Bleh

Montreal Comic Con was a complete bust. A completely aggravating experience.

I wanted to get my ticket early, but that required printing out the ticket and I don’t have a working printer at home. Given that admission was a painless process last year, I figured it wouldn’t be such a bad thing to show up without a pre-paid ticket.

Last year I showed up around opening time on Saturday, waited in a fast-moving line for about fifteen to twenty minutes, and went straight in.

This year I showed up around opening time on Saturday, waited in a fast-moving line for 30 minutes, and then waited in the same line, but at a snail’s pace, for an hour and a half. At that point some Con-employees could be seen and heard wandering the line (not near where I was) telling people the con was sold out. They didn’t come to where I was, and word didn’t spread from the front of the line but from the back, so those of us in the front quarter of the line were left wondering if we were wasting our time or not. I should qualify all this by saying that last year’s line had about 350 people in it by my rough guess. This year’s line easily held 2,500 at an absolute minimum.

Given the fact that after the ticket line, they made you wait in a second line to get into the convention, I’m assuming the change from fast-moving ticket line to slow-moving ticket line came as a result of the hall filling up and preventing them from letting anyone else in. I’d have to talk to someone who did both lines to confirm, but I’m guessing this meant they were selling admission to people but not allowing them entry (I’m guessing for an hour or possibly more) into the event that they’d just paid to access, which is a pretty shitty thing to do.

I gave up. The admission line wasn’t moving. I guessed at this point that they were waiting for people to leave the con so that they could admit other people from the line who had already paid, which would allow them to sell more tickets, which would allow those lucky few to wait in the next line. I’d already wasted two and a half hours of my day, I didn’t feel like wasting two more because that would have put me at the point where I’d have spent more time waiting in line for the con than I spent in the con itself. I cut my losses and went home to spend some time with my kids, which I consider to be time much better spent.

The con organizers went out of their way to bring in a whole pile of marquee guests, they clearly made a huge effort to make the con a much bigger event than it was last year. Having planned all of that, how could they possibly have been surprised when the con turned out to be a much bigger event than last year? I’m absolutely amazed that plans weren’t made LONG ago to get a location capable of handling four or five times the number of attendees from last year.

From what I’ve heard, last year’s con drew 5,000 attendees, though I don’t know if those were all in one day. From what I’ve heard from people who were there today, the con was jam-packed with about 10,000 people, which is nowhere near enough to accommodate properly for growth from last year, they should have planned for 15 to 20 thousand, and if there’s room to breathe then there’s room to breathe. I know halls cost money and they didn’t want to take a loss, but there were 2,500 people at a minimum who didn’t get a chance to pay their $25 today, not to mention others who planned to come later on and simply left. That’s a lot of money to go towards paying for a hall. And there are 2,500+ people today whose only memory of Comic Con is a stupidly long line and a trip back home, word of mouth might hurt this convention in the future, and they’ll need to explain how they plan to do better next year.

All I know is that if I decide to go next year (should they decide to run it again), I’ll make sure to have bought my ticket in advance, and I’ll still show up early enough to make the most of it. I’ll also try and show up with other people. If I do have to wait in a line, having someone there would help pass the time.

What a waste, and I was really looking forward to it.

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2 responses to “Bleh

  • Tobin Elliott

    Mike, your experience sounds identical to the FanExpo in Toronto. Here’s the secret…find one of the booths looking for volunteers. Yes, it means you’re working for part of the day, but you escape the hassle of lines and your admission is free. It’s what’s kept me sane for the 6 or so years I’ve done FanExpo.

  • mlorenson

    That’s a thought, but it would require finding someone in need of volunteers to begin with, and probably would entail my being there for all or most of both days. It’s something to consider, though.

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