In this article, Josh and Violet each share their reflections on this year’s WonderCon, as well as their thoughts about WonderCon moving to Los Angeles next year!
WonderCon Anaheim 2015
So, now that WonderCon is over, I wanted to reflect on it, this now being our fourth year. I have always been really excited for the new movie news we would be getting at both San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon. That at first was a big reason I would want to go. When the 2015 WonderCon schedule was released, I was initially pretty disappointed. There was almost no big studio representation this year!
Fast-forward to actually going to WonderCon, when I actually got to the Convention Center, I realized this would be a lot more fun than I originally thought it would be. WonderCon and any of these types of Cons is a lot of like-minded individuals together, sharing common interests. Not to mention getting to see all of the awesome cosplay, and art that is literally walking around you.
It is also great to not feel as pressured as you would feel in the behemoth that Comic-Con is. If you want to get into the big panels at Comic-Con, you nearly have to sell your soul to the devil for that weekend, and by the end, you feel like you could die. While that is a very rewarding experience, at the same time, I am not sure I can handle that kind of pressure multiple times a year. Once in July is enough for me. WonderCon, while extremely busy this year, didn’t feel “impacted” to the point of having to line up several hours beforehand just to get into a panel you wanted to be in. The one exception seemed to be for signing drawings, but luckily I was not too interested in that.
Since WonderCon wasn’t overwhelmingly packed, Violet and I were able to move about the Con to whatever panels we really wanted to attend. If you read through our reviews of the weekend, you will see we moved from smaller rooms, to the Exhibit Hall, to the Arena, and back out again.
But as I said earlier, WonderCon is getting busier. A few years ago, if you were to ask me who should attend these types of Cons, I would probably have had a much more limited audience in mind–people who love comic books, comic book movies, or other traditional “nerdy” hobbies. While the demographic has been shifting for quite a while in who attends these types of Cons, I think this year is the year I really noticed it. I noticed a ton of different of people from different “archetypes” of life attending this year. I mean, I seemed to notice a whole lot more families attending WonderCon this year than last year, with little kids, and even babies too.
Overall, I have come to appreciate WonderCon a lot more this year. If you were to ask me now if you should come to WonderCon next year, I would say if you appreciate anything at all about comics, science fiction, TV shows, movies, board games, video games, costuming, or other various creative processes in these sort of veins, you can probably find something to do at WonderCon.
The Move to Los Angeles
Next year’s WonderCon has been announced to take place at the Los Angeles Convention Center. This had lead to much speculation about the reason why, but I think it is a pretty straightforward reason—Anaheim is currently being expanded, and as David Glanzer has said, there isn’t enough room in Anaheim for the dates that WonderCon is normally booked.
There are some theories that this move is a “test run” for Comic-Con moving to L.A. While I am sure Comic-Con International is looking at different venues to move their behemoth of a convention to, I am skeptical. Here are a couple reasons why.
Firstly, WonderCon 2016 will not be until next year. Looking online, it looks like San Diego Convention Center has Comic-Con there for 2015 and 2016, but 2017 is where it is still up in the air. I have my doubts that this plus the knowledge of WonderCon moving to L.A. for 2016 means that WonderCon will be a test run for ComicCon come 2017. My gut says that David Glanzer will know where Comic-Con will take place in 2017 before WonderCon 2016 is over. Considering it is public knowledge that Comic-Con was renewed for 2016 in San Diego, and that’s still well over a year away, I am sure David Glanzer and the San Diego Convention Center had that worked out quite a bit before the general public knew what was going, which will be the same case for 2017 when whatever venue is decided for that year.
The second reason I am not willing to buy this, is I would think that Comic-Con International/David Glanzer could figure out if Los Angeles would be a suitable venue for their event, without having to do a “test run.” Does the L.A. Convention Center have a big exhibit floor? Are their suitable rooms for the big panels such as Hall H and Ballroom 20? Are there enough smaller rooms to accommodate all of the other panels? Is there enough parking for everyone? Is there enough room for the foot traffic that Comic-Con entails? Is the move to Los Angeles financially feasible for Comic-Con International? All of these questions can be answered without a “test run.” And let’s face it; unforeseeable problems with Comic-Con at the Los Angeles Convention Center won’t come to light until the convention actually exhibits there. While WonderCon is growing, it is not as big or as intense as Comic-Con is. Not to mention the number of problems that still occur in San Diego despite it having been there for practically ever.
WonderCon moving to Los Angeles seems to just be a logistical move. It may return to Anaheim in 2017 once the construction is hopefully completed, or maybe it will find a third new home in Los Angeles. I mean, Anaheim is the bigger convention center on the west coast, so putting a large con like WonderCon there makes sense, if you want the most space to use. The other reason could be that Anaheim and Comic-Con had a difference in opinion on some matters, such as financial reasons, and Comic-Con International thought it would be best to move on.
Personally, I think that moving WonderCon to Los Angeles is a little bit of a bummer, but only because Anaheim is about 15 minutes from where I live. I am not too concerned about it, as I will still be going, and having a great time there.
So to wrap my thoughts up, I think I have made clear: I doubt this move will have any bearing on the location of Comic-Con in 2017. Comic-Con could remain in San Diego, it could move to Los Angeles, or possibly move to Anaheim given that Anaheim can ensure the construction will be completed by July of 2017. WonderCon 2016 in Los Angeles will have little bearing on where Comic-Con winds up, and I even think that David Glanzer and the SDCC decision makers will probably want to keep the cons separated. You would get a bit of a different local crowd doing so.
