This Year’s MegaCon is Shaping up to be Bigger and Better Than Ever!
Your (Con) Future is Whatever You Make It
“Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one.”DR. EMMETT BROWN, BACK TO THE FUTURE III
That wise quote, from Christopher Lloyd’s iconic character, Doc Brown, is not only a wise life lesson, but is doubly important when you’re planning on attending a comic convention. One thing I’ve learned after years attending various conventions is that conventions are whatever you make them; it’s up to you to make them good ones.
One of the keys to having a good time at a convention is to do your homework and have at least some semblance of a plan in place. That being the case, we’re offering up coverage well in advance of the May 16th start date of this year’s MegaCon. That way, you can gather information and devise a plan to help ensure that you have the best con possible.
So, dear reader, here’s everything you’ll need to have a great time at MegaCon 2019.
What is MegaCon?
MegaCon is the southeast’s largest fan convention, catering to fans of comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, video games, toys, tabletop gaming, and more. The family-friendly convention offers up a chance to meet celebrities; attend panels on a variety of subjects, from creating cosplay to writing your own comic book; play video games and tabletop games with other fans; compete in cosplay contests; commission artwork from a variety of artists; get a tattoo to show off your fandom; and buy great geeky gifts including rare comics and collectibles, shirts, action figures, and video games.
This year’s convention returns to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida and takes place from Thursday, May 16 through Sunday, May 19, 2019. Last year, more than 100,000 fans attended MegaCon and this year’s convention is shaping up to attract that many people, or more.
A City Built 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 (and EPCOT, and Animal Kingdom, and Hollywood Studios, and the revamped Disney Springs), Universal Studios and Islands of Adventure, and Sea World. The venue’s also 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 being help in an area that’s 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.
A Star-Studded Lineup
Even though the convention is still three months away, the roster of celebrities available for photos and autographs is already shaping up to be epic.
MegaCon will be reuniting the entire the Back to the Future cast including Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Tom Wilson, and James Tolkan. Other reunions include the cast of Boys Meet World (Danielle Fishel, Ben Savage, Will Friedle and Rider Strong) and the cast of Smallville (Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, and Kristin Kreuk). These casts will be available to meet and sign autographs, for photo ops, and in Q&A panels.
Other celebrity guests slated to appear include Zachary Levi (Chuck and Shazam!) Pamela Anderson (Baywatch), David Harbour (Hellboy, Stranger Things), Sean Astin (Goonies, Lord of the Rings), Mike Colter (Luke Cage), Mark Sheppard (Supernatural), Lana Parrilla (Once Upon a Time), Stephen Amell (Arrow Star), Kiefer Sutherland (The Lost Boys, Designated Survivor, 24), Tyler Hoechlin (SuperGirl, Teen Wolf).
You’ll be able to attend Q&A sessions with these celebrities and get autographs and professional photo ops with these superstars of television and movies. You can keep up with the celebrity guests that will be attending MegaCon (including those that have to back out due to scheduling or personal issues) at the MegaCon site’s Guest page, HERE.
More exciting celebrity appearances will be announced leading up to the event.
In addition to international actors, artists, and authors, you can also meet, chat with, and purchase works from local and up-and-coming cosplayers, artists, and authors.
One such author is Russell James, who will have copies of his latest novel, The Playing Card Killer, available for purchase. You can have copies of his new novel (and his other great novels, such as Q Island and Black Magic) autographed, and ask him questions about his career and his books. If you want to know a little about Mr. James before you meet him, you can read our interview with him HERE.
If you’d like a drawing of your favorite superhero, you can take a trip to MegaCon’s Artist Alley and talk to Florida-based artist Peter Smith. Peter interned at Marvel, has worked at Disney, and teaches art. He’s also worked on his own comic book, The Chronicles of Zelaria. You can meet and chat about art with Peter and commission drawings of characters ranging from Spider-Man to Lego Batman. You can learn more about Peter by reading our interview with him HERE.
Cosplayers run wild at MegaCon. It’s not odd to see Thor eating lunch with Master Chief or Deadpool posing for a picture with Batman and the Ghostbusters. Two Florida-based cosplayers that will be in attendance at this year’s MegaCon are Shellane and Dean Demarest of Cos a Commotion. Cos A Commotion is an interactive experience in entertainment. You can take pictures with Shellane and Dean as they cosplay characters based on Gotham and Guardians of the Galaxy with props and sets that make you feel like you’re in the characters’ worlds. We interviewed Shellane and Dean for GNN and you can read that interview HERE.
These are just a few of the great local artists who will be attending MegaCon. You can really get up close and personal with these folks, ask questions, take pictures, and share stories with them. The convention floor will be an intimidating place, so download the MegaCon app or visit the website for a copy of the floor plan so you can find these talented folks!
Tips for Having a Great Convention
With so much to see and do and so many people to meet and talk to, managing your time is critical to making the most out of your time at MegaCon. That being the case, here are some tips for enjoying MegaCon.
Do a little homework. In addition to the MegaCon website, 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 at the venue 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 $150 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 Michael J. Fox and David Harbour 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 particular 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. Thursdays and Fridays are great days 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 cancelled, 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.
Get Your Tickets (and Other Stuff)
MegaCon’s limited four-day passes and single-day tickets are available for purchase HERE starting at $20. A new youth ticket has been introduced for fans aged 13 to 17 years old. For a complete list of programming, guest announcements, and ticket options, visit MegaCon’s website.
You can also visit MegaCon’s website to purchase photo ops and tickets to special events, such as an evening with the cast of Back to the Future. You can like MegaCon on Facebook to be sure you have the most up-to-date information about the convention.
Keep Doc Brown’s advice in mind when it comes to attending MegaCon; the convention will be whatever you make it, so make it a good one. Unlike Doc Brown, you don’t have a time machine to go back and redo the convention if you miss a panel or forgot to bring your Back to the Future poster for Michael J. Fox to sign. So, do your homework, get everything in order, and keep yourself updated as the date approaches and you’ll be sure to have a great convention that you’ll remember for years to come.
If you have any questions about MegaCon or need advice about where to eat, where to stay, or what to do while you’re in Orlando, I’d be happy to answer it. Just leave a comment below or in Facebook under the article and I’ll get back to you. Have fun, fellow geeks!