Anaheim Comic Con 2011

This past weekend, I attended the Anaheim Comic Con. Sponsored by Wizard World, this was their 2nd annual comic book convention in Anaheim across the street from Disneyland. Overall it was a fine experience- here are my pros and cons breakdown:

ACC seemed to be an improvement from their pilot year. The floor was larger and better organized. Last year, it was primarily half celebrity autographs and half generic toy vendors. This year there was more variety of booths with specialty items, demonstrations, and more unique collectibles. Saturday was pretty crowded and the media boasted 20-25k in attendance.

This was one of the biggest Autograph sections I have ever seen- it was HUGE. Plenty of ‘celebs’ and very easy access. As far as the quality of stars, I will address in my cons section.

There was an actual FOOD COURT in the showroom floor with a decent variety of cuisines. Granted, it’s still ‘con food’ but at least it’s not 3 day old hotdogs and cardboard pretzels that you get at SDCC. Why San Diego doesn’t bring in nicer food is beyond me.

Even though I am not a drinker, I was impressed with the mixed drink bar available on the floor. I guess it was something to take the edge off while shuffling through the crowds. i’m sure mixing alcohol and rabid fans at San Diego would only end disastrously but at a smaller con it seems to work.

The Artist Alley was also comparable to  SDCC. There were tons of artist and with easy access.

The convention center has a lot of potential and I could see why Anaheim was lobbying to get SDCC here. While it doesn’t have the iconic profile as the SD Con Center, it does have huge growth potential. Since this Hall was one of 5 halls of the same size, there is plenty of room to house an ever growing SDCC. However, the traffic and the surrounding area would be a complete mess and the lack of the Gaslamp nightlife was evident.


  • While the floor was descent sized, it still is lacking the creative presence of the major studios and companies. Even though some of the biggest movies in geekdom are opening like Thor, Green Lantern, and Captain America, you would never know it with the lack of promotion. There is nothing unique or superior to the SDCC experience at this Con. My suggestion would be for the organizers to offer something that can’t be found anywhere else. Otherwise this convention experience is just a very watered down version of the larger cons. If you’ve not been to other cons then you might enjoy this. Con veterans might find this sophomoric.
  • While the Autograph section was huge, the level of actors were ‘C’ list at best. Tricia Helfer was the only actress of any recent success and the rest were hard to recognize without their ‘claim to fame’ head shots. These were bottom of the barrel celebs barely worth a walk thru. You know it’s bad when Lou Ferrigno and Richard Hatch are not in attendance.
  • The panels were sparse and uninspired. There wasn’t a single one that I felt remotely interested in attending. I’m sure they were meaningful to someone but I decided to use my time more productively.
  • I think it is way over priced. At $35 a day, the experience was more like $15. Fortunately, my press pass gained me free access or I would have been pretty bummed.

Magnum PI’s Ferrari? Really???

First a nerf-herder and now a web slinger. Boba is good.

I had to get a pic of Superman talking to his dad!

As a new fan of The Guild, it was great to meet some of the cast. I had a great chat with Amy Okuda and Robin Thorson about some behind the scenes stuff

I must be getting old or the Fetts are getting younger and younger

Boys there is plenty of swag to go around

This kid had the swankiest ride at the Con

I hope Anaheim Comic Con lives long and prosper

So while the Anaheim Comic Con has a long way to go, it’s still an enjoyable distraction for a weekend experience as long as you go with low expectations.

6 thoughts on “Anaheim Comic Con 2011

  1. Hi Tony.

    Thanks for the 411 and review of ACC. I currently live in SF but my family is still in So Cal so I’ve been very tempted to come down the last 2 years to attend. Unfortunately I just haven’t been able to but at least now I know what I missed … or didn’t.

    Now you mentioned ACC finding and bring something no other con can offer to raise its credibility and appeal. I think you’re right on. As a WonderCon attendee for the last 4 years and to see that show grow exponentially in just that time and having attended SDCC last year I see 3 distinct factors that make these cons big time successes and in the league of their own. (1) Major Corporate representation. I know the “purist” Comic Con fans may not like it, but its the Marvels, DC, Hasbro, Mattel, Warner Bros, HBO, Nintendo, etc., that bring an alltogether different level, status and feel to the cons. (2) Exclusives. Again, I know die hards aren’t too big a fans of these as they’ll say it brings scalpers trying to make a buck, but you can’t deny it brings a ton of folks and in connection to factor 1, allows the big companies to come. (3) The entertainment panels aka Hollywood. That line that people camp out for and circles the SD convention center at 5 am ain’t for comics now is it?

