Yeticon is nestled up against the ski slopes of the Blue Mountains, right near Lake Huron. The location is both picturesque and unique. It's the only anime and geek culture convention that I know of with a ski lift and mountainside roller coaster-type thing.
This was my first time going and I was surprised by a couple of things. First of all, for a relatively new con, it has garnered a lot of attention. There were many recognizable cosplayers and photographers present. You could say it has a reputation larger than its attendance count, which I estimate to be under 3,000. Secondly, it has a very high percentage of cosplay participation, meaning most of the attendees were in cosplay. That’s great! I nearly didn’t attend due to it’s out of the way location, but I’m glad I did.
The attendees were showing off some very nice cosplays (see the photos at the bottom). The location is great to shoot at because it has so many interesting features. From the lagoon, to the mountain, to the restaurants and hotels; it was easy to find good places to shoot. There is a man-made waterfall feature that is particularly nice. It certainly draws a lot of people during the busy times of the day.
The weather was excellent on Friday and the first part of Saturday. Heavy rain set in by Saturday afternoon, but the weather gods blessed us with a glorious two hours of clear skies before nightfall. It seemed like everyone came out to get photos in those two hours and it was a great way to end my short visit. I had to leave very early Sunday morning to make my flight back home. I snapped some great photos on my way out.
The Blue Mountain resort is a trendy little village made up of shops, restaurants, and hotels. There’s a nice lagoon in the center with a boardwalk and many great photo spots. It’s apparently the third most-visited ski resort in Canada with 750,000 lift tickets sold per year. In the summer it’s much less visited, which makes it a good time of year for a convention like Yeticon. Besides, snow and cosplay don’t go together very well.
As I mentioned, the location is out of the way. Situated about two hours Northwest of Toronto, you can only get there by ground transportation. I believe there was a charter bus scheduled out of Toronto. When you fly into another country you have to pay extra. It adds a good $200 to any plane flight. I opted to save that money by flying into Detroit and driving the almost six hour route. While a long and zig-zagging drive along mostly country roads, it was very scenic. I passed through a number of nice little towns with historic architecture. Had I more time I might have stopped and visited some of them along the way. The area in general is a bit of a vacation destination. There are resorts all along the lake leading to the Blue Mountains. Ontario is a beautiful part of the world.
The Convention Center
The convention center building was on the small side. It manages to hold a con this size okay, but any more growth and it will quickly run out of room. The hallways are oddly designed - narrow and full of stairs. The two main entry doors facing the village were too small. There are larger doors on the opposite side of the building, but they didn’t connect with where most of the attendees were traveling. Getting to the vendor hall means navigating down a tall staircase and through a choke-point-of-a-walkway that’s much to narrow for the size of the venue. I don’t know if any of the hotels have any convention space that might be useable in the future. The Hyatt I stayed at didn’t seem to have any. Speaking of which, the Hyatt is very nice. The rooms are well appointed, with the larger ones having a kitchen complete with dishes, a full size refrigerator, and a dishwasher. There’s also a private pool, which is nice for cosplay photoshoots.
Parking is a bit limited. During the day there are plenty of gravel lots with free parking. Overnight parking is only allowed at one of the lots, however, so that becomes a bit of a challenge. I found a smaller, lesser-visited lot that didn’t have any signage and my rental car remained untouched until my departure. The hotels each charge a parking fee, with the Hyatt’s being $20 per night. That wouldn’t be a terrible price in a busy downtown, but in the middle of nowhere Ontario it’s a bit too much.
All said and done, I spent nearly $1000 to attend Yeticon. I’m going to make this a thing with my articles - tallying the actual costs. Going to conventions like this requires planning and saving to make it happen. Well, I say that, but I actually didn’t buy my plane tickets until the night before I left. Oh well. I still got a decent ticket price and it was money well-spent in my opinion. Yeticon is a fun, small convention with great cosplayers and a unique and picturesque location.
International flights to Canada are more expensive than domestic flights. They made up more than half of my costs. The remainder is car rental, meals, registration, and the hotel cost. I made some new friends and split a nice room at the Hyatt for just $100.