Friday, 22 March 2013

Tea and Text's Guide to Surviving the Calgary Comic Expo Part 1

Survival Guide Part 1: Calgary Comic Expo 2013

So last year was my first time EVER going to any kind of conventions or expo. It was an impulse decision literally weeks before the convention was set to start. Needless to say I was excited at the prospect of meeting all these amazingly talented stars and artists but terrified at the same time. So I'm just going to impart what that experience has taught me in hopes that it'll help you plan.

The Logistics:

  • April 26 from 12 pm - 8 pm
  • April 27 from 10 am - 7 pm
  • April 28 from 10 am - 5 pm
Hint: If you're travelling TO Calgary, I recommend arriving a day earlier than when the Expo starts just so you can be rested and refreshed for the day of April 26 instead of being tired and cranky from travel. Same goes for leaving - leave the day after the Expo ends (this mostly goes for if you're driving). This also gives you some time to check out some great shopping, the zoo and if you're driving - the Dinosaur museum at Drumheller. 

  • BMO Center
    20 Roundup Way SE
    Calgary, AB
  • Bring a GPS/Smartphone to map locations that you may want to see around the city. The information for getting to the Stampede Park can be found: HERE
Now to drive or to take public transit?

If you Drive Yourself:
  • You can leave your coat (you really don't need it no matter how cold it is outside, it's SCORCHING HOT inside) or drop off any bags you don't need.
  • There's lots of public parking (check the map below), last year it costed $7 for all day (it's likely gone up this year) per car. 
  • For people in costumes you don't have to worry about getting your wings ripped off in a slamming train door, or being denied transport for plastic (but pointy) weapons.
  • BUT: 
    • You need to get there early to get a parking spot, it fills up FAST
If you take Public Transit:
  • You don't need to worry about parking or the extra costs associated
  • To plan your trip try: HERE
  • Save the environment! 

  • The BMO center houses all the exhibitors/vendors/autograph area/photo ops and the Palomino Halls A-E where some panels will be held
  • The Boyce Theatre and Stampede Corral is where a lot of the big panels will be held


First thing's first if you're planning on going (especially if you're travelling to Calgary): GET THE TICKETS EARLY and you're GUARANTEED ENTRY.
Don't make the mistake of waiting until you get there. Last year with the Star Trek reunion people waited until the last minute to get their tickets and they were sorely disappointed when they spent all day waiting in line to buy tickets and then finding out weren't allowed in due to the facility reaching capacity and then some (it got scary dangerous). 

All the information you need to buy your tickets can be found: HERE

Hint: If you can (I missed out by seconds) get a VIP pass (they're sold out now but for future reference). The price may seem steep, but it's worth it to save the hours upon hours of waiting in line because you get to go right to the front, you also get prime panel seating (especially in the Corral, it's where the questions for the celebrities are drawn from) - plus in Boyce theatre there's limited seating and if it's a popular panel there's a cut off for how many people they can fit into the room so you may not get into the panel at all and there's a neat swag bag. 

Where to Stay:
The Calgary Expo website recommends hotels that they're partnered with, this also means that they're a bit higher in the price range ($109-149 CAD) but they're generally closer to the Stampede grounds. All Hotel information they recommend can be found: HERE

Where we stayed last time was the Econolodge Inn & Suites University for about $80-98 a night. It's clean, has free parking, internet is included, comes with a free basic continental breakfast (cereal, breads, coffee etc) and a pool/gym/laundry area. We got a room with a kitchen suite so we got groceries and just cooked for ourselves and it's only about a 15 minute drive from the Stampede grounds with an LRT public transit station right across the street if you want. But basically we just used this room to sleep in and spent minimal time in there so it worked perfectly for us. 

Now that I've got you started on how to get there, check back for Part 2: Convention Etiquette (yes it exists!).

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