A fan favorite Comic Con
WonderCon is a comic convention held at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim California. Operated by Comic Con International, the same company that runs the very popular San Diego Comic Con, WonderCon is an absolute blast of a convention. It’s as though the company knows how to step aside and just let people have a good time. Too many conventions want the event to be about itself, constantly reminding you of how great it is. WonderCon sets the stage and gives you, the attendee, the opportunity to shine.
There are many things that conventions do. They offer panels and programming and host special events such as balls, masquerades, concerts and raves. They provide space for vendors and artists to sell their products. They allow companies to host presentations to announce new products, TV shows, or movies. You can meet celebrities and get signatures and photos taken with them. Conventions also create a place where anyone can come in cosplay and share their creativity. WonderCon offers all of these things and doesn’t care which one you indulge in. As a cosplay-centric content creator, I’ll focus on the cosplay side of things. There is much that could be said about the vendor hall, programming, and other aspects, but frankly I spend 99% of my time at conventions meeting and filming cosplayers.
From a cosplay perspective, the Anaheim Convention Center is a great venue. It has a fantastic outdoor promenade, beautifully landscaped with plants and bushes and lined with tall palm trees. A choreograph of brickwork lines the walking paths while the sun filters through the palm branches. A fountain with jets and colored lights sits at the main entrance which is made obvious by the grand sweeping wall of glass. During the convention it’s plastered with a massive advertisement for the newest TV show or movie. This year it was a new movie called Knights of the Zodiac. That’s okay, because it fits the environment of Comic Con which embraces the production industry and comic-related media.
The presence of food many trucks is another sign of a convention, and a convention center, that actually cares about its attendees. Not every con does this and not every convention center allows it. Some just want you to buy their crappy, overpriced food. WonderCon has perhaps the largest and best lineup of food trucks with tables and umbrellas offering a comfortable place to sit and eat. The convention center itself is pretty good. Except for the impressive exterior, it’s not going to win any design awards. It’s functional, modern, clean, and easy to access. The vendor hall is directly across from the main entry doors which line the entire west side of the building. This might sound silly thing to mention but when you have tens of thousands of attendees having multiple entry doors becomes an important matter. Some conventions, such as Otakon in Washington D.C., limit entrance to just a handful of doors which creates a nightmare. Queues can wrap around the building leading to frustrated and sun-stroked attendees. It’s not a great first impression. WonderCon has no such issues. Also, they mail badges which makes it even easier to get in. There’s no need to wait in line for registration!
Convention center staff were polite and even welcoming. They were stationed at the entry points and simply looked for badges. Security checkpoints were mostly visual checks for anything prohibited. There were no metal detectors and I had no problems walking through with clunky camera gear. I wish I could report on the variety and quality of the programming, but I didn’t attend any panels or events. My schedule is cosplay, cosplay, and more cosplay, followed by a quick run through the vendor hall. Comic Con International is known for hosting industry panels where actors, producers, writers and other professionals participate. Big name celebrities are less common at WonderCon compared to San Diego Comic Con, but they still make appearances. From my experience at San Diego, I’m certain that the panels at WonderCon offer the same professional presentations. The audio and video systems are fully functional and professionally operated. The stages are skirted and have WonderCon skip and repeat backdrops. The tables have paper tents with the hosts’ names on them. At the larger panels with sign language interpreters, they have their own dedicated audio monitor. It’s a big step up from pretty much every anime convention I’ve attended.
The vendor hall is very large, as you would expect. It has a mix of everything from comic book dealers, to guest booths, non-profit organizations, fellow conventions, and general nerdy merch sellers. Funko had a large display selling their plastic statues. People still eat that stuff up, walking out with massive Funko bags full of product. It’s also home to the autograph and photo areas. As with most comic cons, you pay in advance to have your opportunity to meet a celebrity.
The real story for me is the cosplay. California has a great community of cosplayers. They come to have fun, meet people, have conversations, and of course to show off their cosplay. Their cosplays run the gamut from comic book to movies to anime. You’ll see funny mashups and incredible impersonators. The atmosphere is light-hearted and relaxed. You can people watch all day and be very entertained. I saw many a familiar face, but I also met some new people who I asked to film. It’s always best to ask a cosplayer for permission before taking photo or video of them. This courtesy is more commonly known at anime conventions than comic cons and I found myself educating a person or two about this while at WonderCon. For the most part they are the uninformed casual attendee who means well. They just want to snap a cell phone pic of something cool they saw so they can share it with a friend or relative. I didn’t see any bad actors sniping shots on a telephoto lens like I did at Anime Expo. Please enjoy this gallery of still frames from my cosplay music video. Be sure to give it a watch!