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  • Writer's picturePat and Alexis Kenrick

Unlocking the Ultimate Convention Experience: A Guide to Passes, Autographs, Artists, Panels, & More

Are you a fan of pop culture? Fan conventions offer the ultimate playground for enthusiasts, where you can meet your favorite celebrities, purchase unique merchandise, meetup with current friends or make new ones, and break out in the Time Warp dance with 100 other fans. With so many options, it can be overwhelming to know where to start. But fear not! This blog covers everything you need to know, including admission options, tips for purchasing photo ops and autographs, exploring Artist Alley and the Vendor Hall, attending panels and after-hours events, and making the most of your trip. So get ready for an unforgettable adventure and start planning your next convention experience!

A busy weekend at a fan convention.

Getting in the Door

Fan conventions are like amusement parks for pop culture enthusiasts. There's nothing quite like the feeling of being surrounded by like-minded people who share your passions. But with so many admission options, it can be overwhelming to know how to even get in the door. Don't fret, though - we've got you covered!

If you're someone who values efficiency and having the best possible experience, a VIP Pass might be the right choice for you. It's like skipping the line at Disney World, but way cooler. With a VIP Pass, you get access to exclusive perks like early entry to the convention center, priority access to popular events and panels, and a VIP lounge area. Plus, you may even receive some sweet, exclusive merch. If you're ready to ball out and make the most of your convention experience, a VIP Pass is definitely worth considering. VIP pass benefits vary per convention, so read those details carefully.

For those looking to spend the entire weekend indulging in all things pop culture, a Weekend Pass is a no-brainer. You'll get to immerse yourself in the convention for all three days - Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, usually. It's perfect for people who don't want to miss a thing and want to make the most of their time at the convention.

If you're on a budget or can only attend for one day, fear not! A Single Day Ticket is the way to go. You'll still get to experience all the convention has to offer on one specific day - whether that's Friday, Saturday, or Sunday.

Just make sure you do your research before purchasing any pass. VIP Pass benefits can vary from convention to convention, so make sure you know exactly what you're getting into. Conventions have their own website where you can find all the necessary information on each pass type. Get ready for an epic adventure as you explore the exciting world of conventions!

Meeting your favorite celebrity is a fun experience.

Meeting the Celebrities

Who doesn't want to meet their favorite celebrity? That's why photo ops and autographs are a huge draw for many convention-goers, offering fans the chance to interact with their idols and create lasting memories.

With a photo op, attendees get their photo taken by a professional photographer with the celebrity of their choice, which is usually printed out on-site moments after the photo is taken, and often there is the option to purchase a digital copy of the photo. It's like having your own personal red carpet moment. Photo ops allows for 2-4 fans to be in each photo op, just check with the convention rules to see how many of you and your friends can be in the same photo. Some celebrities will pose with you in adorable or comedic poses, if you suggest this before the photo op starts.

And autographs? They're another way to commemorate the experience and have a personal keepsake to take home. Whether you want the celebrity to sign a piece of merchandise, an Amourable Art print, a personal item, or even have a personalized conversation and signature, the opportunities are endless. Autograph sessions are a little longer than the 2 second photo ops, so you can chat a short while with the celebrity. Keep in mind the length of line behind you, as other fans are also waiting to get their moment with the same celebrity you all love.

But let's be real, purchasing these coveted photo ops and autographs can be a bit overwhelming. That's why we recommend checking the schedule and purchasing them in advance through the event website to avoid long lines and ensure availability of your favorite celebrity. Autographs and photo ops have and will sell out for the most popular celebrities at a convention. When purchasing online, you will be able to use your credit card. If you do decide to purchase them at the convention, be prepared to fork over some cash, because they often only accept cash, as in not a credit card. So save your plastic for other purchases throughout the weekend.

When it comes to what to have signed, celebrities usually sign items like photographs, posters, t-shirts, art prints, books, DVD/Blu-Ray covers, and other memorabilia related to their work. You can bring something with you or even purchase something at the convention, like some sweet art from Amourable Art. If you can't decide what to have the celebrity sign, don't fret, because they'll almost always have some 8x10 photos on their table for you to choose from, and the autograph will usually come with one of these for free.

