With con season really gearing up and coming into full swing, it was incredibly nice to start it off with a hometown convention near and dear to a lot of hearts. Phoenix Fan Fusion has always been one of my favorite conventions, and this year was no exception. Save a few snags throughout the weekend, this year was everything anyone could’ve hoped for as far as a smooth con experience goes.
Let’s kick it off with the positive takeaways from this year’s festivities! After the issues of the past with security checkpoints and prop checks, it seemed that both the con staff as well as convention center staff worked out (most) of the kinks the previous two years had to make getting into the convention as seamless as it could’ve been. It didn’t take more than a few minutes to get through the security checkpoints, which was a much-welcomed change from the previous year’s long entry lines. The metal detectors seemed to help speed up the entry process, and not many people I spoke to had too many issues with prop check either.
Once inside the convention, there was no shortage of sights to behold to tickle the fancy of nerds of all creeds. From the cars on display just outside the security lines to the multitude of fantastic cosplayers getting pictures snapped or just enjoying a Mustache Pretzel – not to mention the fantastic weather this year blessed us with – just entering the street level got you pumped for what waited inside! I will say that this year seemed a bit slower than others, as it didn’t seem like there were as many foot traffic backups on any of the floors for the most part. Don’t get me wrong… it was nice not being sardined on the escalators or spending half the day just getting from one end of the vendor hall to the other, but it definitely seemed like the attendance had lowered compared to previous years.
For the majority of the weekend, the Hall Of Heroes seemed to be the place to be – whether you knew the cosplay guests, or were waiting in line for those sweet, sweet signings with the celebrity guests. The addition of adding more vendor stalls to the 3rd floor seemed to also help lessen the space shortage in the vendor hall, making it easier to shop and enjoy all of the fantastic artists this year had to offer. Overall, the positives this year did outweigh the negatives, for me at least. However, spending time with all my friends with the availability of some quality adult beverages from local breweries was also an added bonus that made the entire weekend one to remember.
Speaking of the negatives, though, let’s touch a bit on that subject. For me, one of the biggest let downs was that it seemed like there were fewer events happening at not only the convention center but the surrounding hotels as well. Advertising for a lot of the events was pretty much left up to the people holding the events, however, the reach could’ve possibly been a bit more expanded if there had been a bit more involvement from the con itself. Maybe I just didn’t see it, but it just felt like there was a little less to do this year than in the past.
The consistent complaint from most people was also the long food truck lines, or how expensive it was to eat at the con in general. This forced a lot of people to go off-site for lunch or dinner which, though probably great for the surrounding restaurants, took away the ease and convenience of eating at the con itself after an already exhausting day of walking. It would have been nice to get a nice, quick boost before rallying into the evening for late night panels or events.
Really, though, if we compare all the pros and cons side by side, it was overall the best version of a Phoenix comic convention since the name change. The weather was perfect, there were so many great vendors and artists I couldn’t even see all of them in all 4 days of attendance, and spending the weekend with friends and even like-minded strangers was a welcome reprieve from the monotony of the 9 to 5 grind. I will say, however, the best part about this convention (hands down) was the security guard inside the door of the North building who gave everyone high fives and genuinely seemed so stoked on his job and making sure everyone passed into the con with a smile from his infectious attitude. That dude was the real MVP, and here’s to hoping he’s there next year to make 2020 Phoenix Fan Fusion even better than this year!
*Check out the full photo gallery of the event HERE!