SDCC gets all the attention, it gets all the hype and deservedly so. But its little sister, WonderCon is a con that I think needs to get more recognition. As I’ve heard many people say and something I’ve said myself, WonderCon is almost like SDCC was about 10 years ago. When the event was still being held in San Francisco, I was still amazed to see that people, who regularly attended SDCC, did not know much about WonderCon. Maybe it was because of the fact that it was held in San Francisco. Even now I’ll get people saying they would like to attend SDCC for the first time and they don’t seem to want to listen to me when I tell them that they should go to WonderCon since it’s a lot easier and less stressful to acquire tickets and hotel rooms than SDCC. It’s a good con to sort of prepare yourself for SDCC. It hasn’t gone unnoticed by many of us though that since moving to Anaheim, it has gotten significantly more busier and crowded, although nothing quite like SDCC.
Several times during this year’s WonderCon, I came to the realization as to why I really loved WonderCon in Anaheim and that was the Anaheim Convention Center itself. It’s a great place to have a con. The pavilion and fountain area is probably one of my favorite things about the convention center. There is a sort of centralized area that at some point everyone will either pass through or hang out. How many times have you said to someone at SDCC “I’ll see you there”, and then not see them at all during the entire four days of SDCC because there really is not a centralized area where people just hang out. There are several ways to get to the convention center and of course the San Diego Convention Center is just a big place. At WonderCon, it’s so much easier to be able to meet friends. As a cosplay photographer, I can hang out in the fountain area all day and see a large percentage of the cosplayers who will attend the con. I also love how it is really easy to find quiet areas to do cosplay photo shoots without having to walk to far. I can’t count how many times I’ve seen some amazing cosplays at SDCC only to realize that the place I spotted them makes for a terrible photo either due to the crowds or lighting conditions. Usually at WonderCon I’m able to ask the cosplayer or cosplayers if I can reposition them to a better spot, which is usually pretty easy because that spot isn’t too far away.
As much fun as SDCC is, it also comes with its fair share of stress. Stress in getting a badge, stress in getting a hotel, stress in getting a parking spot if you are driving in, the crowds, and of course the lines… good god… the lines! I love how relaxed everything is at WonderCon. There doesn’t seem to be that sense of urgency to get lucky in some sort of lottery, or to spend all night sleeping on pavement… people just seem to be able to have more fun at WonderCon because they can just go and walk the floor, actually see people and friends they want to see, photograph all the cosplayers and then just go outside to the fountain area and people watch or grab food from a food truck. As much as I love SDCC, I’m beginning to really hate the process of walking from the convention center over to the gaslamp. It’s such a cluster fuck having to cross the street, and then cross the train tracks. Plus on the last day of SDCC as the con is about to close… holy shit does it take forever to cross over to the gaslamp.
Don’t get me wrong here, SDCC will always be one of the main highlights for me of the year and will be an event I will never miss… provided I’m able to secure badges and a hotel. But that doesn’t mean that SDCC doesn’t’ come with it’s share of issues. Any event that is that popular will always have things about it to dislike. But again, it’s SDCC. It is the king of cons. It has everything. I’ve seen some amazing cosplayers who I don’t normally get to see because they’ve flown over from various parts of the country to attend SDCC. Plus its really great how the gaslamp area gets in to the spirit of comic con giving the attendees even more to do during SDCC. Can’t forget about NerdHQ when talking about SDCC. Zachary Levi and The Nerd Machine started something when they decided to create an offsite location so that people could have a break from the craziness of the con to chill out, charge our phones, attend great panels while benefiting Operation Smile at the same time. Now there are several offsite locations from companies like IGN and Geek and Sundry.
People that know me have heard me say several times in the past that I want WonderCon to return to San Francisco… and my reason for that is that I love San Francisco and WonderCon gives me a reason to visit the city at least once a year. I’ve changed my mind. I love WonderCon at the Anaheim Convention Center. I love staying in a hotel that’s literally next door despite living 20 mins away. If WonderCon does return to San Francisco, I really hope that the people behind SDCC give some serious consideration to creating another con specifically for Anaheim, as its already proven that it’s a great place to have a con! Can’t wait for WonderCon 2015!