The Dose: Dallas Fan Expo 2017 was an enjoyable mess
From the moment you arrive at the Dallas Convention Center, there are lines – lines to get a parking spot, lines to get through doors and lines to get up the escalator. It’s a never-ending strand of people bumping and pushing their way through the crowds.
In one line, you see Harry Potter push aside Batman; in the other, you see a zombie holding hands with Princess Peach. To your left, Mario and Luigi race one another, while Iron Man holds a cup of coffee by the front entrance. It’s a vast array of people and things, all waiting anxiously to meet the thousands of other cosplayers, celebrities and pop culture fans waiting in the same lines they are.
It’s officially the Dallas Fan Expo.
This year’s Fan Expo took place from March 31 to April 2 at the Dallas Convention Center, bringing in over 50 high profile celebrities, such as Mark Hamill (“Star Wars,” “Batman”), Stan Lee (Marvel Comics), Norman Reedus (“The Walking Dead”) and Milo Ventimiglia (“This is Us,” “Gilmore Girls”). The expo also held opportunities for vendors and artists from around the country to set up shop and mingle with fellow enthusiasts.
While the expo was full of laughs, joyful tears and epic finds, it was full of many more duds than previous years. Although the event showcases rare Pop! Funko figures, limited edition magazines and shirts with fan-favorite references, it didn’t have the room to fill the amount of vendors present.
The divided areas were for vendors, cosplayers, artists, attractions, autograph signings and photos. With over 600 different vendors at this year’s event, it was more of a maze than a walk in the park to maneuver around every tight corner and close space between vendor booths.
Like any event with outside sellers, things were overpriced, in short quantities and were impossible to find. People fought over Pop! figures and signed pictures, while vendors tried telling you that a $10 action figure was actually worth $100 because it was “exclusive to Asia.”
And in order to get anywhere in the exhibition hall, you had to fight through these scenarios every step of the way, including everyone’s favorite part – getting to pay more money than the $55 and over tickets just to meet a famous person for less than one minute.
For many people, meeting their favorite celebrity should be a dream come true. I swooned last year when I met Candice Patton (“The Flash”) and Stan Lee, but this year, my bank account said otherwise.
To get an autograph from Mark Hamill, for example, it cost $195. To take a picture with Mark, you had to rack up an additional $195. While some celebrities’ prices were a little more generous, like Robin Lord Taylor’s (“Gotham”) $60 photo opportunity, $40 autograph and $30 selfie, the amount of money you spend to get a quick glimpse isn’t always worth it.
Granted, it didn’t end well for some people. Norman Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan’s (“The Walking Dead”) fans drew the short end of the stick this year, causing controversy all over Fan Expo’s social media accounts.
The duo was originally scheduled to appear at the event during all three days. But due to scheduling conflicts, their visit was moved to Saturday only.
On top of that, they arrived extremely late in the day because of storms from New York. Photos and autographs were rushed, causing every single person who bought a ticket to wait their turn and hope for the best.
Many attendees waited over three hours to get a picture with the “Walking Dead” stars, but left with no photo and angry tweets in their wake.
— DeAnn Chapman (@TheCatAddict) April 2, 2017
While the expo offered refunds for some disappointed patrons, it really is a shame to be so pumped to meet your favorite actors, just to get that opportunity yanked out of your grasp.
Now don’t get me wrong, comic conventions always have their fun. It’s crazy to see the costumes people come up with, it’s interesting to share fan theories, it’s fun to add more knick-knacks to your swelling shelf of collectibles and the convention is an environment unlike any other. Where else would you see Tracer from “Overwatch” sharing makeup tips with Harley Quinn, or Yondu from “Guardians of the Galaxy” posing for a picture with Green Arrow?
It’s so exciting to see the look on children’s faces as they shake hands with their heroes, and it’s like a jolt of joy when you find a rare collectible you’ve searched for endlessly. There aren’t those many places where thousands of people can bond over similar interests.
Even though this was the craziest, most unorganized con I’ve been to, it will in no way be my last. While photo opportunities are overpriced, the areas are tight and it’s crazy to charge money for a selfie, fan expos are more about bonding over entertainers and geekdom, and celebrating the pop culture we love to consume daily.
Featured Image: Shy Guy, Bowser and Mario (“Mario Kart”) race through the con. The group, whichalso featured Luigi, was a hit throughout the con. Kameren Hansen
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