Pros and Cons of ConnectiCon 2016–On How the Con was Run This Year

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.

Pro:

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.

CTconFood

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.

Con:

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.

ctconrussianladyOff-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!

Advertisements

6 thoughts on “Pros and Cons of ConnectiCon 2016–On How the Con was Run This Year

  1. The con was great! Though I didn’t know about the free buses and I was kinda beat for more walking otherwise I would have checked out some of those farther out events. I also didn’t hear anything about the food arrangements. They definitely sound better, but I didn’t see any signs about them so I missed those too. Any idea where they post these things, I didn’t see anything in the app or on their website.

    1. The buses I found out about by asking the staff during the event. They also were in the packet you get near registration. I knew about the food trucks from a friend who lives in the area and saw them there last year. Also, if you wandered around outside the convention center much, you might see them. But you’re right, neither of these things seemed to be on the website. The food trucks were technically an unaffiliated event, but the bus arrangements should definitely have been on there.

    2. I enjoyed it for my 4th year going. I was pre-registered, so me and my crew were able to come in Thursday to get our badges. It was after 4 when we got in, so I was thinking we may have had a wait on our hands. Oddly enough, we were in and out in under 30 minutes! Maybe we were just lucky, but Ive never gotten my badge so fast, so whatever they’re doing to keep the process smoother, they’re doing it right.

      You would only know about the food truck festival if you were a local, and CtCon weekend is also a very busy weekend for the area. Actually there was supposed to be another event taking place in the area called “RiverFest” with fireworks on Saturday night. Its been a local tradition for years, the food truck festival is actually in its 2nd year. However, due to some budget issues the city had to cancel it. (The city poured all its money into a new ballpark that no one is using and is causing controversy, but that’s a whole other issue)
      Anyway, I did enjoy the con, though not too many panels caught my interest this year. Though that’s through no fault of the con, just personal taste. At least I got plenty of floor time. I also didnt care for the panel-less guidebook though. Although I didnt see alot of panels for me to worry about what event was when, its still nice to have a hard copy around. My phone wouldnt download it but it was on my tablet, but I didnt want to bring my tablet around and have extra weight. DeathMatch this year was a slam dunk as always, and I hope they stick with having the zombies around to clean up the mess lol.
      As for the offsite partying, I didnt care for it. It was alright, but I much prefer the ballroom right next to the convention center for the “informal dance”. Going into the city isnt bad if you’re a local, but I can understand the concerns of those coming from out of town and are unfamiliar with Hartford. The city is a little sketchy and is best to be with company. What did irk me was on Saturday night at “The Club” venue.

      What do you mean no free water?

      On Friday night, we were given free cups of water or $3 bottles. Everywhere there were cups. Saturday though? Just $3 bottles. You mean to tell me that in an environment where everyone is hot and sweaty and dancing everywhere, you can’t open the faucet and give someone a cup of water? I can understand selling soda, but WATER??? I can assure you that there were very very very few bottles around. Sorry, but I refuse to pay $3 for just a regular sized bottle of water. That is insane to me, but even more insane to not fill up a cup of water to someone who’d been dancing for an hour and is sweating their fluids out.

      Despite that, 7/10 would go again. CtCon is the only con I go to where I don’t have to stress about transportation or lodging, since I live literally 10 minutes away. Its a pretty chill con, and I love how its getting bigger each year. Im pretty pleased with their registration process, and hopefully next summer I’ll see more panels that catch my interest. I just hope they’ll do a little better with their off site venue parties.

    3. http://www.riverfront.org/events/riverfest

      This is where the city plans for events right on the riverfront. We were supposed to have a RiverFront festival this year with CtCon and the food trucks (and fireworks!) but was canceled due to budget cuts. This is a yearly thing, and is usually run side by side with CtCon. This is actually the 2nd year with food trucks. If you’re back next year, the city plans on bringing it back again. Its quite a bit of fun.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s