated aspects of moving to a modern convention center. From the big digital board by the main entrance to the smaller boards which had the schedule – and a marker showing the current time – digital signage was a major plus.
Information Abundance. Between the Ota-staff with the “Information” flags walking about the WEWCC and the Center staff at the information desks, all the ones we dealt with were very helpful. When I couldn’t find a room (for the BGC 30th Anniversary panel) it was very easy to find a staff member and get general directions.
Dealer’s Room. OMGWTFBBQ. Best. Dealers. Room. EVAR. Well, not quite. There were selections I hadn’t seen before at Otakon, but that will vary greatly from attendee to attendee as to what they like. But why I rate this so highly is because of the following:
Tons of room. I could spin in a circle and not hit anyone. And I have long arms.
Food Options. Several, and they were busy without huge lines (when we went) and the options somewhat varied.
Places to sit. I cannot overstate this. The value of being able to sit down and eat while in the dealers room made it a much better experience.
Video Screens. More crisp than I remember from last year. The chairs were more comfortable as well.
Light. Another underappreciated aspect of many conventions. Natural light. While it was brightest in the area outside the video game room, natural light was everywhere that wasn’t the dealers room or artist alley.
Guidebook Updates. I really appreciated getting a “ping” from my phone with updates for time changes and (sadly) cancelled events. The Hey feature I thought was great and I loved the fact you could tag a location on the artist alley map with the artist you wanted to see.
Ease of movement between hotel and WEWCC. Once past bag check I never had an issue moving between the two. The Otamuseum was a priority for me on Sunday and there was a panel in the WEWCC I wanted to attend as well, and moving between the two was no problem. It wasn’t a problem at any time during the convention. The layout of the hotel is different from the CC so it wasn’t as roomy, but bouncing between Ota-Chan and the Matsuri fairly often was not a problem at all.
Bathrooms. Either we got cleaner or they were cleaned fairly often. I’m not suggesting they were spotless or anything, but they were better than the ones I’ve used at the MCI/Verizon/Capital One SportsBox.
THURSDAY PRE REG PICKUP. ALL CAPS NEEDED. I have never, nor will ever have a shorter line than what I had Thursday night. Mailing badges made a HUGE difference; needing a child badge for our collective a mail in option won’t work for me. But that was AMAZEBALLS!!!
Improvement of the Bag Check. As the convention went along it seemed the lines got shorter. Otakon posted the bag checks were going to be cursory – this was not a TSA check to be sure – but after the first morning whatever adjustments Otakon/WEWCC staff made began to pay off. I also suspect part of that was registration/pickup was reduced after that time as well, and that likely contributed to the shorter bag check line.
Photo suite. Used it for the second time personally, and it was the first group shot I was a part of. Well organized, relaxing and a good area. Photographer was nice and worked with us . . . but I do have a bit later on about that.
Action Figure Box. I don’t recall seeing this before, but it was both a great idea and a great location! Big props for this.
Hotels and Area Restaurants. Won’t get into detail here, but I loved both of these things. My Hotel feedback is in the appropriate thread and the businesses in the area were good with us!
Cancellations. It felt to a few in our group there were more cancellations this year. Granted, that’s likely just a perception. In the past there were no digital signs to post this information and Guidebook felt like it was updated more frequently than before, so perhaps the cancellations were the same as previous years.
A few empty spots in the dealers room. I felt bad for the vendors who were shoved all the way to the right – especially Crimson Chain – because there were tons of empty booths. On Sunday there were vendors who moved to where the others were to increase foot traffic. Does the option exist for vendors who show up to have the option to move Friday night before Saturday if other vendors haven’t shown up or there are other empty booths available?
Fuzzy pictures are fuzzy. We got hi-res pictures and they looked ok on the screen when the group was choosing what pictures to get – we wound up getting them all – but when I looked at them on a computer and selected “actual size” I saw the pictures were actually out of focus on several of the pictures. There was one of our group who didn’t wear any black, and those pictures were fine. However the others, including the group shots, were out of focus when viewed actual size. This wasn’t pixilation, this was out of focus. And we can’ go back and re-pose. In hindsight it makes me question if *for my group* the hi-res photos are even worth it. If Otakon would like to reach out to me directly I can provide the information needed if you want to do any follow up.
Bag Check Line on Friday Morning. Ok, you knew this was coming. I referenced it before but had to acknowledge it here. But it did improve and Otakon only had 2 weeks to prepare. Perhaps a change in entry times vs. when the first panel begins will be one of the solutions for next year.
TL;DR version: More Newer is Better, More Room is More Better, More info is More Gooder; Long lines is Much Bad, Fuzzy Photos = Sad Panda.
Otakon has moved a total of four times. The move from Penn State to Hunt Valley I missed; I’ve been part of every other venue change. As a result, I feel those of us who’ve been through a move have a different perspective than those who haven’t . . . and specifically with Otakon moving.
This is the best move of the three I’ve experienced, but it’s been a looooong time since the last move.
Well done, Otakon.