I purchased my Maisie Williams photo-op and weekend pass together. When I wanted to go back and purchase the Jason Momoa photo-op after securing a Dany costume, I couldn't purchase a photo-op alone online. Stephen said, "It's an annoying limitation that we are experiencing with the ticketing system. The only way to purchase the photo-op would be to purchase it in conjunction with a general admission purchase. So, if you wanted to purchase it in advance you'd have to buy an additional pass and then you could send us the confirmation # for that purchase, and we'd instruct the ticketing agency to refund you for the cost of the pass (I was told it usually takes 3-5 business days to show up)."
- THE HOTEL
When we got to the front desk to check in the woman immediately saw two of us and said "Well, we don't have on file that you requested a king bed, but we're going to give you a free upgrade to one of our corner rooms on the 22nd floor" before I even said a word to her beyond my name. For the record, I specifically booked a king bed... Our room had two pretty amazing views, being on the corner, however the two double beds were too small to share because the bed sheets barely went over the edge of the bed. With even one person under the sheets, they were pulled up onto the mattress. In addition, a $50 per night lean was placed on my card by the hotel, making me unable to purchase anything at the con. :(
The hotel had a very nice pool area, particularly when we visited during our evening exploration. The water was illuminated blue and reminded me of the tesseract, haha. We walked across the street (and super cool trolley tracks) to the convention center to check out the area, and saw through the windows where we would pick up our pre-purchased entry badges. From there, we went to the Embassy Suites to check out the official convention hotel. It was pretty spectacular and I wanted to shoot Dany pictures in the lobby. I liked their lobby a lot better than the Marriott's.... but for a room rate twice as high... we did the fiscally responsible thing by going with Marriot.... except for the $22 per night parking... and the $15 per night wireless internet... James bought the internet on Saturday night because we were so tired and the lobby internet that we had sampled Friday evening was horribly slow.
From day to day we kept a "Do Not Disturb" sign on our door because we actually didn't want a housekeeper to come in and potentially move/fiddle with our costumes, props, and wigs.
- FRIDAY, AUGUST 23, 2013
On Friday, James and I ate breakfast at the Starbucks inside the Embassy Suites lobby before getting ready. My shoes kept slipping off, so I used duct tape to hold them onto my heels. We kept looking out the window for signs of cosplayed life at the convention center, but didn't see anyone. A little nervous, we finally made our way over. The Marriott workers and guests gave us a lot of weird looks for the most part. Actually we didn't see a single other cosplayer at the Marriott until we were leaving on our final day and a woman dressed as a pirate was also having her car brought around. ANYWAY....
We went over and there were very few people around. VERY few. We got our "3 Day Nerd-A-Thon" wrist bands (yuck) very quickly and the woman was really nice. She asked if my wig was my real hair (the first of many people to ask this question). When we walked in towards the con hall, we were directed by a convention center security guard who didn't know who we were but said we looked "classy."
Getting into the hall we were asked by one person for a picture. We posed and all of a sudden there was a whole swarm of people taking our picture. Some people had no idea who I was. One person said to James, "Oh, you brought a pin-up girl!" and I gave him an exasperated look, replying, "I'm Peggy Carter."
About an hour in I felt like my heels were on fire and told James I needed to go sit down because I wasn't going to be able to walk. We sat and I took my shoes off. Kids, never put tape on your skin unless you're 100% positive it's safe. The tape that I thought was duct tape was actually Gorilla tape and it has chemically eaten holes in my heels. James and I walked back to the hotel - me hobbling and barefoot because I couldn't put my shoes back on. Too painful. For the record, I am a very lucky girl because James allows me to have one medical emergency per con :P
Back in our room, we took off pieces of our costumes and I put on flip flops. We then proceeded to walk about 13 minutes to the nearest Publix (on Bayshore) to try and get me some medical supplies to mend and protect my poor feet. They didn't have everything, but we did pick up some yummy sandwiches for later. From there we walked another 6-ish minutes to the Walgreen's on W Platt for extra supplies that Publix didn't have. We passed a cute looking pub called Four Green Fields and both agreed that we should try and eat there if we got a chance because it looked pretty awesome.