WonderCon Anaheim 2015
I’ll admit, I was a little underwhelmed when I first saw the schedule for WonderCon this year, what with Warner Bros. being the only major movie studio with a panel this year. Then later, when that one hour panel was reduced to a half hour panel, things were looking pretty disappointing, especially compared to the Saturday Arena panels last year and the past few years. It was also odd that the first Saturday Arena panel didn’t start until 1:00pm! Where was Fox this year? It felt like there should have been something before the Warner Bros. panel.
But you know what? This lack of scheduling actually ended up being a good thing. It allowed us to be able to go to other panels that we were interested in, but wouldn’t have been able to go to otherwise. The past couple of years, we had spent our Saturday mornings in line for the Arena for about 2-3 hours before the first panel was scheduled to start, because of the fact that such huge panels were scheduled, and we wanted to ensure a spot in those panels. But this year, we were able to go to two panels (Superman: The Richard Donner Years Celebrity Reunion and Felicia Day) before we even headed over to the Arena. And we only walked into the Arena about 15 minutes before the Warner Bros. panel started.
I must say that it was a relief to be able to easily bounce around between panels that were in different rooms, and not feel the pressure to line up super early for everything, or feel the need to camp out in a room to secure a spot. I think the earliest we lined up for a panel or went into a room before our desired panel started was about 30 minutes. I would equate the Arena with Hall H at San Diego Comic-Con, and Room 300AB and Room 300DE with Ballroom 20. We went back and forth between the 300 rooms and the Arena quite a few times throughout the day on Saturday. To do this with Hall H and Ballroom 20 at Comic-Con would be impossible. So it was nice that WonderCon afforded the ability to go back and forth between rooms, rather than force you to make a choice of one room and stick with it all day.
On the other hand, I do feel like the schedule this year was a little light overall, and was lacking in star power. Several of the panels were missing their star character, such as San Andreas didn’t have Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Orphan Black was missing Tatiana Maslany, and Barry Allen himself, Grant Gustin, was absent from The Flash panel. I think this has to do with WonderCon being held on Easter weekend, which seems like it hurts the attendance of talent who otherwise would have been there. Indeed, at the Superman: The Richard Donner Years Celebrity Reunion panel, Richard Donner sent over a special video message, and in that message he said he would have been at the panel if it hadn’t been Easter weekend.
In any case, I did have a fun time at WonderCon, and it was nice to experience a more laid back atmosphere than that of San Diego Comic-Con, but still have major panels with well-known actors. Despite the absence of Grant Gustin from The Flash panel, I have to say that it was my favorite panel of the weekend. The actors on the panel were really great, and funny, and actually revealed a lot more information about what’s to come than I would have guessed! You could also tell that the audience was really into the show by their reactions, and by the fan questions. It seems like so many people really love the show, and that it’s only going to get bigger.
The Move to Los Angeles
Then Sunday night at the Talk Back panel, the news was announced that WonderCon would be taking place in Los Angeles in 2016. My first reaction was disappointment. We’ve been going to WonderCon every year since it came to Anaheim in 2012, and it’s really convenient for us being that we live just 15 minutes away in Fullerton, and can just take streets there, not having to worry about any traffic. It has become familiar territory for us. Even if we didn’t live so close, it’s a great setting, especially with the fountain out in front, which is a nice place to congregate and for cosplayers to take photos in front of. I have been to the Los Angeles Convention Center for Stan Lee’s Comikaze the past couple of years, and I’m not sure where such congregating would take place there.
My next reaction was a more positive one, thinking that maybe with WonderCon being in Los Angeles, perhaps it would attract more celebrities to the convention, since it would be closer for those that live in LA. I also thought that maybe this could mean different dates for WonderCon, so that it would no longer be on Easter Weekend, and that this combination of more convenient dates and being a more convenient location for the stars, that WonderCon could have a higher caliber of panels. But then it was soon announced that WonderCon 2016 would take place March 25-27, Easter weekend once again, so that was a little disappointing. I am also a little bit worried with oversaturation, being that Comikaze 2015 takes place at the same location just a few short months before WonderCon 2016, and is a show in a very similar vein.
People have also theorized that this move is so that CCI can test out Los Angeles Convention Center as a possible move for San Diego Comic-Con, but personally, I don’t think that’s the case. I think it was simply that due to the construction going on at the Anaheim Convention Center, that CCI was unable to secure the dates that they wanted, just like they said. The contract with LACC is only for one year, so it is entirely possible that WonderCon could move back to Anaheim in 2017, which I hope it does. But then, tell that to San Francisco area residents who are still hoping for WonderCon to return after its move from that city to Anaheim a few years back, also due to construction.
In any case, the WonderCon’s move to Los Angeles is not going to affect whether or not we go. It’s still quite close to where we live, so we’ll definitely be there. If it ends up staying there, it’s not a big deal to us, since we don’t really have to travel a great distance it get there. It’s just a minor inconvenience to have to deal with Downtown LA traffic. I am curious as to how the vibe will change with the change of venue, though, and whether the number of badges available will change. Next year’s WonderCon will be interesting, that’s for sure.