Written by Nick Kazden
But now I'm a young man who's been around a con a few times. I know what I like and I get my own pass (thanks, Bleeding Cool!). And let me tell you, I thoroughly enjoyed my first Wonder Con.
The Anaheim convention center is great, but being so close to Disneyland makes for some packed intersections and long waits to cross the street. But compared to the madness that is SDCC, this was nothing. I only had to pay $10 for parking. I think that just put me in a good mood for the rest of the day because I was expecting the hellish $25 rate charged in San Diego. But waiting for the shuttle to get back to the Honda Center or Anaheim Stadium took 50 minutes on average at the end of the day.
Crowd wise Wonder Con was great though. The longest I had to wait for a panel was 15 minutes, and there were always plenty of seats. Sometime in San Diego you might need to leave an hour early to get in line for a panel and still end up not getting a seat if it's popular enough. And I'm pretty sure no one slept outside the convention center waiting for the events in the Arena, people just strolled in the next morning no problem. I went to some really enjoyable panels, and the smaller rooms gave many of them a more intimate experience. There weren't long lines for microphones, the panelists would just pick people with their hands up and have a nice little back-and-forth for a moment.
Ironically, one of my biggest complaints about SDCC is one of Wonder Concert biggest strengths. At Comic-Con, the actual comics seem to be overwhelmed by big studio movies and free posters no one will want three months later. Even though there might be fewer comic panels at Wonder Con- Marvel had literally no presence- comics felt more important. Sometimes SD feels like it's full of people who only care about reselling exclusives and getting in line for free junk instead of exploring and seeing new things. At SDCC you even need to wait in a thirty minute line to buy the official con t-shirt, but I was able to walk right up to the booth and pay within five minutes here.
Don't get me wrong, I love SDCC, that's why I go every year, but I really do wish they would sell 20,000 fewer tickets. I never felt cramped on the exhibit floor or like I was in anyone's way when I stopped to look at something. The Anaheim convention floor is really nice, definitely better than the Los Angeles center that hosted the show last year (I was there for Stan Lee's Kamikazi once years ago). The exhibit hall is broken down into multiple wings and things were spead out really nicely. Whenever people wanted to snap pictures of their favorite cosplayers, they weren't causing a traffic jam or being bumped into on accident. Things were calm and coordinated. There's a section for buying comics and an even more particular area for browsing gold and silver age comics. None of the booths were a spectacle in of themselves like they are in San Diego though to be fair. There weren't any 12 ft Bumblebee statues and there wasn't even a Marvel booth, so I didn't have to worry about suffocating anytime a booth was randomly giving away free stuff.