Some celebrities may even sign personal items like guitars, collector's edition toys, or even body parts (like hands or arms). But, as with most things in life, it's always best to check with the celebrity's management or the convention organizers beforehand to see what they're willing to sign, because some celebrities may have restrictions or only sign certain items. Don't forget to familiarize yourself with any guidelines or rules the convention may have regarding what items can be signed. Remember that the celebrity is a person, so don't bring anything that would make them uncomfortable. You feel like you know them, but to them you are a stranger, so keep those panties at home.

Are you looking for a unique way to remember your meeting with your favorite celebrity? Some celebrities offer voice or video recordings and phone selfies at their autograph table. While these options come with an additional cost, they are a great way to have a memorable experience with a celebrity. It's important to keep in mind that these options are cash-only, so make sure to bring enough cash with you to the convention. There will be ATMs on site, but the ATMs have run out of cash before, so don't rely solely on the ATM. Also, keep in mind that these options may not be advertised until you get to the convention itself, so don't be afraid to ask the celebrity's management or the convention organizers if these options are available.

Having a voice or video recording of your conversation with a celebrity is a unique way to remember your encounter, and it's a great keepsake to share with friends and family. Phone selfies are another fun option that allows you to capture the moment with your own device. So, keep an eye out for these additional options at the autograph table, and do be afraid to ask if they're available. It's a great way to make your meeting with your favorite celebrity even more special and memorable.

Be prepared, be respectful, and most importantly, have fun! Remember to keep it brief and polite so that everyone has a positive experience. Happy autograph hunting, folks!

Shopping with artists is rewarding and enjoyable.

What's in the Bag?

Artist Alley and Vendor Hall are two of the most exciting features of a convention that offer attendees an incredible experience. If you're a fan of original works, then Artist Alley is the place for you. Here, local artists, comic book artists, and independent creators showcase their original artwork and handmade merchandise, giving you the chance to interact with the artists themselves and purchase one-of-a-kind pieces. It's an art lover's dream come true!

But if you're looking for fandom merchandise and collectibles, then the Vendor Hall is where you need to be. It's a bustling marketplace where vendors and exhibitors sell a wide range of items, including comic books, toys, apparel, art, and more. It's the perfect place to find that rare item you've been searching for or to stock up on souvenirs from your favorite franchises. You'll find Amourable Art in the Vendor Hall at nearly all of our convention appearances.

The main difference between Artist Alley and Vendor Hall lies in the type of merchandise they offer. To be in Artist Alley, a table must provide handmade or artist-designed items, while Vendor Hall is home to collectibles, souvenirs, handmade art, and more . However, both areas are worth exploring as they offer something different and special. While Artist Alley is a hub for unique, handmade, and limited edition pieces and the opportunity to meet artists and learn about their creative process, the Vendor Hall offers an extensive marketplace with collectibles, souvenirs, and artists showcasing their talent to a broader audience. Although Artist Alley is an exceptional place to meet artists, don't miss the opportunity to discover some incredible artists and merchandise in the Vendor Hall too.

Artists can be found in both Artist Alley and the Vendor Hall, showcasing their diverse range of artistic talent. Some artists choose to display their work in the cozy setting of Artist Alley, while others may opt for more space in the Vendor Hall to showcase their creations to a larger audience. If you're a collector or simply an art lover, it's important to visit both areas to get the full art experience. For example, Amourable Art is an artist who can be found in the Vendor Hall, offering beautiful and unique pieces for purchase.

Make sure to visit both Artist Alley and Vendor Hall at your next convention for an unforgettable shopping experience. Who knows, you might just discover your new favorite artist or find that one-of-a-kind item you've been searching for!

You never know what kind of panel you might attend. (Featuring artist Megan Withey)

Panels and Parties

Conventions aren't just about shopping and selfies with your favorite stars - they're also the ultimate playground for fans who want to learn, engage, and have fun with fellow nerds. Let's talk about two of the most exciting parts of any convention: panels and after-hours events.

Panels are like the intellectual powerhouse of a convention. It's where you can listen to experts in their field discuss everything from celebrity interviews to workshops on the latest trends in the industry. With these sessions, you can ask questions, connect with other fans and leave with a brain full of new knowledge. Even if that knowledge is the color of the rhinestone underwear John Barrowman wears.

