On May 24, 2018, Megacon will return to the Orange County Convention Center for four days of celebrity guests, panels, cosplay, vendors, artists, authors, contests, and other events (such as film screenings, workshops, and seminars) related to all things pop culture. This year’s event has a few new tricks up its sleeve, so if you’ve considered going in the past, this might be the year to make the pilgrimage to Orlando, Florida!
A Star-Studded Lineup!
Even though we’re still over a month away from the convention, a great list of guests has been announced for MegaCon, including several mini-reunions of fan-favorite shows and movies. For example, Lucy Lawless and Renee O’Connor from Xena: Warrior Princess will be in attendance. Fans of The Princess Bride will be happy to know that Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon, and Wallace “Inconceivable!” Shawn will be in attendance, as well. There will also be multiple guests from The X-Files (Mitch Pileggi, William B. Davis, and Annabeth Gish) and Black Lightning (Cress Williams, Nafessa Williams, and China McClain). Wrestling (or sports entertainment if you’re Vince McMahon) fans will certainly get their fix, as well, as John Cena, Chris Jericho, Alexa Bliss, Shinsuke Nakamura, and Braun Strowman are all scheduled to appear.
Those guests are only the tip of the iceberg, as mega-stars Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park, Independence Day, and about 50 other blockbuster movies), Jason Momoa (Justice League), Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings trilogy), Charlie Cox (Netflix’s Daredevil), and Karl Urban (Star Trek and Thor: Ragnarok) will also be in attendance. These are just a few of the big names that will be at the event. If you’d like to see the complete roster of celebrities, they’re listed HERE.
Now, movie and television stars are great, but MegaCon also boasts a list of comic book artists and writers that are growing by the day. Big names such as artist and publisher Jim Lee, Deadpool creator Rob Liefeld, and artists J. Scott Campbell, Amanda Conner, and Neal Adams are already signed up, and more are certainly like to join them.
In addition to celebrity and comic book guests, MegaCon is sure to have a great group of cosplayers, voice actors, vendors, and authors. You can check out the entire lineup of attendees at MegaCon’s website, which you can access HERE.
A City Made for Fans of All Things Geek!
Not only is MegaCon a great event, but it’s being held in a pretty cool city, especially for geeks. The Orange County Convention Center is a quick drive from Walt Disney World (including The Magic Kingdom, EPCOT, Animal Kingdom, Hollywood Studios, AND the revamped Disney Springs), Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and Sea World. The venue’s also within walking distance to Dave and Busters, a Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum, WonderWorks, at least two escape room venues, the Orlando Eye (a giant Ferris wheel providing a view for miles), and several food and entertainment options to keep you busy after a day at the convention.
Hotel options are also plentiful, but since the convention is on a holiday weekend and the area is extraordinarily popular with tourists from all over the world, some planning and reservations are highly recommended. You can see a list of hotels associated with the event on MegaCon’s website HERE.
A New Competition to Crown a Cosplay Champion!
In addition to some new faces as far as celebrities and vendors go, there’s going to be a new event at this year’s MegaCon will feature the Master of Cosplay Grand Prix, a brand-new cosplay competition joining the lineup of programming at this year’s event. MegaCon Orlando will host the southeast qualifier on Saturday, May 26 during the convention.
Cosplayers from around the country have been competing in qualifying contests at multiple conventions including Fan Expo Dallas, Calgary Comic, and Entertainment Expo, and will continue in Fan Expo Boston. The last stop will be Fan Expo Canada in Toronto on Labor Day weekend (August 30 through September 2).
The southeast qualifier happening in Orlando consists of four divisions based on skill level and include the Masters’ Division, Journeyman Division, Novice Division, and Youth Division. Each division winner will receive a variety of prizes such as tickets to next year’s event to cash prizes. The grand prize winner will receive an all-expense-paid trip to Fan Expo Canada in Toronto to compete in the final round of the Master of Cosplay Grand Prix. During the final showdown, contestants from each of the qualifying rounds will compete for the ultimate prize of $5,000 and be crowned Fan Expo’s very first Master of Cosplay Champion.
You can learn more about the competition (and how to enter) on MegaCon’s website HERE.
What to Know Before You Go
Large conventions like MegaCon can be a blast, but they can also fall short of expectations if you don’t come prepared. It doesn’t take a lot of extra work; a little bit of planning goes a long way. Here are some pointers for having a great convention experience.
