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Colossalcon 2023 Water Park Anime Convention

Sun, Fun, Swimsuits and more
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After experiencing a significant drop in attendance due to the pandemic, Colossalcon looks to be back on track. Attendance for the 2023 convention was the highest since 2019 and it follows a promising trend of growth. Pandemic concerns are in the past and convention attendance in general is booming. It’s a good time to be Colossalcon.
Colossalcon is big enough to have a variety of events and panels, and a good-sized vendor hall and artist alley. It’s small enough that you can do all the things you want to do without waiting in long lines. When you want to break away from the convention you have an entire water park resort to play in. There are entertaining concerts, gaming, late night swims, and an otaku flea market where you can sell your used weeb merch.
The general vibe of Colossalcon is fun and relaxed. This is a water park resort in the middle of nowhere (sorry Sandusky 😅) so there’s nothing else to do but relax. If you want to spend all day in the pools, you totally can. Otherwise you can find all of the common anime convention events in the convention center. I’m not ashamed to say I didn’t set foot there until Sunday when I quickly walked through the vendor hall and artist alley. I was content to be outside filming cosplayers for my cosplay music video. It’s my favorite way to spend a convention weekend.

Lingering Effects of the Bug

The pandemic hit every convention, but some felt the impact more than others. With the cancellation of Colossalcon 2020, the Sandusky, Ohio based anime convention suffered a dramatic loss of attendees for the 2021 convention. The once crowded pools at the Kalahari water park resort were sparsely populated and there was a sense of uncertainty as new coronavirus variants popped up. Ohio had just lifted mask mandates and people were still uncomfortable being maskless in large groups. This had a direct effect on attendance.
Attendance improved for the 2022 convention, but it was still just a fraction of 2019 when 20,000+ people filled the resort. Colosslacon 2019 felt like it had twice as many people as this year, if that’s even possible. Even at current numbers, estimated to be around 15,000, the Kalahari resort was sold out. I honestly don’t know where people found a place to stay in 2019.
Truly the pandemic hit Colossalcon hard, but it doesn’t tell the entire story. As challenging as the pandemic was for Colossalcon, it might not be entirely responsible for the lower attendance. Nostalgiaconventions.com LLC, the company behind Colossalcon, launched new Colossalcon events in other locations, effectively dividing their audience. Colossalcon East in Pennsylvania started in 2017, Colossalcon Texas in Round Rock, TX in 2021, and Colossalcon North in Wisconsin Dells, WI in 2022. This gave attendees options as to which event they want to attend and it most certainly has led to a shift in attendance at Colossalcon. When added together, attendance at Colossalcon events has never been higher. Individually though, each event is smaller than Colossalcon was at its height.
Besides new events dividing attendance, poor attendee experiences and negative encounters with staff members have given the con a bad reputation, putting off some people from attending. There are many posts on social media calling out staff members and listing offenses. This has a spillover effect of discouraging others from attending, either out of respect to the victims or from fear of being canceled or called out. The cosplay community can be vicious in this regard.