After-hours events, however, are where you can let your hair down and have some fun outside the convention hours. Imagine late-night dance parties, trivia games, and even concerts! It's like the ultimate sleepover with people who share your passions.

Attending panels and after-hours events is a great way to get the most out of your convention experience. You can make new friends, learn something new, and geek out with people who love the same things you do. The best part is that finding these events is super easy. Most conventions have a detailed schedule of events on their website, and you can access this ahead of the event. This schedule is often posted one to two weeks prior to the convention starting. You can also find a printed schedule at the convention center or download an app. With a little planning and foresight, you won't miss any of the exciting things happening at the convention.

Keep in mind that most panels and after-hours events are included in the cost of your day or weekend pass, but some may have an additional fee. Always check the schedule ahead of time, so you don't miss out on something epic! Panels and after-hours events are where the magic of conventions happens. It's where you can learn, have fun, and connect with like-minded people. Don't miss out on this essential part of the convention experience.

Eating local cuisine is a favorite part of traveling to conventions.

Out of Town Travel

Attending a convention can be an experience of a lifetime, but traveling out of town to do so can be a bit overwhelming. Luckily, we've got some tips to help you make the most of your trip, so you can have a blast without any added stress.

Hotels can be your haven after a long day of convention madness. To make sure you're not too far from the action, choose a hotel that's close to the event location. Proximity is key, so look for hotels that are within walking distance or offer convenient transportation options. You'll thank yourself later when you're not running late and out of breath. If you're planning to shop or want to take a mid-day break, choose a hotel that's close to the convention center. This makes it easy to drop off your purchases and refresh your energy before heading back to the action. If you're planning on changing your cosplay outfits frequently (we don't judge), a hotel within walking distance is a must-have. Your tired feet will thank you!

When it comes to food during your convention trip, it's important to have a plan in place to avoid relying on overpriced and subpar options within the convention center. To make the most of your dining experiences, consider finding a hotel that offers a complimentary breakfast or is located near a wide range of dining options. To ensure you have the best experience, research local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and street vendors that cater to your tastes and budget. Use tools like Google Maps and TripAdvisor to read reviews. Don't hesitate to ask other attendees and fans for their favorite local spot for a delicious meal during your trip. Additionally, having the option of a nearby restaurant is also convenient for taking a break from the convention and freshening up, especially if you plan on changing cosplays or want to drop off your shopping haul.

Don't forget to pack snacks for the convention as well. It's always a good idea to check the convention center and the event page to see the rules about bringing in outside food. If allowed, bringing snacks can help ease your immediate hunger while waiting in long lines or during downtime. Just be sure to choose items that are easy to carry and don't create a mess. My favorites are sealed sandwich crackers, protein or granola bars, trail mix or nuts, water bottle, energy drinks, and chocolate.

Attending a convention is not only an opportunity to immerse yourself in the fandom culture, but it's also a chance to discover the local area. Take some time to explore the sights, sounds, and flavors of the surrounding area, even if you're a seasoned attendee. To fully enjoy the local culture, do some research before your trip to find local attractions and activities that interest you, and make a plan to visit them before or after your weekend at the convention. From museums and parks to shopping and dining, there's sure to be something that appeals to your interests and hobbies.

One great way to maximize your trip is to arrive a day early or stay a day later to fully experience the local area. This can allow you to not only attend the convention, but also make a vacation out of your nerd weekend. Take a break from the convention center and visit the local museums, parks, or other tourist spots. The extra time also gives you the chance to relax, recharge, and maybe even check out a few more local restaurants. So why not make the most of your time and turn your convention trip into a well-rounded travel experience? Remember, if you're going to travel all that way, you might as well make the most of it.

With any luck you'll meet amazing friends at conventions. (featuring Sonia, Jennifer, and Brittnee)

Going to a convention is like entering a world of wonder, filled with famous faces, unique merch, and likeminded fans. But with so many options, it can be tough to choose. Thankfully, there are packages for every budget, from a one-day pass to a VIP experience. Don't forget to prepare for your celebrity photo op, bring cash, and explore the Artist Alley and Vendor Hall. Attend events like workshops and after-hours parties for learning and mingling with like-minded people. Just be respectful and have a blast! Whether it's your first or fiftieth time, conventions offer magical moments and everlasting memories.

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