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Things you miss from Otakon in Baltimore


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I was just going through some of my old Otakon pix, and as I was looking at some of the ones taken on the outdoor terrace at the BCC it made me realize how much I missed it. There's no real spot in the WEWCC to just go outside and take pictures of cosplayers, or even just spend a few minutes enjoying the weather while still staying inside the convention center.

With that in mind, I started to think about other things that I liked when Otakon was in Baltimore - places to go, things to do, etc. A short list off the top of my head (in no particular order):

- The aforementioned terraces

- The book shop on Light Street (The Book Escape? - Google maps has a picture of it on Light, but a search puts it on Charles). I used to go up there on Thursday just to browse through and pick up something new to read.

- Cafe 100's breakfast buffet. It was a tradition for my brother and I to hit there Friday morning to fuel up before getting ready to stand in line. ūüėÜ Admittedly, staying at the Hampton this year is kind of the equivalent (and free!), but going to Cafe 100 for that many years is something I miss.

- Harborplace when it had a food court. The first several years in Baltimore I would take the Skywalk across to Harborplace and you were spoiled for choice for a meal there. The WEWCC has some decent places (I really liked the Moroccan(?) chicken meal I picked up last year.), but Harborplace in the early days put DC to shame. I also include the food court on the 3rd(?) floor of the building acros...Pratt(?) (the one w/ the Godiva on the ground floor), as that was a good backup for when Harborplace was too busy or later when the pickings got slim. (I don't know if I ever ate at the Burger King when it was in Building 100, as the lines went out the door. I swear the one year it was faster to walk a couple of blocks to the McDonalds and get something than to wait for the BK. Amusing side note: One of the staffers had a great story about the reaction of one the Burger King managers when they saw him come in to warn them that Otakon was coming in a couple of weeks so they should order more food for that weekend.)

- The Skywalks themselves. I know by the end a lot of them were gone, but it was great to be able to go several blocks without having to wait for the lights to allow you to cross. I'd love it if DC had them, but I'm sure that they would be both economically nonviable and aesthetically unpleasant for a 'tourist city'.

= Driving up Route 1 on a sunny summer day. Yes, Amtrak is faster and possibly cheaper than driving (depending on how much hotel parking costs and what kind of seats you're getting for the train - coach vs. business), but taking Route 1 North was just such a great drive since the weather cooperated every year I drove. (I took 95 North the first year I drove. I never took it after that. I'm not a fan of Stop and Stop traffic.)

So, any other veterans have stuff you miss? Hard to believe it's been 8 years already.

 

 

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Barnes and Noble. They had tons of great magazines (all gone now). When the convention hit some dead spots in my schedule, I could go there to look around. They closed that B&N store too. Don't think DC has any book shops, last time I looked.

I also liked walking by the big fountain. You would see all the photographers and cosplayers there, also the idiots jumping among the concrete pedestals. Wonder how many of them got injured?

 

Funny enough, one of my former coworkers lived in Baltimore during Otakon's early years. He worked at the Days Inn and I am pretty sure he was there when we were attending Otakon. Vaguely remember interacting with him.

Edited by Clutch
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Funny how some things stand out, a couple of those are things that really stuck with me.

 

  • The outdoor terrace, especially before it was remodeled and they removed most of the seating. I especially liked the terrace at night. The warm air, the calm (from both the convention and street level noise); It was a very pleasant place to stop for 15 minutes. The con staff always tried to keep people from sitting on those big polished railings saying it was setting off security alarms in the BCC, which I'm not sure I bought (I'd guess it was a safety thing, worrying someone would fall over).
  • I used to do Cafe 100 Saturday morning before everything got going (and Sunday morning sometimes too). I liked that I could a complete meal before the con day started (meat, fruit, grains, etc.) as opposed to the greasy convention center and fast food fare most of the rest of the day. Buying breakfast by the pound!¬† Pic of Cafe 100 during the con
  • I liked that once you figured out the BCC, it was actually pretty easy to get through. You could usually go to the street level of the BCC to avoid crowds. The BCC and hotel skybridges always backed up but you could usually duck outside and just walk up a block or two and go back in much quicker. WEWCC's got a bad chokepoint on that main floor in front of the game room and there's no getting around it.
  • I liked those cavernous lower level halls. No special reason, they just had a lot of character.
  • I liked that Otakon felt like a part of the city when it was going on. The stores, hotels, and restaurants had special signs and discounts, the locals were down there to people watch or hock their wares. In DC, it still feels like we're just temporary interlopers.
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On 6/8/2024 at 7:46 PM, Revan said:

= Driving up Route 1 on a sunny summer day. Yes, Amtrak is faster and possibly cheaper than driving (depending on how much hotel parking costs and what kind of seats you're getting for the train - coach vs. business), but taking Route 1 North was just such a great drive since the weather cooperated every year I drove. (I took 95 North the first year I drove. I never took it after that. I'm not a fan of Stop and Stop traffic.)

