Colossalcon East 2023 Swimsuit Cosplay Convention
A waterpark adventure in the mountains of Pennsylvania
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Colossalcon East was a blast! The carefree atmosphere and fun-seeking attendees made this an easy and enjoyable con to attend. Held at the Kalahari waterpark resort in the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania, the easternmost Colossalcon recently had its 8th convention. Colossalcon has a total of four events now with East being the second. Rounding out the collection are Colossalcon in Ohio, Colossalcon Texas in Round Rock, TX and Colossalcon North in Wisconsin Dells, WI.
While attendance counts are not publicly posted, it was easy to see that attendance has certainly gone up. Colossalcon East was always behind in attendance to its big brother, Colossalcon in Ohio. That seems to be changing, though. Colossalcon in Ohio is still slowly recovering from its dramatic loss of attendees following the pandemic. Colossalcon East suffered as well, but it seems to be on a consistent growth track. The increase may not be as dramatic as some conventions have experienced post-COVID, but it’s noticeable. Coupled with its proximity to population-dense areas like New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia, it has a greater opportunity for growth than the other Colossalcons.
Like the other Colossalcons, Colossalcon East is known for its swimsuit cosplays, waterpark activities, and party-like atmosphere. It’s a very relaxed convention where you can lay around all day in the lazy river or soak in a hot tub, try your gaming skills in the arcade, or participate in the common anime convention events in the convention center. After a few years of attending Colossalcon events I have the distinct impression that the staff and owners really don’t mind how you spend your time. As long as you enjoy yourself, they seem happy to have you.
The recipe for Colossalcon East is basically the same as the other Colossalcons. Take one part Kalahari waterpark resort, one part anime convention, and mix in a bunch of anime fans. It kinda sounds like weeb soup, but it's actually much more pleasant than that. Yes, there are weebs and yes, they do kinda smell funny, but there’s a big waterpark to wash away the funk. It’s a balmy 80+ degrees Fahrenheit inside the giant indoor waterpark with high humidity. That’s welcoming when the September weather turns rainy and cool. Contrast that with Colossalcon Texas’ 108 degree heat! What a welcome change, although swapping the dates for these two events would be fantastic. Consistently held during the second weekend of September, the weather is always teetering between bright and sunny or moody and rainy. This year, the outdoor waterpark was open during the day when the sun was shining, but closed as soon as the clouds rolled in. And boy did they roll in. Heavy rains pounded the transparent roof of the indoor waterpark and some lighting was thrown in for good measure. It was quite the display.
Weather can’t stop the fun, though. Pretty much everything you can do is inside the large Kalahari resort. This location features 977 guest rooms, a 220,000-square-foot (20,000 m2) indoor waterpark, and a 230,000-square-foot (21,000 m2) convention center. There are two main hotel wings which stretch out for a city block. Nestled at the center is the waterpark and arcade. The convention center lies at one end of the facility. The convention itself follows the same formula as the other Colossalcons. You have your staple features such as the vendor hall, artists alley, concerts, and guests. There are panels, viewing rooms, video and board games, manga, and photo ops. One standout feature is the Otaku Flea Market where attendees sell their unwanted items at tables set up just like in the vendor hall. It’s held on Sunday and is incredibly popular. The room is filled with people and overflows into the surrounding hallways.
As a convention of modest size, everything is scaled appropriately. The vendor hall and artist alley are small compared to relatively close conventions such as Otakon, Anime NYC, and Katsucon. However, that doesn’t mean they aren’t as good. Reports from vendors indicated that sales were very good and they were generally quite happy with the experience. As I often note in my articles, smaller conventions can be more enjoyable than the large ones since they are less crowded and less stressful. Queues are short and die down quickly. You probably won’t be blocked from attending a panel due to it reaching capacity. Guests often have no line and you can walk right up and have a conversation with them. It’s a welcome difference compared to the aforementioned cons which can be overwhelming.
While I generally recommend Colossalcon in Ohio, your decision of which one to attend will likely hinge on your proximity to the event. The Kalahari resorts are typically far away from metropolitan areas. Transportation is a concern, so do your research before you attend. The closest airport to Colossalcon East is in Scranton, PA, but it's a small regional airport with limited flight options. The best large airports are in Newark, NJ and Philadelphia, PA, both about 2 hours away.
Cosplay and Late Night Swims
Cosplay is, of course, a big part of any anime convention. Colossalcons are known for the swimsuit cosplays, but now also for silly and fun themes such as cow print, succubus, Hooters, and more. Large groups of people will dress-up in matching themed outfits and throw impromptu parties wherever they go. The lobby of the Pocono Manor Kalahari resort, being centrally located, becomes the main party place. A DJ was sending out music as people danced, talked, and drank. Drinking is a big deal at Colossalcon and the Kalahari is happy to oblige with tall, refillable cups. The party goes into the night at the After Hours Waterpark Event. Since the convention is now officially a four day event, the late night swim is held on all three nights, Thurs - Sat. For $40 you can partake in the indoor waterpark activities while DJs spin tunes. It’s a private event so it’s just you and other weebs - no families or normal folks on vacation.
If you’re on the fence about Colossalcon events, maybe give this one a try. It sits right behind Colossalcon Ohio in my opinion and is closest to the large East Coast metropolitan areas. Gather your friends and book a room before they sell out!