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WonderCon 2016: Rumor Mill [Update]

If you’ve been under a rock for the last year and are just now being surprised by the fact that WonderCon is at the Los Angeles Convention Center this weekend, here are some answers to the questions frequently generated by the rumor mill.

 

Why did WonderCon leave Anaheim?

WonderCon.7Basically, the Anaheim Convention Center wouldn’t offer usable dates to WonderCon; this had a lot to do with not offering adequate time for setup and tear down, plus use of the Arena. You can read all the details in our Talk Back post from last year.

The Anaheim Convention Center is also undergoing a long period of expansion construction, although that was not specifically given as the reason they couldn’t offer dates.

WonderCon was only in Anaheim for four years, after more than twenty years in the Bay Area.

Is WonderCon permanently in Los Angeles?

We won’t know until they announce dates for 2017. However, Los Angeles did seem more receptive to WonderCon in their announcement last year.

UPDATE: WonderCon will return to Anaheim in 2017, according to Brad Gessner, general manager of the Los Angeles Convention Center/vice president of AEG Facilities.

WonderCon will be back in Anaheim next year, Gessner said, as the LACC wasn’t able to book the preferred dates for the event. “Dates were a prime consideration for choosing L.A.” this year as well, WonderCon’s Glanzer said.

We’ll be at the Talk Back on Sunday afternoon to see if there are any additional developments.

Is San Diego Comic-Con moving to Los Angeles? I heard they trademarked the name “Los Angeles Comic-Con.”

In short: no.

Comic-Con International (CCI), the parent company of San Diego Comic-Con and WonderCon, has had “Los Angeles Comic-Con” filed for trademark since 2009.

This is it’s first actual use, but you can trademark phrases based on intent to use them in the future. It’s only been used in advertising and on the website, and the “Los Angeles Comic-Con” is not found in the 2016 WonderCon QuickGuide.

They did the same with “Anaheim Comic-Con,” which they used when first promoting WonderCon’s move to Anaheim in 2012. It was only used in advertising and the show was never really called “Anaheim Comic-Con,” even after four years in Anaheim.

They’ve also had “San Francisco Comic-Con” trademarked since 2009, though it hasn’t been used yet.

So no, trademarking “Los Angeles Comic-Con” is not a sign of San Diego Comic-Con leaving San Diego, nor does it prove anything else. It’s exactly in line with what CCI did the last time WonderCon moved venues.

(CCI has since filed some more trademark requests, but if you want to read a whole lot more about CCI’s trademarks, we did a post on that last year.)

WonderCon 2016 LACC Banner

WonderCon’s web site using the “Los Angeles Comic-Con” name for the 2016 show.

WonderCon 2012 Anaheim CC Ad

A 2012 WonderCon ad using the “Anaheim Comic-Con” name.

 

But I heard Comic-Con wanted to leave San Diego! Isn’t this a trial run in a bigger convention center?

There’s more in our WonderCon 2015 Talk Back and San Diego Comic-Con 2015 Talk Back recaps, but essentially the issue in San Diego has everything to do with hotel space. Comic-Con supports the expansion of the San Diego Convention Center, but if Comic-Con moves to a new city, it will most likely be due to hotel costs – not convention center space.

UPDATE: LA’s still trying, as LACC’s Gessner said later in the interview above:

In the meantime, L.A. is going to keep lobbying to lure Comic-Con, which is booked in San Diego through 2018. “Much will depend upon negotiations that are currently underway in San Diego,” Glanzer said, but “whether it’s in ’19 or ’20 or’ 21 or beyond, we’re going to keep tying,” Gessner said.

Whenever it comes up with CCI, the stated issue is hotels. LA’s plan to add a few thousand hotel rooms doesn’t change the fact that downtown LA is not a nice place to walk around, and still wouldn’t have enough hotel space within a safe distance.

WonderCon.5Is that why WonderCon isn’t sold out?

Probably – though they’ve sold out the last two years in Anaheim, the combination of a holiday weekend and a new venue has likely contributed to slower ticket sales. (WonderCon has never sold out as quickly as Comic-Con, and usually doesn’t sell out until a few days before or the day of anyway.)

Why is WonderCon on Easter weekend?

Those were the only dates offered by the Anaheim Convention Center in the past. It’s not clear if WonderCon has simply stuck with the holiday weekend in their move to LA, or if LA only offered Easter weekend. Either way, CCI’s staff doesn’t love having to work on Easter. (The Easter-inspired cosplays are great, though!)

Is WonderCon’s space in the LA Convention Center smaller than what they used in the Anaheim Convention Center?

Overall, the square footage is about the same. However, there are some differences when you break it down – and in some cases, Anaheim is superior.

WonderCon claims in their latest Toucan Blog post that “the Exhibit Hall is larger than it’s ever been.” If we’re going simply by raw square footage, though, the exhibit hall (South Hall in Los Angeles) is actually smaller than last year (Halls B, C, and D in Anaheim).

There are fewer programming rooms in LA. Though overall seating remains about even, the loss of two 1,500 seat rooms in Anaheim will affect panel capacities. However, the Microsoft Theater in LA is much larger than the Arena in Anaheim – though how the Microsoft Theater is set up remains to be seen.

Remember that the Arena can seat 7,000 in the round, but WonderCon only uses a little more than half due to the stage setup – so it sat roughly 4,000. The Microsoft Theater can seat 7,100, but stage placement and use of upper levels is yet to be revealed.

If you’re a number nerd, you can click here to see a spreadsheet of the raw square footage and seating comparison.

Are they using RFID at WonderCon to test it before they use it at San Diego Comic-Con?

Sample of the RFID tap stations.

Sample of the RFID tap stations.

Actually, yes – this one is probably true. Comic-Con will be using RFID badges for the first time this summer, so this is a good chance for CCI to work out the details.

Although competing cons like New York Comic Con have used RFID for a few years now, CCI has barely graduated from paper badges printed on-site – so 2016 is bringing them a lot of new challenges with registration. They could use all the practice they can get, so trying RFID at WonderCon is a good plan.

Note that while Comic-Con badges will be mailed out in advance for the first time this year, WonderCon badges must still be picked up in person at the convention center.

 

WonderCon Anaheim 2014.4 smallI heard their new streaming company Comic-Con HQ will be there. Will they be live streaming panels?

No, they will not be live streaming panels.

In fact, at this point they won’t be streaming anything – Comic-Con HQ won’t launch until May. Even so, their recent Comic-Con HQ announcement said they wouldn’t be live streaming any panels. (The mention of live streamed content applies to things other than panels, like the exhibit hall.) They will, however, be broadcasting some panels “on demand” several hours or days after they’ve finished.

Comic-Con HQ will have a booth at WonderCon (booth #1830).

 

Heard any more rumors about WonderCon this year? Leave a comment below!