Concentrate: This Week in Con News (June 18)

Welcome back to Concentrate, our weekly news feature where we boil down the week’s news from the convention circuit plus share our calendar of the weekend’s upcoming conventions.

d2313arenaqueueThis week, while SDCC news has been non-stop, we’re also getting ready for August’s D23 Expo. The biennial Disney fan event is set for August 14 – 16 in Anaheim, and as tickets begin to get mailed out we’re learning more about some new features for the show.

Disney has its own issues with this relatively young convention, but one of the things it has consistently excelled at is queue management. Taking a page from the book of their theme park brethren, D23 organizers have implemented great features like StagePass that allow you to hold you place in line. StagePass is to convention panels what FastPass is to Disneyland rides: you can have only one within a certain block, but it allows you have have a confirmed seat in the room provided you arrive at least 15 minutes early.


Panels with StagePass available at the 2013 D23 Expo. StagePass is not available for the main Arena hall.

D23 has also not been the site of huge overnight camping lines, specifically banning them from convention center property before 5am. Instead, a small number of attendees would spend the night on Harbor Blvd. New for 2015, D23 Expo will make like Star Wars Celebration and open up a hall inside the convention center to allow for safer surroundings for the overnighters. Note that this camping setup will only be open on Thursday and Friday nights. While overnight camping is not necessary to get into even the big panels at D23 Expo, you can read the details here if you’re so inclined.


The line in the late afternoon at the Disney store.

Two years ago, however, the line situation was not so rosy at the exclusive stores on the show floor. Fortunately, the hour plus waits will hopefully be mitigated this year by the addition of a new “StorePass.” These passes will allow priority entry to the Dream Store, Disney Store, and Mickey’s of Glendale. They’ll be distributed the same way StagePass is – at a booth in Hall A – and will be limited to one per person per shopping location per day. Like a FastPass, they have 30 minute time slots between noon and 5pm. So while these won’t help if you’re determined to be the first person in the store each morning, it will help alleviate some of the long lines for exclusives that can linger into the afternoon. Some stores have terrible lines all day, while others have no wait after lunch; it’s rather feast-or-famine between the two. There are more details on the Expo’s FAQ page.

While D23 Expo is far from perfect, their continued efforts to help alleviate wait times for both panels and stores is much appreciated on the fan front. It’s certainly a big expense, and it’s telling that pretty much only a company as big as Disney is really able to pull off these Passes. But it proves that it’s possible – and perhaps gives us hope that it might inspire other shows to implement fan-friendly features like this, too.

  • Speaking of Comic-Con news, let’s dig right in to a few choice selections: it was announced last year that Conan O’Brien would be hosting his TBS late night show from San Diego for the week of Comic-Con, and tickets for that have already come and gone. But the show is now accepting submissions for a fan art contest, for use during their SDCC broadcasts. If you want to submit, the contest closes at 8pm EST on June 29.
  • Selfie sticks are now banned at Comic-Con and every news service has been having a field day with it. More importantly, e-cigarettes are also banned, as is the use of live-streaming apps like Periscope or Meerkat inside panel rooms.
  • FlameCon, NYC’s first LGBT-specific comic book convention, was last weekend. They pulled an impressive 2200 attendees, which is far more than backed the Kickstarter that got the event off the ground in the first place. Reports are that it was as inclusive as can be: CBR’s Brett White wrote, “Flame Con made sure everyone was included right from the gate; all the bathrooms were gender neutral and the press was reminded beforehand to ask for people’s preferred pronoun prior to interviews (the mascot, Flamey, prefers they/them/their).” Comic Book Resources and Out both have great rundowns.
  • Here’s an SDCC sweepstakes for the other side of the pond: Syfy UK is giving away a full trip to Comic-Con, open only to UK residents.
  • Comic-Con is bringing the festivities to town a little early this year, opening their first gallery exhibition at the San Diego Central Library. The opening reception will be this Saturday, June 20 at noon. It’s free, so head downtown and start getting in the SDCC spirit!

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What’s Happening This Week (Wednesday, June 17 – Tuesday, June 24)

Organizers: hosting a con soon? Fans: want to help get the word out about your favorite event? Contact us to have it added to the calendar.

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