No Better Time to Attend

The lower attendance is honestly a good thing for attendees and you could say the con is at the ideal size. Crowding is down significantly, so there are less lines and better opportunities to see and do things. There are just as many vendors and artists and panels, so there’s no loss there. There should be less people vying for hotel rooms when the room block opens. It will still sell out within minutes, but at least your chances of getting a room are better. The parking lot is still full and you may have to park out in the grassy fields, but imagine how much worse it was when there were a lot more people. This is possibly the best time to be attending Colossalcon.
It’s impossible to say whether Colossalcon will ever regain the attendees it had pre-pandemic. While some conventions have had a post-pandemic resurgence and have tallied record attendance, others have shrunk and not recovered, or even gone out of business entirely. Some people have moved on from Colossalcon for various reasons, or from the anime convention scene in general. While the anime industry in America as a whole is growing, that doesn’t automatically translate into more attendees at anime conventions. There is a more nuanced effect on conventions which may not follow trends.
With three other Colossalcons, they were bound to steal some of the attendees away from Colossalcon “Prime”. Prime isn’t the official name, but it’s a good naming utility to distinguish it from the other events. Colossalcon East in Pennsylvania is the easternmost convention, obviously, so it’s the logical choice for the millions of people living along the East Coast. That puts it in a position to become more attended than Prime. I would recommend Prime over East due to better weather, but they otherwise have similar offerings. Colossalcon Texas in Round Rock, TX is also positioned for growth since it’s located near Austin, TX. The newest event, Colossalcon North in Wisconsin Dells, WI, is likely to remain the smallest due to its location and the time of year it’s held. Wisconsin in November just doesn’t scream “vacation destination”.
The Kalahari resort in Ohio finished a new addition just in time for Colossalcon 2023. They added a new outdoor pool that quickly became a crowd favorite. It replaced some older cabanas and a greenspace which was largely unused. People lounged around the new pool and swam throughout the weekend. It’s not more than 3.5 feet deep, so it’s perfect for casual swimming and relaxing. There are lounge chairs and umbrellas, and some even sit in a shallow section of water so you never leave the pool. There are cabanas nearby as well as some covered lounge chairs with thick cushions which require payment to reserve. Overall, the outdoor pool area looked refreshed and inviting.
There was a high ratio of cosplay vs non-cosplay so it was easy to find someone to film. I think it’s easier to cosplay at Colossalcon because you don’t have to bring your “A game” cosplay. Just imagine your favorite character in a swimsuit and wear that. Most of the work is just hair and makeup. Splash about in the pool and have some photos taken. No stress.
can only book them through the official portal. When it opens you have just minutes to book a room before they are gone. I’ve written some other articles with more detailed information about the booking process so definitely check them out if you plan on booking your own room.
One thing that stands out about Colossalcon is the level of partying. When you bring together a bunch of young, drinking age people at a waterpark resort, things are bound to get wild. Parties spill out of rooms onto balconies and ground level patios. The detached villas draw hundreds of partygoers with live DJs and flashing lights. In 2022 there was a cow themed party called “Cowlossalcon”. Imagine people in cow print swim attire. This year it was succubi - horns, fangs, fake blood, and religious symbology. Dressing up and partying is all good fun, but the sobering realities of alcohol poisoning and sexual assault are too common at events like this. There are known sexual predators in attendance despite attempts to ban them. If you are going to party, always go with trusted friends and never accept an open container from someone you don’t know. A night of fun can quickly become a night of bad memories and trauma.
The vast majority of Colossalcon attendees have positive experiences. They meet up with friends, make new ones, and preserve memorable moments in photos and videos. Colossalcon is a great deal of fun and if some part of this article sparks your interest, you should definitely give it a try. With four locations in the USA, you have options. The combination of the location, the weather, the water park, and the people make Colossalcon Prime one of the most enjoyable conventions out there. It’s bound to be an event you’ll remember for a long time.

The Cosplayers

Thanks to everyone I recorded video with at Colossalcon. You make this event what it is and I appreciate everyone of you.
@elle.chu Vulpix from Pokémon
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@elle.chu Vulpix from Pokémon

@crystallizedcosplay Magical Girl Mei from Overwatch
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@crystallizedcosplay Magical Girl Mei from Overwatch

@blue_bambie Inspector Pikachu from Pokémon
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@blue_bambie Inspector Pikachu from Pokémon

@cupofrumm bunny girl
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@cupofrumm bunny girl

@custardcuttlefish Inkling girl from Splatoon
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@custardcuttlefish Inkling girl from Splatoon

Genshin Impact
@kayla_k866 Yae Miko
@pandamoniumcos Barbara
@flowerchild.cos Hu Tao
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Genshin Impact @kayla_k866 Yae Miko @pandamoniumcos Barbara @flowerchild.cos Hu Tao

@kayla_k866 Yae Miko from Genshin Impact
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@kayla_k866 Yae Miko from Genshin Impact

@pandamoniumcos Barbara from Genshin Impact
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@pandamoniumcos Barbara from Genshin Impact