Finally, we made it back to the hotel and James bandaged up my feet. Putting shoes back on was miserable, but I did it. This time I used spirit gum to hold my feet in the shoes. Safe, but a little yucky. We walked (I hobbled) back over to the convention center and we went down to Samantha Petrone's Costuming Panel. It was pretty much and open discussion where someone would ask a question about costumes/props/supplies/construction/etc and she would answer but anyone else who knew or had ideas/suggestions also contributed.
All in all, the con was very slow on Friday. We did multiple laps around the convention center and vendor hall, even with leaving for a few hours to take care of my feet.
- SATURDAY, AUGUST 24, 2013
Day two at Tampa Bay Comic Con was a mess. There was only one line for con-goers to get their wrist bands, pre-purchased or not. That line was 3 hours long. A good portion of that 3 hour line was outside in the direct Florida sun. I felt awful for all the folks standing out there for hours.
The first thing we did in the morning was head over to the Film-making for the Average Joe panel. We got there early and the folks running the panel were playing some of their own projects on the projection screens. I was expecting something more professional so we left before the panel actually started. From there, we discovered we had to go outside and walk (hobble) back up all the stairs to get back inside to the con because the only working escalator was being used for the line to purchase/pick up passes. I have no idea how guests in wheelchairs or with strollers were able to make it upstairs. Someone with a stroller actually asked us if we knew where they were supposed to go, but we told them we didn't know. :(
Back upstairs, we ran into friends Markus and Andrea Zimmerman who were promoting their amazing upcoming pub - The Cloak & Blaster. (Seriously, it's going to be awesome.) We wandered around with them and I handed out some flyers as people asked for photos. I saw an infant dressed as Thor and was pretty much the happiest person in the world when little Thor's daddy asked to get a picture of me and James on either side of the stroller. At some point, a cosplayer who was a bit too into character came up and asked me if he could buy one of my kidneys. I turned around and walked away when he tried to continue after I said "No, thank you." He was too much for me.
We ended up going to lunch down the street at Hattricks Tavern and played Zombie Dice while we waited for our food. We passed the ever growing line on our way outside and I couldn't believe there wasn't a better way chosen to get people their passes. Send out the badges in advance to people who pre-purchased! New York Comic Con is proof of that method being a success. I should also work in that the people manning the vendor hall door didn't even look at my wrist band when I walked in on Saturday. It was totally pushed up inside my sleeve and they let me in without even asking to have a look.
James and I parted ways with Markus and Andrea when it was time for Cosplay Contest line-up. It was such a bad experience that I don't think I'll ever compete in one again. It was very disorganized and we barely fit inside. There were no places for people competing to sit and nobody was standing in any sort of order. When our names were called, James and I had to fight our way through the crowd in the back of the room where I was getting more and more claustrophobic. I was too short to see over the crowd where we were supposed to walk up onto the stage from and, rather then backtrack to that point and make the whole thing take even longer, James and I just walked across the floor in front of the stage. We got a lot of applause, which was nice. Then we had to stand in another corner and wait for them to call up the rest of the contestants.
I found James and I seats in the 2nd row off to the side, and sitting was such a relief on my feet that were still in a great deal of pain. The contestant calling was never-ending. I think they let too many people participate. Honestly, I feel like there should've been a prejudging for the contest, with only the top 20 or something being announced and called up to walk across the stage, followed by the prize announcements. I think prejudging would've also prevented something that I found pretty awful from happening.
During the contest, a guy cosplaying Theon Greyjoy walked up on stage and pulled a fake penis out of his pocket, holding it up for everyone to see. That room was FULL of kids. After the contest, I saw him taking pictures with some guy pretending to put it in his mouth. He had the nerve to tell me to get in for a picture when I told him he was being inappropriate. There were horrified parents sitting all around me. I'm an adult with no kids and I was horrified. Apparently, the con staff "called to have him removed from the convention." I hope that information is true, but I feel like there should've been a greater punishment for him.
After the contest, they made everyone exit the room for the upcoming Game of Thrones panel. The line was so long that James and I couldn't get in after staying for the costume contest. It sucked, because we had great seats in the second row and were told we had to leave. I'm making a big deal out of this here, because it becomes a bigger deal on Sunday. Anyway, James and I decided to cut our losses and head back to the hotel for the evening.
We went to dinner at the Marriott lobby sports bar and discovered that the person a few tables over was a Celebrity guest from Power Rangers. Not Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, though, so we didn't recognize him.
