Last weekend the Anaheim Convention Center hosted WonderCon. Normally an annual show in San Francisco, the Moscone Center in the city by the bay was unable to host the event due to renovations. This was a prime opportunity for Anaheim to make an impression with con promoters, who also run the world famous San Diego Comic-Con. For years, Anaheim has campaigned to have San Diego’s convention move to Anaheim. WonderCon would have been the key to make an impression with the founders and strut their stuff. Unfortunately, Anaheim’s Convention Center organizers “Nuked the Fridge” by being too greedy.
First of all, not only did the convention center host WonderCon, but two other events were going on at the same time. A high school girls volleyball tournament, and a cheerleading competition were taking place in other parts of the building. Needless to say, the place was overbooked. Parking was a logistics nightmare. Some attendees had to park at Angel’s Stadium and be shuttled in to the event(s.) (I’ll get back to this later.)
Second, the availability of places to eat was sparse. If you are willing to walk more than your fair share of steps for the day, there were a few small fast food outlets available on site, but a person would have starved to death in line from the wait. Luckily, Namco Bandai was giving out free food to fans every day of the con. They had Naruto Shippuden: Ultimate Ninja Storm Generations themed truck filled with delicious beef and chicken bowls. I will personally sing the praises of Namco Bandai until my dying days. They were a lifesaver. Oh yeah! Check out their games, they’ll blow your mind.
Third, Anaheim’s Convention Center cannot support 50,000 attendees, let alone 150,000. The facilities are inadequate to handle the human traffic. The restrooms are too small, and they were not well maintained. Waiting in line for an artist, celebrity, food, and then the restroom adds to the grind. This makes the quality of life less than desirable at the show.
Fourth, security was a huge issue. Volunteers and security guards could be seen at the doors, but not on the floors directing attendees. Lines for the convention’s cafe, spilled out into the vendor’s area and further complicated navigation. Maybe hosting three events had the center’s staff spread out too thin to make a real difference. Also, attendees were irritable and on the verge of exploding into fights at any given moment. To the people running the convention center, “Get your act together!”
Finally, let’s get back to the shuttle. Although there was room to park inside the structure, a lot of fans were directed to park at Angel’s Stadium for a fee of ten dollars. A bus shuttled passengers to the convention, but the powers in transportation really infuriated attendees with the return trip. After a long wait, the bus did not pick up its passengers at the same place they were dropped off. People were running from the original pick up point to the bus to get an available seat. After traveling back, the bus dropped everyone off on the opposite side of Anaheim Stadium. In essence, more walking was involved and in the rain no less.
With the economy being so poor, you would think a city like Anaheim would want to lure as many lucrative and exciting events like WonderCon to its gates. However, whatever the case may be, poor planning, incompetence, greed, or short sightedness, the Anaheim Convention Center did itself in, and made a very poor impression with the public and WonderCon show runners. If the people in charge of WonderCon and San Diego’s Comic-Con practice good judgment, they will steer clear of Anaheim for any future conventions. The convention center is ill equipped to handle events of this nature or magnitude, but fear not, Anaheim can always fall back on the Angels and Disneyland.