ConnectiCon was the first convention I ever went to, back in 2007. I’ve been going sporadically since then and it’s interesting to see how the con evolves from year to year. There were some major organizational changes this year, some for the better and some for the worse. If you’re considering going to CTCon next year take a look at the way things were run, though keep in mind it could be completely different next time, as the organizers see what worked and what didn’t.
Food — This year, food was cheap, varied, and plentiful thanks to the organizers of the Riverfront Food Truck festival, who chose to line their event up with Connecticon. Just a short walk outside the con doors were trucks selling everything from Chinese/Thai food, to pizza, to Mexican food, with meals ranging $5-$10. There was also a Subway sandwich shop in that area, and several restaurants/pubs across the street. I still remember in the past having to walk multiple blocks in the rain to Burger King one year (though that was because we didn’t make time to eat until late at night after the dealers room stopped serving food). Eating was quick and convenient this year and right in the midst of a bunch of pokecenters so you could still geek out while you chowed down and not feel like you were missing a chunk of the con while you went to eat.
Celebrity Access — I was afraid that I would have to deal with huge crowds and long lines to see the two LOTR actors that were guests this year, John Rhys-Davies (Gimli) and Sean Astin (Sam Gamgee) but I managed to catch them when their autograph lines were short and painless. They each had multiple autograph sessions and photo sessions throughout the weekend, so there wasn’t a giant rush for each appearance. I stood on line for 5-10 minutes each and they both had time to have a short conversation with me. (Read my CTCon Highlights post to see what we talked about).
Super friendly and helpful staff — see my transportation anecdote in the con section below.
Registration Line — Thank goodness (and Dalin) that I was able to get in as Press! My friends stood in line for two and a half hours on Friday morning to get their badges, even though they preregistered. The pre-reg and regular registration lines were pretty much the same length (aside from at the front, they were really just one line) so the only advantage to preregistering was the lower price. CTCon has been known for long registration lines in the past (especially the year Vic Mignogna came), but last year was much smoother than this year.
No printed schedule — The only way to view the schedule of events for the weekend was to download the Gather app, or access the con’s website. I thought they might have made the transition to paperless for environmental reasons, but they still printed out booklets just as thick as always, but with less useful information (though the bus map in the booklet ended up being pretty helpful). I definitely prefer having the paper schedule over having to use up space on my phone with a new app. Also, for some reason, on my phone the app required me to turn on Bluetooth, though this didn’t happen to my friends.
Limited Entrances — there were certain doorways in the convention center that you were only allowed to exit out of but not re-enter through. I understand that the con was trying to manage the flow of people and prevent lobby-con-ers (people who don’t buy tickets and just hang out in the lobby) but it seemed like such a minor thing for them to focus on when they had larger organizational issues. And it got kind of frustrating to have to go all the way around the building every time I went outside and wanted to come back in.
Off-Premises Venues — CTCon tried a new thing this year: an attempt to expand the con into a city-wide event. The convention center itself closed earlier than in past years (at 9pm, rather than 10 or 11) and evening events were held at various taverns, movie theaters, etc., around town. As always, when trying something new, there were unforeseen issues. Two out of three of the off-premises shows I went to started an hour later than scheduled. There were some major technical difficulties such as one of the bars not providing speakers for a music performance, and the projector turning on in the middle of the burlesque at the movie theater. If the con plans to do this next year, I would definitely recommend budgeting more time to deal with these issues before the audience shows up. Some of the venues were right across the street from the convention center, but others were about a 15-minute walk away. Which brings us to…
Transportation — There were Dash buses provided to take con-goers from the Con Center to these other locations (for free!) but they could be a little confusing or intimidating to non-locals. I was so nervous about ending up stranded alone in Hartford (none of my friends were interested in seeing Psyche Corp with me, but I wouldn’t miss it) that I kept pestering the con staff until they walked me through it. In fact, that same staff member happened to be going to set up the venue just as I got off the bus and walked me to the bar. Thanks Mystery Man! (I’m sorry I forgot to look at your name tag.) Upon leaving the performance, I couldn’t get my bearings to get back to the bus stop. Conveniently two more staffers were walking by, and I asked where it was. As they just kept confusing themselves when trying to give directions, they decided to walk me all the way back to the convention center. So, while the transportation system was a little daunting , the awesome staff made up for it, at least for me.
What did you think of the organization aspect of the con? Was it better or worse than in past years or than other cons you’ve been to? Let us know in the comments!