@flowerchild.cos Hu Tao from Genshin Impact
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@flowerchild.cos Hu Tao from Genshin Impact

@lillian.reptillian Princess Peach
@kravenem Bowsette
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@lillian.reptillian Princess Peach @kravenem Bowsette

Mario group
@ott3rp0p.cos Yoshette
@he1lo_katie Chompette
@prettyfly4aemogirll 
@_thatgirlemily12_ Dry Bones
? Booette
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Mario group @ott3rp0p.cos Yoshette @he1lo_katie Chompette @prettyfly4aemogirll @_thatgirlemily12_ Dry Bones ? Booette

@he1lo_katie Chompette
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@he1lo_katie Chompette

@ott3rp0p.cos Yoshette
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@ott3rp0p.cos Yoshette

@_thatgirlemily12_ Dry Bones
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@_thatgirlemily12_ Dry Bones

@prettyfly4aemogirll Toadette
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@im.renna Hinata from Naruto
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@im.renna Hinata from Naruto

@elle.chu Rem from Re:Zero
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@elle.chu Rem from Re:Zero

@otakuillusion Junko Enoshima from Danganronpa
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@otakuillusion Junko Enoshima from Danganronpa

@cupofrumm bunny girl
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@cupofrumm bunny girl

@custardcuttlefish Inkling girl from Splatoon
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@custardcuttlefish Inkling girl from Splatoon

@elizawitchcosplay Laudna from Critical Role
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@elizawitchcosplay Laudna from Critical Role

@daemeryss succubus
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@daemeryss succubus

@tayter_gator Arataki Itto from Genshin Impact
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@tayter_gator Arataki Itto from Genshin Impact

@weeb_next_door Vesves from Sailor Moon
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@weeb_next_door Vesves from Sailor Moon

@tanakaycos Cerecere from Sailor Moon
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@tanakaycos Cerecere from Sailor Moon

@heavncos Maid Kobeni from Chainsaw Man
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@heavncos Maid Kobeni from Chainsaw Man

@hidemyglitch Maid Paine from Final Fantasy
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@hidemyglitch Maid Paine from Final Fantasy

@mrsnemesiss Juvia from Fairy Tail
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@mrsnemesiss Juvia from Fairy Tail

Five Nights at Freddy’s
@ott3rp0p.cos Roxy
@kravenem Chica
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Five Nights at Freddy’s @ott3rp0p.cos Roxy @kravenem Chica

@paigesicle_art D.Va from Overwatch
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@paigesicle_art D.Va from Overwatch

Stranger Things
@secretlyatree Max
@jackerufu Billy
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Stranger Things @secretlyatree Max @jackerufu Billy

Stranger Things
@darkmissionary Steve
@martini.spilt.merini Erica
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Stranger Things @darkmissionary Steve @martini.spilt.merini Erica

@the.moxierose Aerith from Final Fantasy
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@the.moxierose Aerith from Final Fantasy

@the.weze Rika from Final Fantasy X
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@the.weze Rika from Final Fantasy X

@miryokucosplay Shego from Kim Possible
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@miryokucosplay Shego from Kim Possible

@seluna.xx Chocola from Nekopara
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@seluna.xx Chocola from Nekopara

@fabulizcosplay Tamari from Naruto
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@fabulizcosplay Tamari from Naruto

@hidemyglitch Sheik from The Legend of Zelda
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@hidemyglitch Sheik from The Legend of Zelda

@elizawitchcosplay Makima from Chainsaw Man
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@elizawitchcosplay Makima from Chainsaw Man

@zadrabug Ahri x Zelda, K/DA x Zelda mashup
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@zadrabug Ahri x Zelda, K/DA x Zelda mashup

@ringwraith_ Vincent Valentine from Final Fantasy
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@ringwraith_ Vincent Valentine from Final Fantasy

@greywolf7880 Zoro from One Piece
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@greywolf7880 Zoro from One Piece

@crystallizedcosplay Riven from League of Legends music video "Awaken"
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@crystallizedcosplay Riven from League of Legends music video "Awaken"

