*Note* This post is from 2014, but I wanted to share it here.~
I know it’s taken me a while, but with three jobs it’s hard to find a spare moment to just type. This is my opinion of FanExpo 2014.
Let’s start off with the basics. FanExpo used to be the weekend before the Labour Day long weekend but this year (2014) and next year (2015) the Expo is on the long weekend. I hate it. I used to ask for the Thursday & Friday off work just to attend the Expo, now I can’t because of the holiday Monday. It also forces me to choose between the cottage with my family/friends and the Expo. Why the hell did you change the dates???
You don’t even want to get me started on announcements for the Expo. I almost didn’t attend because the celebrity announcements didn’t occur until August. I’ve blogged about that HERE.
For the last four years, I have always purchased the Premium Pass which up until two years ago was the BEST pass you could get. Then they introduced V.I.P passes. Ok some crazy people are willing to pay the $563.87 (with HST) in order to not wait in line but there HAS to be a better way to ensure Premium pass holders receive fair treatment. I was at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre on Saturday at 5am and on Sunday at 6am. Both days I was treated like a second class citizen. I can not afford to pay that much for a ticket, not with autograph and photo op prices.
For those of you who waited in line to get an autograph from a celebrity, you know what I’m talking about when I say the way they designed the lines was ridiculous. They had red tape on the floor that mapped out a maze like line that was too close together and had no dividers between each celebrity. Too many people crammed into too small of a space. You had people passing by who would cut into the line and Expo volunteers who were continuously yelling at us to line up single file. Newsflash, not everyone attends the Expo alone and if we want to turn and talk to someone we’re going to. Add in the parents with small children and the strollers and everyone is everywhere. We can’t stay single file for two or more hours while we wait for our celebrity to show up. Autograph lines are not military line ups.
Also, can someone please tell me why the Expo planners thought it would be a good idea to put food trucks (a.k.a the food court in South Building) near the photo op lines? The Photo op lines are already a shit fest and every year the number of Photo Ops for A list celebrities are seriously under estimated. You had lines within lines that continued into another room.
On the plus side, EXCELLENT improvement with handling the photo pick up section. I can honestly say in the last four years, this was the fastest I have ever received my photo. Well Done!
I’d also like to give a Gold Star to two of the volunteers (tall woman and guy) that were manning the photo op lines. For the life of me I can’t remember your names, but I had a conflict with my times and you solved my problem with ease. Very well done.
Now most of us can understand when things go wrong, like when Lauren Cohan and Danai Gurira were stuck at customs for half a day on Saturday. That is something that is out of Expo planners hands. What was horrible about it was the way the Expo staff and volunteers handled the autograph lines for Danai. I had been waiting to meet her since 5am when I arrived at the Expo that day. I even received one of those FanExpo tickets that stated that I would be able to get an autograph from her that day so long as I checked back and the line was at my number (96).
As mentioned we didn’t know they were held at customs until 2pm and they were then stuck in traffic coming into the city. When they did arrive, their lines went into a frenzy. I assumed Expo volunteers would honour the ticket system they had put in place but I was wrong. Other fans who had not been waiting in her line were already lined up to see her. Further they had to cut it short because she was late for her photo ops. Her agent that was with her assured us that she would be back to sign more autographs after her ops and told us that the tickets the Expo volunteers had hand us at 9:30am weren’t valid because he didn’t know about them. We had to get another White ticket with our current number in line in order to get an autograph. We would then line up in numerical order according to the numbers on the white tickets.
Once again I received my number (65) then made my way to the photo op line since I had ops with both Lauren and Danai. This is when things went from horrible to out of control. Tempers were already high, people were tired, impatient and pissed off due to the lack of order. Fans had heard Danai was here so everyone came to see her and I mean EVERYONE who was left at the expo. This was around 5pm-ish. People who did not have Expo or white tickets tried to line up to see her. Obviously fans with tickets weren’t having that as they had not waited all day to see her. I was at the front of the line where the Expo volunteer was (I am short, I can not see from the back) and I was out of the way/trying to help keep some sort of order. When Danai left to take her photo ops, we were at White ticket 40 something, ergo when she came back we were supposed to start right back up at 40 something. THAT COULDN’T BE THE FURTHEST THING THAT HAPPENED! We attempted to line up in White ticket numerical order but fans with no tickets were lined up for her. Then there were the fans who had Expo tickets and no White tickets. They were pissed because their tickets weren’t being honoured anymore. (Rightly so.) Plus we had White ticket numbers before 40something who had to go before the rest of us in order to keep what Danai’s Agent said legit. On top of all that the V.I.P holders, who were nowhere in sight all day, were in their own line for Danai and were receiving their autographs before everyone else. I understand that they pay to not wait in line, but in these circumstances Expo staff/volunteers were wrong to let them cut in front of everyone else. Thus, this caused a mini uprising in the crowd.
One dad in line with his teenage daughter was so enraged by the lack of organization he asked to speak to whoever was in charge at the Expo. A rep came over and discussion between them become so heated that Convention security came over. Then a couple who was arguing with a volunteer, started to defend the dad, as they were in the line with him and myself since 10am. One thing lead to another and four police officers came over. Since I saw the whole thing I was asked to repeat what happened to the Expo staff/volunteers, the Convention security and the police. The whole time Danai was calmly signing autographs and ensured us that she would stay as long as she was allowed to make sure everyone who wanted to see her could. I received my autograph and left the Expo at 7pm. Again, this was after arriving at 5 am!
Sunday went much better for me as I was only there to see the cast of Bitten. (I had a family event in the afternoon) I lined up outside at 6am, then lined up again inside at 9am to be let into the Expo and one more line outside the room where the Bitten Panel was to be held. The panel itself was interesting even though no one could talk about season two. The first 75 people in line were also guaranteed an autograph from the cast so after the panel we went into the Expo at the Space Booth and lined up again. The only complaint I have, is about how Space runs their autograph session. While we were waiting for them to start the autograph session we were told that the cast was not allowed to take pictures with us or sign anything except for the Space postcards. Fortunately, we were able to coax some of the cast into coming over and taking a picture with us.
*Note* ~UPDATE~ Since this horrid experience in 2014, I have boycotted FanExpo and have not attended since.~