Or…..What NOT to Do When Going To Stan Lee’s Comicon

The husband and I are not new to the convention world, not by a long shot. However, yesterday, it seemed that we could do nothing right. You see it started earlier this month when it was announced that Cary Elwes was going to be a guest of honor. Princess Bride is my all time, hands down, favorite movie. It’s the movie I watch when I am sick when I feel the pressures of life weighing me down when I simply need to hear “As you wish.” Meeting Cary, the man in black himself, was a must. So, not wanting miss out, I pre-purchased our convention passes and my autograph ticket with Cary. Because that’s what you do when you want to avoid long lines and sell outs. Mistake number one, but more on that later.

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We intended on getting to the convention at 10am. The doors opened at 9 am but having spent the night before at an event with the 501st Legion there was no way we were going to be able to get up and out the door before 9.  All was going smoothly until the husband and I started discussing the finer points of Harry Potter and what to expect in the new movie when we realized that we had not only passed our exit but had driven right through downtown! Mistake number two.

We found our way to the convention and our thirty dollar parking space around 11 am.  That’s when mistake number one was realized. The line for those of us who thought ahead and bought our tickets online was out the door and around the block. However, if you got your ticket that day, onsite, you could walk right in. Ok, we got this. We thought as we went to get in line, it can’t be that bad…an hour and a half later we made it into the convention.

At this point in our story, it’s a quarter to one and all we wanted to do is meet Cary. Twice the event staff told us to just show our ticket at the booth and we would be fine. The blues-brothershusband and I weaved through the crowds of people like we were the Blues Brothers on a mission from God. Cary’s booth was in the center of what is called Autograph Alley. However, the banner was covered up and there was no sign in front of the queue. So, the husband and I paced back and forth about three times before we could find it (the one event staff member that we found didn’t even know who we were talking about). Finally, with great relief, we discovered his booth, which turns out was encased in an additional layer of curtains so the banner could not be seen.

But we found it! We made it to Cary Elwes’ booth. I was finally going to meet the Man in Black. All our troubles were over. I pulled out my electric bar code ticket from my phone and then was told “I am so sorry. We don’t work for the convention. We can’t scan that. If you go around the corner, to redeem it.” However, they did take cash, if you didn’t plan ahead like I did. I would like to add here that Cary’s staff was really awesome and told us to just come back to the front once I have my autograph ticket.

Alright, just a minor setback. It was only 12:30 and Cary would be there until 1pm. I could quickly run over to redeem my ticket and scurry back and not lose my place in line. I rallied and made my way to the autograph redemption area. You know that scene in A Christmas Story when Ralphie and his brother go to visit Santa and for a moment they get excited because they think the line isn’t that long until the nice gentleman points out that the line actually starts on the other end of the store…yeah, that was me when I saw the line for the ticket redemption.

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And now we come to mistake number 3. You see, someone in the planning department at Stan Lee’s Comicon thought it would be a good idea to lump the sales and autograph redemption together, in one line. Theoretically, this isn’t a bad thing but given that you have a maximum of four employees working at one time at a leisurely pace, with as many as two people stepping away from the window at a time for no particular reason other than to chat with their friends. Not a smart move with so many people in attendance.

An hour I waited. An hour in line as I watched the convention happen all around me because I tried to plan ahead. When I was finally released from the purgatory of Autograph/Sale Redemption it was a little after 1:30. He was coming back at 2:30 so I had an hour to be able to explore the convention floor while we waited. And then finally, at 2:30 on the dot, we get to the booth and his wonderful staff (have I mentioned how great his handlers were? Because they deserve all the thanks) let us come in the front of the line. And I finally got to meet Cary Elwes….and my day was complete.

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So, to sum it up, kids:

  1. Don’t pre-purchase your autographs for Stan Lee’s Comicon.
  2. Pre-purchase your convention tickets at your own risk.
  3. Get there early.
  4. Cash in hand wins the day. Especially with dealers, celebrities interactions and the like, all take cash.
  5. And most importantly, Cary Elwes and his handlers are awesome, kind people who really are in it for the fans.
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