@im.renna Satsuki Kiryuin from Kill la Kill
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@im.renna Satsuki Kiryuin from Kill la Kill

@costay.moo Ryuko Matio from Kill la Kill
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@costay.moo Ryuko Matio from Kill la Kill

@zadrabug Commander Shepard from Mass Effect
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@zadrabug Commander Shepard from Mass Effect

@katerina.cos Atago from Azur Lane
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@katerina.cos Atago from Azur Lane

@november.black.productions ODSTs from Halo
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@november.black.productions ODSTs from Halo

@ratcrypt Rouge from Sonic the Hedgehog
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@ratcrypt Rouge from Sonic the Hedgehog

@stephie.gif succubus
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@stephie.gif succubus

@kairoekki Sasha from Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
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@kairoekki Sasha from Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

@idolgutz Rebecca from Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
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@idolgutz Rebecca from Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

@neoncosplays Lucy from Cyberpunk: Edgerunners
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@neoncosplays Lucy from Cyberpunk: Edgerunners

@cosplayer.l.c Bakugo from My Hero Academia
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@cosplayer.l.c Bakugo from My Hero Academia

@budgieantics_cosplay Yor from Spy x Family
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@budgieantics_cosplay Yor from Spy x Family

@kaiathyte Succubus Marin from My Dress-up Darling
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@kaiathyte Succubus Marin from My Dress-up Darling

@jamboreecosplay Homura from Doctor Stone
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@jamboreecosplay Homura from Doctor Stone

@capricornholio_ Kars from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
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@capricornholio_ Kars from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

@elizawitchcosplay Muzan from Demon Slayer
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@elizawitchcosplay Muzan from Demon Slayer

@kiraa_siooo bunny girl
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@kiraa_siooo bunny girl

@kairoekki Aerith from Final Fantasy VII remake
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@kairoekki Aerith from Final Fantasy VII remake

@bonboricosplay Velvet from Odin Sphere
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@bonboricosplay Velvet from Odin Sphere

@im.renna Officer 2B from NieR:Automata
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@im.renna Officer 2B from NieR:Automata

@elle.chu Bunny Ram from Re:Zero
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@elle.chu Bunny Ram from Re:Zero

@bassdrip Bunny Reika from Gantz
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@bassdrip Bunny Reika from Gantz

@kaiatao raver
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@kaiatao raver

nuns with guns from Hitman
@vermillionvexus
@lostintimeattire
@brennen_yo
@beebunscosplay
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@casaragicosplay Sheik x Akali "Sheikali", K/DA x Zelda mashup
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@casaragicosplay Sheik x Akali "Sheikali", K/DA x Zelda mashup

@custardcuttlefish Jinx from League of Legends
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@custardcuttlefish Jinx from League of Legends

@elizawitchcosplay Ninetales from Pokémon
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@elizawitchcosplay Ninetales from Pokémon

@elle.chu Rem from Re:Zero
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@elle.chu Rem from Re:Zero

@littlelionheart.cosplay Barbie
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Chainsaw Man
@queenmabcos Makima
@toodleloucos Power
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Chainsaw Man @queenmabcos Makima @toodleloucos Power

Succubi
@notsriracha
@_izzy_1014_cosplay_
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Record of Ragnarok
@funsizedcosplay Buddha
@brandywinecosplay Aphrodite
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Record of Ragnarok @funsizedcosplay Buddha @brandywinecosplay Aphrodite

@notsriracha Shuten-douji from Fate/Grand Order
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@notsriracha Shuten-douji from Fate/Grand Order

Re:Zero
@elizawitchcosplay Rem
@elle.chu Ram
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Re:Zero @elizawitchcosplay Rem @elle.chu Ram

Panty & Stocking
@sugarrstars Stocking
@smoodiie Panty
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Panty & Stocking @sugarrstars Stocking @smoodiie Panty

@rebellemaki Junko Enoshima from Danganronpa
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@rebellemaki Junko Enoshima from Danganronpa

@snowylies Katherine
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@snowylies Katherine

@woozy.strawberry Yor from Spy x Family
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@woozy.strawberry Yor from Spy x Family

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