I spent this past Easter among cosplayers, nerds and geeks of several fandoms at WonderCon. WonderCon is an annual pop culture convention currently being held in Anaheim, California every spring. It boasts of nearly 50,000 attendees, over 800 exhibitors, and approximately 250 hours of programming. WonderCon is produced and operated by San Diego Comic-Con International.
This has been my third time attending WonderCon and I say with certainty this con is growing in popularity. This is made most noticeable by the wait time to get into panels. To get into Sunday’s Nerdist panel in the Arena, which serves as the equivalent to SDCC’s Hall H, I waited in line for two hours before the panel started. I scored amazing seats for this panel. However last year, I walked into Joss Whedon’s Much Ado panel about 5 minutes before it started and scored decent floor seats.
Another incident pointing toward growth is the selling out of badges. If you have plans to attend this con next year be sure to get your tickets early. Three day badges and Saturday only badges sold out before the con, and by Saturday morning Sunday only badges had also sold out. The badges for WonderCon are fairly priced.
WonderCon does partner with hotels to offer special discounts for attendees. I would definitely recommend staying at the Anaheim Mariott Hotel or Hilton Anaheim if feasible. If not, there are a ton of hotels and motels in the immediate surrounding area that are within reasonable walking distance.
This is an excellent pop culture con to pick up your favorite comic, movie or television related merchandise. There is a great selection of tees, comics, prints and many exclusives to browse through.
This convention also attracts a high level of cosplay. Notable cosplayers at this con included Yaya Han, who signed prints at the Lion Forge booth, and Abby Darkstar, Wind of the Stars, and Ivy Doom Kitty who were featured at the Webble booth. Even if you’re not a professional cosplayer this community is incredibly accepting of novices. It really is about having fun and find other people who can share your fandom. If want a chance to view all the excellent cosplay an spot is right outside the front of the main convention hall by the water fountain. This is where many people hang out and show off their work. Of course, there is also the Masquerade, where professionals and amateurs alike compete for prizes. This year’s Mistress of Ceremonies was Ashley Eckstein.
Between all the panels offered and the huge exhibit hall you’re going to want to get food at some point. I would recommend staying away from convention food unless absolutely necessary. It is extremely over priced. Just outside the convention hall in the Marriot Hotel is a small food court that also includes a Starbucks. This is also the second year that WonderCon has hosted a small set of food trucks to set up in the main drag.
I was able to sit in on some panels this weekend as well. I caught the last half of the DC Comics: Batman panel and listened to the amazing Gail Simone talk about the upcoming Batgirl issues. I’m really looking forward to the upcoming issues #32-34 in which Gail said that everything she’s been asking to put into the comics for the last three years will finally come into fruition.
I attended both the Warner Brothers and 20th Century Fox presentations. First up for Warner Brothers was “Edge of Tomorrow” starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt and featuring panelist Bill Paxton. The audience was treated to some extended footage of the movie.
Then came “Into the Storm” featuring panelists Steven Quale, Richard Armitage, Max Deacon, Arlen Escarpeta, and Jeremy Sumpter. Again, and really this is what these large movie panels are about, the audience saw extended footage of the movie.
The final Warner Brothers presentation was for Godzilla featuring panelist Gareth Edwards. This was an amazing treat presented by Edwards who gave the audience an awesome full body look at Godzilla and a special surprise story line.
After the Warner Brothers came the 20th Century Fox movie presentations. Fox kicked off with “How To Train Your Dragon 2” featuring panelists Dean DeBlois and Jay Baruchel. The audience was treated to the first 5 minutes of the movie.
This was followed up with “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” featuring panelists Matt Reaves, Keri Russell, Gary Oldman, and Andy Serkis. The audience was able to see an extended trailer with additional featured footage.
“The Maze Runner” came next with panelists James Dashner, Wes Ball, Will Poulter and Dylan O’Brien with some great movie footage. A special surprise was an extended feature trailer for the upcoming movie “Secret Service.” And Fox then closed with footage of the upcoming “X-Men” featuring Simon Kinberg.
Next I caught the Bob’s Burgers panel with panelists Loren Bouchard, Dan Mintz, Kristen Sachel, John Roberts, and Larry Murphey. The audience was treated to an upcoming episode and the “lyrics” to the opening theme before the floor was opened to a Q&A session.
The final panel I caught for the weekend was the Nerdist panel in the Arena. This panel was hosted by Chris Hardwick and featured panelists Jessica Chobot, Brian Walton, Dan Casey, Malik Forte, Ben Acker, Ben Blacker, and Jocelyn Hughes. This was an extremely fun panel with Hardwick talking about what’s up and coming for the Nerdist channel and podcasts as well as the future of the Nerdist franchise. I had a great time at this con and would definitely recommend attending if you want an idea of San Diego Comic-Con International without the headache of the crowds and chaos that surrounds it. Also, when you’re done at the end of the day you can easily enjoy Disneyland and/or Medieval Times.