On the Scene: Denver Comic Con 2013, Too Much+Too Fast=Too Slow

The good news is that Denver Comic Con has sold out for its Saturday access, in the sense that the numbers (50,000) are here. The bad news is that things are breaking down pretty rapidly into impossible access when it comes to getting to panels on time or getting onto the floor in a reasonable time-frame. The key problems are a single access point to the entire con for badge pick up and those who already have their badges, creating a half mile line around two blocks averaging anything from 30 minutes to an hour or more just to get into the convention center. Once inside, there is freedom of movement unless you want access to the main attraction of the con: the floor. The single access point to the floor, which I mentioned in my earlier coverage (Then and Now) indeed blew up into a major problem. With turnstiles admitting only three people at a time and a baggage check being conducted at those turnstiles only a few feet from the floor entrance, the line for entry to the floor took on the entire length of the 500 foot narrow hallway leading to the floor averaging another 30 minutes or more for floor access.

IMG 5659 300x225 On the Scene: Denver Comic Con 2013, Too Much+Too Fast=Too SlowTo be clear, none of these problems were caused by the space used by the con- the space is vast. It’s due to the puzzling decision to only use one set of doors of six on the ground level (the rest are guarded and unused) to admit folks to the con, even badge-holders, and then by the choice to use only on access point to the floor upstairs, when another, larger entrance is also available but not being used. The con has been bottle-necked by its design for access in a surprising way. There’s also the added issue that people waiting outside for access to the con are being stopped and held, unmoving, for 15 minute periods before being allowed to move forward, perhaps for fire safety reasons, in which case, too many passes were sold for safety and that should have been reconsidered.

All of this back up means that people can’t make use of their passes to get to panels they may be planning to attend or spend an adequate time on the floor to make their passes worthwhile- at least for today. On the upside, many of the con attendees (and a tremendous number in cosplay) are actually being patient and simply biding their time to make the best of it.download 300x225 On the Scene: Denver Comic Con 2013, Too Much+Too Fast=Too Slow They are very excited to be at DCC and enjoying the whole fandom experience of a new con in Colorado. I’ve never abandoned a con before, but today it happened. When I finally gained access to the panel hallways, with minutes to spare, in order to cover them as a journalist, I found that the panels I was looking for had been cancelled or moved to a later time. Looking at the waits to get onto the floor (unprecedented in my experience of quite a number of cons), it wasn’t worth the suffering in my opinion. I’ll try again later, but for now the massive, speedy growth of Denver Comic Con has defeated its best intentions and also for now, defeated my own enthusiasm for con-going. It’s only Saturday midday out here in Denver, and things may improve, but as a journalist, I’m not getting much done in what I came here to do.

IMG 5658 300x225 On the Scene: Denver Comic Con 2013, Too Much+Too Fast=Too Slow

Hannah Means-Shannon writes and blogs about comics for TRIP CITY and Sequart.org and is currently working on books about Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore for Sequart. She is @hannahmenzies on Twitter and hannahmenziesblog on WordPress. Find her bio here.

 

 

Comments

  1. Allen Rubinstein says:

    The Long Beach ComiCon had a similar bizarre problem. There was one very long, slow-moving line for those who had pre-ordered tickets to talk to a single pair of staff members for registration. Another pair of staff members dealt with those who bought tickets on-site, but since almost everyone pre-ordered, they had no line at all. So pre-ordering meant a ninety minute wait, while waiting to buy a ticket then and there meant you could walk right in. Totally ass backwards.

    Even if they hadn’t anticipated the discrepancy (and how long have these people been doing this?), why they couldn’t improvise on the fly to split the line and shuffle the pre-ordered in more quickly was beyond me. Happier customers, better attendance, more sales on the floor. When I mentioned how backwards the outcome was to someone working there, all I got was a sheepish shrug of the shoulders.

  2. J in Denver says:

    With regards to the main event panels… there were only 1600 seats allotted to DCC for their Main Events room. The number of people who showed up to the panels, even with the large number of guests still outside, was phenomenal. There were hundreds of people who were unable to be seated for the Wil Wheaton panel on Saturday and easily over 500 who waited in line but were unable to fit in the room for the Wil Wheaton/Felicia Day panel on Sunday.

  3. Craig Duster says:

    As a long-time comic book dealer in Denver and an exhibitor on the sales floor, I had a front row seat to the problems. What is hard for people to understand, and I don’t think I understood it myself until I saw all the people, was the level of pent up demand for this kind of convention in the Mountain West. Conventions in Denver have submarined by uncooperative retailers (you know who I’m talking about) and poor fan support. This year the star seemed to align, and I was surprised by how excited people were even with all the waiting. The scuttlebutt among the staff that I overheard had a lot to do with how uncooperative the convention center was assist the Comic Con. These seems consistent with other stories I’ve heard about convention at the convention center. I hope you’ll come back next year, Hannah, and you can report on how what an improvement it was.

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