- Do a little homework. TripAdvisor can be your best friend when it comes to finding a hotel close to the venue. If you have a car and you don’t want to pay out the nose for parking, do a little research to find a hotel that doesn’t charge for it. Many hotels in Orlando charge both a parking fee and a non-optional resort fee that can be upwards of $25 a night. Do some research when booking rates and make sure you’re not paying $200 a night for a $120 room. Also, it wouldn’t hurt to make dining reservations if you plan on having a decent meal near the venue. There are many cool options in addition to your standard fare if you’re looking for something other than fast food.
- Bring some cash! Most celebrity guests only take cash for autographs and selfies at their tables. ATM machines typically run out of money sometime on Saturday, so you might be in trouble if you’re looking to get an autograph and you’re out of dough.
- Celebrities charge different prices and the convention has nothing to do with it. Some celebrities will autograph a picture and take a selfie with you for $30 total. Some will charge $30 for each one, totaling $60. Some won’t take selfies at all and will charge $80 for an autograph. Conventions are a big business and you might be disappointed at the prices of things. However, conventions don’t set the prices, the celebrities and/or their managers do.
- Cancellations are a fact of life. A good rule of thumb is to not just go to a convention for one person. For example, so many people get angry when a celebrity like Norman Reedus cancels an appearance and say, “That’s the only reason I was going!” Unfortunately, conventions make it very clear that cancellations happen and they won’t provide refunds in those cases (except if you buy photo ops or other packages related to that celebrity). So, if you’re going to attend, keep in mind that in addition to your favorite celebrity, there are a lot of great events, artists, vendors, and cosplayers that you can see.
- Plan your time well. If you want to get a dozen autographs and Jeff Goldblum and Elijah Wood are two of them, don’t plan on arriving at 2:00 on Saturday and getting everything you want to accomplish done. Odds are, if you like a celebrity, hundreds of other people are going to like that celebrity and his or her line will be long. These celebrities also have photo ops and panels to attend, and they also might want to eat or go the bathroom. In years past, Stan Lee’s line was long and slow from the beginning of the day to the end of the day. Just do some planning and you should be able to fit everything you want to do into the time you have.
- Bring some buddies. It’s always more fun to experience a con with friends. It also helps that they can hold your place in line, hold a table for you in the food court, and help you carry your purchases. It also helps that you have someone you trust to take pictures or watch your stuff. Overall, it’s just more fun (and a little safer) to travel with friends. It can also help offset the cost of hotel rooms and food.
- Remember that you’re in Florida…especially if you’re cosplaying! Some people don’t realize exactly how hot it is outside in Florida in May when they don that Chewbacca costume. If you’re going to wear a bulky costume, be sure to have plenty of water handy and take breaks frequently. As mentioned in the preceding tip, having a friend as your wingman/woman is also helpful for keeping you rested and hydrated during the long, hot Florida days.
- Try to attend more than one day. So many people only come to conventions on Saturdays because that’s the day most celebrities and other guests attend. While that’s true, it’s also the day that has the biggest crowds and longest lines. Try to attend on Friday and Saturday or Saturday and Sunday to have one day to take it a little easier. Friday’s a great day to hit some of the vendors, artists, and authors because the crowd is smaller and you can actually interact with them without having a sea of people bump into you.
- Remember the Golden Rule! When it comes to conventions, treat others as you’d like to be treated. Don’t get mad at people who spend a minute or two talking to a celebrity, especially if you’d like the same amount of time to interact with them. If someone needs help or directions, lend a hand. If someone needs to step out of line to use the restroom, offer to save their place. If someone needs a place to sit, offer a seat. 99 percent of folks at conventions are cool people. If you treat them the way you want to be treated, you might make a new friend or two. Being a jerk because a celebrity canceled, or something is more expensive than you thought isn’t going to help anyone, and it’s only going to ruin the convention for you and others. Have fun and be nice and others will do the same.
- Finally, cosplay is not consent. Yes, there are going to be very scantily clad women and men at MegaCon. That’s not an invitation to get handsy or creepy and treat cosplayers like pieces of meat. Don’t be afraid to approach cosplayers for pictures or autographs, but have respect and ask them first if you’re going to do something you think might be deemed inappropriate. Most cosplays love attention, but not all kinds of attention. Again, remember the Golden Rule and treat cosplayers with the respect with which you’d like to be treated.
Tickets to MegaCon, which is taking place from Thursday, May 24 to Sunday, May 27 can be purchased on the MegaCon website. The site also has great information about guests, events, and hotels in the area. You can buy tickets for individual days or packages that include cool perks like collectibles, discounts on convention merchandise, comics, and pre-sale access to special events. Check the website for additional information.
If you’re a pop culture fanatic, take a few days off work and make the trek to Orlando, Florida and get your geek on at the southeast’s biggest fan convention, MegaCon. You’ll have a blast, meet some cool people, pick up some cool swag, and have some great memories.