- SUNDAY, AUGUST 25, 2013
Sunday was the day that I had been simultaneously looking forward to and absolutely dreading. My friend, Aubree, lent me her beautiful Dany costume (all the way from Canada) and I wanted everything to be perfect for the photo ops. I spent hours wefting extra hair into the wig and brushing out the weft tangles. The wig went back to her with a lot of tears mixed in with the new hair :P
We went over to the con as soon as it opened to get in line for my photo op with Maisie Williams. There were no signs anywhere as you walked in saying where to pick up your pre-purchased photo-op pass, so James and I went right over to the photo-op line, then had to backtrack all the way back to the entrance and get in the now-long line to pick up passes. The passes ended up being note cards, cut in half, written on with black sharpie. I could have forged my own pass -.-
We got in line for Maisie and the lines for all the photo-ops were all forming in the small, curtained off area. There was zero signage as to which line was for who and the lines were all mushing together because there were too many people. Volunteers were walking up and down between the lines every so often, one in particular just screaming as he went. He didn't come of as productive, just rude.
She started her photos early and it was like an assembly line of click "Next!" click "Next!" click "Next!". My anxiety about looking bad in my one shot for this photo got worse as I made my way forward in line. When my turn came, the photographer had to adjust something on his camera so I had time to tell Maisie I thought she looked "so pretty." She laughed and thanked me as she put her arm around me for the picture. James stood off to the side during my photo-op, and probably could've gotten a photo if he were a dishonest person because they thought he was just next in line.
We walked around and got back into the Jason Momoa line immediately, and suddenly people were screaming about if you had paid for a photo op with all 3 actors to get in another line. Um... that wasn't even one of the options for pre-order so it was pretty crummy. I probably would've purchased that instead of two separate photo ops with Maisie Williams and Jason Momoa. I couldn't afford to do an op with Rory McCann as well, which I'm particularly sad about after seeing the Sunday panel and realizing how hilarious he is. I asked a woman who looked like she was in charge when the 3 celebrity op became an option and she replied, "I just found out myself."
I was determined to get a great picture with Jason while I was dressed as his wife, so when my turn came I started asking to take a picture kissing him on the cheek as I walked over. I was afraid to wait until I got up to him to ask, because I thought the photographer would just snap and send me away with nothing (that's how assembly line it felt). Anyway, Jason was so easy going that he seemed almost dopey. He said "Ok." and bent down to my level (and he is MUCH taller than I am.) I gave him a kiss on the beardy cheek, and was sent on my way after excitedly thanking him. Once again, James was standing to the side and probably could've gotten a free photo. Jason shook his hand and said hello as he walked out with me.
From there we went and got expensive con food because we were hungry and tired from standing in line for so long. James joked that he was sorry I couldn't order a horse heart to eat. :P I ended up getting chicken fingers and fries. One of my chicken fingers had a bone in it which kind of ruined them for me. Biting into a bone that you didn't know was there and wasn't supposed to be there will do that, I guess. We picked up my photo-op hard copies, which were all just lying out on tables. I'm extremely disappointed with my Maisie Williams picture (I look derpy), but my Jason Momoa photo is pretty spectacular. At first we couldn't find the Jason Momoa photo and were worried that someone else had walked up and taken it (which easily could've happened). We finally found it mixed in with photos from the day before. Random.
After food and photo pick-up, we wandered over to Embassy Suites to take some pictures in their lovely lobby (which we had been talking about since Thursday evening). Of course Sunday was the only day of the week that wasn't bright and sunny, so the lighting in the pictures wasn't what we expected/wanted. We spent a while over there before heading back to get in line for the Game of Thrones panel early since we couldn't get into Saturdays panel. We were about 5th in line, but there was no signage anywhere to show where a line should've started. I joked with the people in line that we should get paper and sharpies to make our own signs for the front of the line. Suddenly other people started lining up on the other side of the door or just going into the hall during the Walking Dead panel. The (rapidly growing) line kept saying "The line is here" but some people were - honestly - being inconsiderate assholes.