 

 

Route 1 is still a travel option for any con goer.  Otherwise known as Bladensburg Rd.  You can pick it up near the National Arboretum.  Highly recommend a visit.  
 

Another highlight of Route 1 is Conowingo Dam and fisherman's park.  An excellent location to observe Bald Eagles.  The late November period is popular and the Spring Shad run is popular.  

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Definitely miss the fact that it was in my hometown. That made it way cheaper for me to attend the con (no hotel, no parking garage necessary; just a day pass for the subway and a little spending money for the weekend).

 

I also miss the fountains which were a good place for photoshoots and a place to cool off (if you were willing to dip your feet/hands in)

 

I also miss the Ice Cold Water Man. Apparently he's still on the grind and his water is still only $1. This update is from a year ago but it's the most recent update I've found in case anyone was wondering what happened to him:

 

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Thought I'd miss the Inner Harbor with all the awesome things that are there.  But now, I actually don't miss it too much, since the WEWCC has the metro right there which makes it so much easier to travel and visit tons of different places.

 

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The USS Constellation was such a great photo op especially for naval or Pirate themed anime/games.  The Inner Harbor was nice in that you could leave the BCC, get a bite to eat and visit some of the local hot spots. I feel like in DC you're basically tethered to the WEWCC all weekend although I do like that there are so many food options within the con itself.  The BCC was so outdated in that regard. I remember them haphazardly setting up a meatball sub bar on the second floor of the Camden Yards side of the BCC in one of the later years. 

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Actually, there was only 2 things that I missed Otakon being in Baltimore.

1- I used to enjoy being at the Inner Harbor and staying around until Monday morning because I used to hang around with friends post-convention time (shopping at the mall, eating at the food court, playing video games and watching the Anime that we bought at the con in our room). At least I didn't have to drive home tired right after the con.

That started to change when less and less people that I know were showing up to the con, and the mall was becoming an empty shell of itself as the years gone by. I was already questioning myself why I'm even staying an extra night.

 

2- At Baltimore, I used to take Route 83 and go straight to York Pennsylvania to visit family then I go home to NYC from there.

 

I don't drive to Otakon anymore. I take Amtrak instead. It's cheaper to go that way when you reserve your ride well in advance (when I'm going alone).

 

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21 minutes ago, Daniel Perales said:

I don't drive to Otakon anymore. I take Amtrak instead. It's cheaper to go that way when you reserve your ride well in advance (when I'm going alone).

 

I'm incredibly jealous of people who have Amtrak in their area. I live at the VA/TN border where we barely have any public transit at all (like a few of those short busses in a limited area since it's really rural most places here). There's been talk for years of expanding Amtrak through VA down to TN, but at this rate if it ever happens I'll likely be an old man by then. We did get a bus line though called Virginia Breeze that runs from Bristol, VA, where I'm at, all the way to Washington, DC, but it leaves Bristol at 11am every day and takes about 7 1/2 hours to get to DC. I think it leaves DC a bit early in the day, too, and costs about $120 per person round trip, so we've never thought about using it.

 

As for things I miss from Baltimore, I really miss the Inner Harbor area. I miss that mall and its food court, the performers by the harbor, some of the restaurants and the book store at the harbor, and just being so familiar with the area itself. My friends and I started going to Otakon in 2011 and have only missed one year since (2021), but no matter how long we've been going to DC, it's still a bit hard for me to remember where everything is. I never had that issue with Baltimore. It's the same way with the convention centers, too. I can still perfectly picture in my mind what the BCC looked like inside and out and where all the different rooms were. At this point, I've got a basic layout in my head of the WEWCC, but I can still get turned around the wrong way easily.

Edited by TomDent
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There are some people I miss from Baltimore; the staff at the Days Inn was always friendly and helpful for me and my family. They watched our kid go to her first Otakon at a whole one year old.

The Wharf Rat was also our spot.

 

If I'm being honest . . . that might be it.

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22 hours ago, Revengel said:

There are some people I miss from Baltimore; the staff at the Days Inn was always friendly and helpful for me and my family. They watched our kid go to her first Otakon at a whole one year old.

The Wharf Rat was also our spot.

 

If I'm being honest . . . that might be it.

I miss the staff at the Day's Inn as well. They really helped me out big time when one of the other "Otakon" hotels actually canceled my reservation just a few days away from the con.

 

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The Inner Harbor, was always fun to walk there in the evenings and afternoon when the sun went down a bit. I miss the skyline and seeing the neon Rusty Scupper sign.

Honestly I miss everything about Otakon in Baltimore EXCEPT for the crowding inside the BCC.

Edited by windseeker
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