Supernatural Con Tips and Tidbits
No website dedicated to the wonderful world of Supernatural would be complete without a bit of convention information! By some weird and wonderful twist of fate, I’ve had the good fortune to have attended three Creation conventions in the last year, VanCon, NJCon, and BurCon last year, and soon PhxCon and VegasCon! I am by NO MEANS an expert on these conventions, but sometimes the best advice comes from people who stumble and bumble their way around, making every mistake along the way. So let’s get started.
To “Con Hotel” or not to “Con Hotel”, that is the question…
There are some significant advantages to staying at the same hotel that the con is being held. First and foremost is convenience. If you need a snack, a drink, a cosplay wardrobe change (or any wardrobe change), a nap… this is where you’ll want to do it. And there’s NOTHING worse than accidentally leaving your lanyard or camera or money in the hotel room and having to travel off-site to retrieve it! As well-organized as the conventions are, they do move pretty quickly once panels and activities start and you don’t want to miss something (like a last minute photo op!) because you forgot your wallet and need to venture off-site to get it.
Another advantage is the frequent and inevitable accidental star-sightings. At VanCon, my friends and I were hanging out in the hotel bar when Adam Rose showed up! I sent Adam a beer from the LustyFangirls and he came running over to meet us (recognizing us from our semi-joking tweets threatening to tie him to the roof of our car and take him for a spin…) Adam is a DOLL and a VERY good sport! He then proceeded to sit down with a group of us in the bar and play Cards Against Humanity. And he kicked our asses. I still think he cheated… Anyway, opportunities like this don’t come up if you’re not in the con hotel, or random run-ins in the elevators. These happen on a regular basis, like the time I went up the escalator behind Adam Williams (VFX) whose pants were falling down. He was commando… But I digress.
On the other hand, if you’re like me and chronically BROKE, staying offsite could save you a lot of money. It’s certainly doable, but you need to be organized (so you don’t forget things you need!) and you need to be willing to spend a lot of time away from your room, so you may end up lugging giant bags of STUFF around all day. Do your research to find the best of both worlds – low cost and close proximity, or easy access / transportation to the con hotel. There is SO MUCH going on during a convention; between panels, pictures, autographs and the vendor room (not to mention meeting and spending time with all your new Supernatural friends!), that you really won’t want to leave the hotel. In addition, if you’re chronically BROKE like me, you won’t be happy about the $15 hamburger in the hotel restaurant, so bringing snacks is paramount. Conversely, by staying in the con hotel, you can potentially purchase and fix all your own food (and booze), saving oodles of money! Ramen, anyone?
Let’s talk PACKAGES!
Hmm, Gold, Silver, Copper, Preferred Weekend, General Weekend, General Admission… it all gets so confusing. Which package is right for you? (hehe I said package…)
Gold is the cream of the crop, but what does it actually get you? You get an assigned seat for the weekend, usually closest to the front and you get to pick, an early morning panel with The Boys (which you might not want to get up for if you’ve been…indulging the night before), the Saturday night Cabaret, and oodles of autographs (but NOT everyone). It’s a good deal. But it doesn’t include any photo ops. None of the packages do. Sorry. *sad face*
Silver gets everything Gold gets, EXCEPT the assigned seats are a bit farther back and it doesn’t include the Sunday morning panel with The Boys. This is a good option if you want a decent assigned seat and autographs.
Copper generally gets you a decent assigned seat a bit further back and includes the Saturday night Cabaret. That’s it. This is the most economical package for an assigned seat and the Cabaret (which is $40 extra otherwise).
Preferred, et al. – The rest of the packages get you varying degrees of assigned seating, some for the weekend and some for individual days only. If you don’t want to go to the Cabaret (shame on you!) and you don’t particularly want autographs then these are good options. Not paying for autographs leaves more money for photo ops and vendor STUFFS!
And then there’s General Admission. Do NOT be put off by this. Yes, you have to fight for open seating every day and yes, you’re in the back of the room. HOWEVER, this should not discourage you if you’re on a budget and NEED the “cheap” seats. I went General Admission at VanCon and I can tell you that my seat, ON AN AISLE, in the back was actually BETTER than my friend’s GOLD seat. Why? Because she was squashed in the middle of a row with dozens of people on either side and tall people in front of her. I had a clear view, albeit farther back, but it was unobstructed, and I could come and go without having to walk past 20 annoyed people. Here’s the secret: the key to good viewing is to get an AISLE seat (unless you’re front row center – and those seats are ALWAYS taken by the people who come to every con and have amazing cameras. We want them there! That’s how we get all the wonderful pictures!) Cameras have amazing zoom lenses nowadays. Aisle seats let you put them to good use.
Be prepared to spend more than you intended!
No matter how good your willpower is, there WILL be things you just HAVE to buy once you get there. Weren’t fangirling over Julian Richings before the con? You will be after his panel! He’s amazing and intelligent and eloquent and funny and adorable and… get the picture? You’ll decide you just HAVE to have a “Dance with Death” photo op and end up spending an extra $50 you weren’t prepared for. And be prepared for this to happen with ALL OF THEM. Seriously. Every single actor associated with this show is amazing and you will fall completely in love. Did we mention how much BETTER LOOKING they all are in person?!!
And don’t even get me started on the Vendor Room! Hundreds, down the toilet. And worth every stinking penny! Trust me, your willpower is NOT that good… No one can resist all the beautiful STUFFS!
Attending a con alone? Go You!
Fear not. I promise, absolutely PROMISE, that you will meet and make new friends on Day One. Standing in line for registration, standing in line to buy photo ops, drooling over Eldwenne’s jewelry in the Vendor Room… SPNFamily isn’t just a word that gets tossed around on Twitter. It really means something at a con, to the fans AND to the actors. The only way you’ll be left alone at a Supernatural convention is if you WANT to be left alone. Shy? That’s okay. When you’re sitting in the auditorium look at the person to your left, look at the person to your right… say hi and ask them if it’s their first convention. This is the BEST opener. If it’s their first convention you can say, “Me too!” Boom, instant friends. If it’s not their first, tell them it’s yours and they will enthusiastically share advice about what to expect. This works every time. I promise, and if it doesn’t? Just try again. The camaraderie and energy that permeates every Supernatural con is palpable and REAL. You are NEVER without friends at a Supernatural convention. As a matter of fact, Jared’s favorite part of the conventions, and almost the first thing he asks every time, is “Who’s here for the first time?” Look around to see who puts their hand up. These are your people!
There is so much more specific information to cover, but I wanted to give an introduction to some of the most important stuff. I’d like to set up a Con FAQ section soon where you can ask questions, get honest answers and hopefully some helpful advice. But the most important thing to remember is that CONS ARE PARTIES and like no other convention around! There’s music, music and more music and Richard, Matt, Rob, and Loudain Swain keep the energy pumped throughout the entire weekend. You’ll likely leave the con sleep-deprived and exhausted. And that’s exactly how it should be.
Oh and one more thing! Wash your hands A LOT. The SPNFamily likes to share, everything. They don’t call it Con Crud for nothing. But even if you are left in a drooling puddle of snot once you get home, it will have been SO worth it!
Jaimee Mayhem, aka @RoamingSol