There were no volunteers to be found in the area and when one finally showed up I asked if the Walking Dead panel folks would all be asked to leave like after the cosplay contest the day before. She replied "Yes, they're all going to have to leave." WELL, the panel ended and nobody left. The lines stood outside the hall and finally, feeling like an angry fireball, I hailed two arriving volunteers and asked what was going on. They said they'd find out and came back out to say, "Just go in and grab seats." Well... I. Was. Pissed. We had waited for almost 2 hours.
We walked in and got some of the leftover seats in the back of the room. Everyone was upset. Saw some Game of Thrones cosplayers that had chosen to pass us and not to wait in line like decent people sitting up front. I got out of my seat and marched up to the front to try and find whoever was in charge. Hell hath no fury like a woman dressed as the Mother of Dragons getting cut in line by hundreds of people after waiting over an hour. Apparently, while I was marching my butt down to the front, one of the people we had been chatting with in line turned to James and told him I was "a force to be reckoned with." When I'm angry, that's absolutely true.
I found a woman down at the stage and explained the situation to her. How we had waited for over an hour, been completely misinformed by volunteers, would've had a 2nd row seat the day before if they hadn't cleared the room after the cosplay contest, etc... She replied that she was actually with photo ops and she understood where I was coming from. She also told me that the event was so disorganized and her company was so irritated that they would not be doing business with the con again. She told me I looked beautiful as Dany and told me to go get James; that she would find seats for us up front.
I went and got James, and when we arrived back down at the front she sat us in the 3rd row off to the left in the wheelchair section. She told me she was sorry about what had happened and that if anyone gave us any grief about sitting there to tell her and she would set them straight. I wish I had gotten her name because she was so helpful and she got it. She was on the same page as we were. Before she helped us, James and I were telling each other we wouldn't return to Tampa Bay Comic Con because of the disorganization. It was so frustrating and she, pretty much, saved the con for us. She certainly saved the day for us. I'm sure it pissed off other people, but at that point I had completely had it. So had she.
The panel was fantastic. The actors were funny and shared a lot of great stories. We found out that Maisie is a huge fan of Spider-man. Also, it turns out Jason Momoa and Rory McCann were out drinking at Four Green Fields the evening before and had only gotten 4 hours of sleep - explaining my photo op experience with [a very sleepy, dopey] Jason. He was drinking Monster (which he was hiding the cans of behind the lid of a styrofoam cooler). Imagine if James and I had made it back there the night before, like we wanted to! We could've met them in the local pub. I think I'll kick myself for a long time for not deciding to make the trek back there and eating in the hotel sports bar instead. Below, you can watch a YouTube video of the panel by GeekMeOut.
There was nowhere to change into regular clothes, so I changed in the car in the back of a Wendy's parking lot, praying nobody would park near us and see. -.-
- MISCELLANEOUS THOUGHTS
All in all, the con was very disorganized. It could've been so much better, but there were a ton of missed opportunities. Mail the badges out in advance. Have more space for the photo-op and autograph lines. Have those lines clearly labeled. Have all lines clearly labeled and have informed volunteers there to help anyone with questions. Maybe let photographers set up photo areas. Have more signage outside. I think it'll just be a one day visit con for me if they have a guest that I particularly want to meet in the future. It was an expensive weekend for something that ended up being so frustrating.
I still haven't received my JPEG files from the Maisie Williams and Jason Momoad photo-ops. On August 29th, Tampa Bay Comic Con made a Facebook announcement stating, "We would like to offer all attendees that purchased photo-ops at the August 2013 Tampa Bay Comic Con, TWO FREE adult admissions to the next convention in spring 2014 with the presentation of your Showclix receipt from the August convention and/or photo-op picture (with you pictured) + your government issued photo ID. We realize that photo-ops were frustrating (Froggy is still working to get attendees their photos), and as an apology for any frustration we want to offer those attendees something in return."
I won't feel better until I have received my digital photos. :(
- UPDATE (12, September 2013)
I am so sorry, i found out that my emailer did not send many emails at the end of August. Yours was in here. I am so sorry for the delay! Here are your JPGS if you had more than 1 they will all come in separate emails. Let me know if you are still missing some. Make sure to check your spam filters also. Again i am so sorry!
• TOTAL: $337.76
• 3 Day Pass: $49.50
• Maisie Williams Photo-Op & JPEG: $40.00
• Jason Momoa Photo-Op & JPEG: $50.00
• Half Hotel & Parking: $198.26 (Total cost was $396.51)