    So I know you posted earlier about your recent and new WonderCon experience but I can share with you it’s clearly growing because of those 3 factors. This year saw Marvel and Mattel show up at Wondercon for the first time in my experience. Marvel also brought an exclusive X-Men comic book honoring the SF Giants World Series victory. It was totally awesome, sold out quick and there was a huge line for it. It won’t shock me if DC and other companines start doing a few more WonderCon exclusives now. On the Hollywood scene we had Green Lantern, Cowboys and Aliens, Doctor Who, V and few others. These brought in a whole crowd themselves. I can tell you that even Doctor Who had a line that circled the building an hour before doors opened.

    So to me if Anaheim wants to move up to the next level of cons it has got to pursue those areas. Now what’s seems promising for Anaheim is that being so close to Hollywood geographically, it’s got a lot of potential to really up the Hollywood factor. That’s where I feel it should really be able to grow. In turn, that may in the long term help their credibility with corporate companies and the exclusives would naturally fall thereafter. I can only hope because it’d give me a good excuse to visit my family but also have some great me time at this convention. But I need it to be worth the drive or flight and time.

    • Great comments! I really enjoyed WonderCon and found it to be the closest to the scale of San Diego. I will def go next year. Yes, there are a lot of purist fans that disparage what Comic Con has become with all the big companies, but I think it has really added to the overall experience. As long as there is something for everyone, I don’t see a problem with it. However, if comics were to ever leave the show, then yes I would probably drop out too. Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  2. Sorry, Tony but I don’t agree with everything you wrote in your article concerning the autograph section of the Anaheim Con, and the panels. First of all, the Anaheim Con and even the San Diego Con can’t get A-list and/or B-list actors to sign autographs. Lou Ferrigno and Richard Hatch? How many people consider these actors to be A or B list actors? Not me, that’s for sure! There is no mention of Adam West, Burt Ward, Ernie Hudson, Ray Park, Harry Hamlin, and other celebrities and wrestlers in your article! Most people would love to have autographs of these famous people. The biggest problem with the celebrities is that most of them charge way too much ($20 average). If money wasn’t an issue, I would have gotten almost everybody’s autograph! While Ernie Hudson, Ray Park, Harry Hamlin, and John Schneider aren’t the best and/or most popular actors, they are the niciest guys you will ever meet. They will even shake your hand and talk to you. The San Diego Con for years has been too packed to stand in long lines and to even meet one or more of the celebrities (not including how hard it is to take their picture and get a autograph).

    Secondly, the panels were actually good, and had plenty of seats available. I only went to the Smallville panel, and we all laughed and had a good time. I skipped the 1960’s Batman panel because I was too tired and deceided to go home instead (even I should have gone to this panel).

    So sure, this con has its cons, but I had such a good time that I don’t remember having such a good time at the San Diego Con in years or ever. The San Diego Con has become all about waiting too long to see a glimpse of someone famous and the free stuff. And now the tickets are next to impossible to get! Sorry, San Diego, I might just go the Oceanside, Anaheim, and the Long Beach Cons from now on!

    The one thing I do agree with you, Tony, is the price to get into the Anaheim Con. $30 to get in? Are you serious? You don’t even get a free autograph in your bag at the door!

    • Yea, I am probably being a little harsh about the the level of celebrities but it did seem to be some very obscure ‘stars’. I agree that $20 is too much and it ends up being the biggest barrier to interact with the celebs. The Smallville panel was the only one I was remotely interested in attending- glad it was good. It is way over priced too. They should give you a voucher for one free autograph right?

      Thanks for visiting and commenting!

  3. I forgot to mention that 2 celebrities did give out free autographs: Actor Michael McMillan (True Blood) and voice actor Stephen Stanton (plays 2 voices for Star Wars: the Clone Wars).

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