Thursday, 25 April 2013

Tea and Text's Guide to Surviving the Calgary Comic Expo Part 3

Survival Guide Part 3: Calgary Comic Expo 2013

Part 1 on the Where/What/When can be found: HERE

Part 2 on Convention Etiquette can be found: HERE

This time I'll be covering the all important:

What to Bring: 

  • TICKETS/BADGE - you can't get in without them. Tickets will be exchanged for a badge and wristband that you must keep on you at ALL TIMES. These are NON TRANSFERABLE after you redeem the ticket - so don't go trying to pass them off to someone else because I'm pretty sure that wristband is going to have to be on your wrist all weekend - you know the kind you have to cut off?

  • COMFY SHOES - I cannot stress this one enough. Dr. Scholl's that bitch because you will be on your feet 90% of the time waiting in lines, running from panel to panel and chasing down the best price for that rare N64 game.
    • If you HAVE TO wear high heels as a part of your costume, bring some flats tucked into your bag or something. Your feet will thank you. Last year there was a smokin' hot Wonder Woman in these uber sexy leather stiletto boots with 4 inch heels on Friday, come Sunday she was in flats with a tensor bandage on her ankle (ouch!). 

  • CASH - (Canadian Dollars for those coming from abroad) most vendors deal exclusively in cash. The Autographs/Photo ops are done ONLY IN CASH. So make sure you bring enough, it's a terrible feeling to get to the front of the line for that Peter Dinklage autograph just to find out you're short $10. If you run out, there are ATM machines (they charge a fee) or if you're lucky enough to bank with BMO there's a BMO ATM right outside of the BMO center - this one is also relatively empty compared to the ones inside.
  • A Backpack - if this is your first time and you think bringing a backpack is weird (I did), I now assure you it's not. It's a complete lifesaver. You can stuff your purchases in here, carry food, spare batteries or your very tired child (kidding..).
  • A Hard Cover Folder - Just something to store your autographs/photos in so that they don't get lost or crushed in your bag.
  • Camera - seeing everything will completely overwhelm you and odds are you won't remember every awesome detail. So capture the moment where you saw a great costume or actors at a panel. Bring plenty of empty SD cards and charge your battery (or bring spares) each day! Just follow the picture taking etiquette rules I laid out HERE.
  • Water Bottle/Drinks - you'll be walking around all day and squeeing at nerdy things, you'll need a drink. Juice boxes are handy for a quick sugar boost, there's fountains around the outside of the Corral that you can fill your bottle. There are places to purchase drinks but the lines are extremely long and just a bottle of water is insanely expensive (upwards of $4). 
  • Snacks and or Food - in all the excitement of running around time flies and before you know it you've missed lunch. Pack some easy snacks like granola bars, dried fruit, or the all time favorite beef jerky! There is concession stands that you have to wait in line for some really small, greasy and questionable but expensive pizza and the like. The next day we just grabbed a sub from Subway for lunch later, or you could pack some sandwiches or if you're brave you can head out and try some of the restaurants around the Stampede Park.  
  • Hand Sanitizer - you'll probably be touching a lot of stuff other people have handled, there's lots of people grouped together and maybe even shaking hands with your favorite celebrity. So please reduce the odds of catching a "Convention Cold" by slathering a bit of alcohol based hand sanitizer once in awhile. Last year the mini swag bag they handed out at the door came with a little bottle so that was super handy. 
  • A Fully Charged Cell/Smartphone - if you're in a group a cell will be a life saver when you get separated in the hordes of people moving from one location to another when panels get out. Just resist playing games on it, if it dies and you get separated at the end of the day and you can't remember your buddy's number and he's your ride home - it's going to be havoc trying to find them. That being leads me to the next item.
  • Portable Gaming System (optional) - to pass the time while waiting in lines.
  • Notebook/Pens - for impromptu notes or autographs, or to doodle on while you wait. Bring a Gold or Silver Metallic craft pen - These can write on virtually any surface, and they'll show up against a black background. Most autograph tables have something like this - but better safe than sorry. 
Plan Your Weekend:

You only have 3 days to get this all in and it can be overwhelming.

Realistically you might not get to see everything you want to, or certain things will conflict with each other. So decide right now - before you even get there what you want to do and who you want to see and what sacrifices you're willing to make. 

First: Check THIS SCHEDULE out for all the panels and activities.
  • All cell phones these days have a calendar/scheduling function - USE IT
  • plan out what panels or activities you want to see - write down the time and location!!
  • Do you want to do a photo op? - these are scheduled (Schedule HERE
If you need some planning ideas below is my tentative schedule.


I use opening day to shop, orient myself to the environment because:
  • A lot of celebrities will not arrive until late in the afternoon, or until later in the weekend. BUT this is a great time to walk around the autograph area to find out where they'll be stationed, the autograph price is usually posted as well as a time schedule of when they'll be there - so take note of these. But if the celebrity I want happens to be there that day you can get it now.
    • There are also a few celebrities who use "Autograph" passes that you may have to buy in advance. This is a great day to do that. Last year you needed one of these for Stan Lee's autograph.
    • It's generally one item per one autograph fee. So if you have more than one item you'd like to get signed you may need to pay an additional fee (One guy last year had a set of Avenger guitars and he had to pay for each one to be signed by Stan Lee)
  • If you came to the expo with something you wanted to buy specifically in mind - GET IT THIS DAY. Because it might not be there tomorrow - like the Camilla d'Errico canvas prints that sold out in less than a half hour into the start of the expo last year.
  • If you've never been to the BMO center and surrounding buildings - this is a good time to find out the location of the panels you're interested in or the location of your photo ops (so you don't waste time the next day trying to find the place).
  • Panels/autographs/photo ops
  • This is the day usually reserved for the most popular panels such as The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones - so I kind of camp out in the Corral almost all day...
Any suggestions or tips feel free to add them in the comments!

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