It was Thursday afternoon as I got closer to the Georgia World Congress Center that I could see banners hanging from the street light poles “Momocon 2015” which featured an adorable child in cosplay, in the arms of a young lady also cosplaying both looking so happy. I was psyched for this con as I had been wanting to attend it for awhile and finally, I got to. It seemed to have everything I liked about a con, they were family friendly, the cosplay guidelines were just as family friendly, but in reality this wasn’t the case- which is something I will cover later.
Parking was a little hard to find, but the best lots for me was the GWCC(Georgia World Congress Center) Red Deck except on Saturday when it was closed off to pass holders for a graduation being held in another part of GWCC. This made parking for everyone tough and often having to pay more to park and a further walk. Getting into this massive convention center and finding your way to registration proved a little tricky, however I did the follow someone else who looks like they know where they are going method and that got me there. Signs pointing to registration would have been wonderful.
Registration for those that pre-registered was quick and friendly, however they greatly encouraged you to download the app for the schedule. This can be an upside and a downside at cons if you use your phone a lot for pictures or finding members of your party. There were charging stations near registration, but not enough plugs for newer iPhones, so bring your wall charger and ask for a paper schedule at registration.
Thursday while there were some panels, I mostly spent my time learning where everything was at, most panels were held in Building A of the GWCC and only one room known as the Villain room was in the host hotel, the Omni, and was used for panels. The great thing about this is both the Omni and the GWCC connected by a hallway so you could avoid the weather and the heat or if you wanted to get to either building you could walk outside through the courtyard. The courtyard was often a place a lot of groups used for photos or meet ups, there was even outdoor mock sword fighting with foam swords.
I did attend one panel that evening by Crunchyroll on classic animes. These were clips of animes a lot of us had forgotten about in the 90’s and some that should probably have stayed that way. The variety of panels were good ranging from series specific, cosplay how to’s, and there was even a room just to read mangas. This was a nice oasis if you are one of those people who gets overwhelmed with crowds or you just wanted a place to sit down and explore a manga you haven’t read before. After some of the panels, let’s just say I am ready to start trying to cast my own props, light up said props, and then get more addicted to FUNimation’s BlazBlue which premiered Friday at the con.
The dealer room which also combined with the autograph signing area and artist alley were in a very large room on the bottom floor of building A. There was some confusion on how the autograph signings worked for some guests that was not made clear to con goers before hand, such as one guest had numbers given out to those in line to limit how many autographs they did. Many attendees did not know this till they had gotten half way into the line. This led to frustration.
I loved the fact the con connected up to the CNN building through the Omni Hotel as it gave you a break from the main con and they had a great food court with something for everyone. Usually in my group we have one who is a vegetarian and often in convention halls that is a very slim pickins’ for that person. Building A had food vendors with it’s usual fair of pizza, hot dogs, and other usual offerings, but the CNN food court was a big step up from most cons. They had the usual fast food chains, Moe’s, Arby’s, Dunkin Donuts, even a Starbucks. What we liked best was a place called Fresh2Go, it had seating within, refills (you go to stay hydrated), fresh made food and something for everyone from chicken to black bean burgers. It’s often hard to eat well while at a con and this was something we all agreed we really liked about the con. These places close around 8 or 9pm, so if you wanted a late night nosh while waiting to get into the rave, Taco Mac was open late. The only downside is by Saturday night they had ran out of chicken tenders and hamburgers. I feel however next year, they will be prepared for the crowds and this won’t be an issue.
This con was heavily advertised as family friendly, but that is somewhat debatable. My youngest sister, Leora, was horrified by some of the cosplays which included a male wearing flesh colored underwear, cardboard wings covering his crotch, no shirt, duct tape on his nipples and topped it off with a polka dot women’s thong on his head. I don’t even want to think of the view that the young child got from their vantage point of the acres of uncovered butt cheeks. I heard there was attempts to control these types of issues, but apparently it was not enforced widely enough. In the dealer room I think it would have been to everyone’s advantage to have more con staff mingling among the crowd. More than one person complained of being touched inappropriately and the members of my party witnessed first hand other cosplayers being unnecessarily touched and essentially groped in what the groper pretend was an “accident”.
Disability accessibility at cons is important because everyone should be able to fully engage in activities as much as possible. The good news was the elevators were restricted to just those with disabilities and their party members so they weren’t crowded with con goers who can easily access the escalators. All of the rooms seem to have ample space for a wheelchair, but unfortunately some of the doors were not manned by staff and once they were closed when a panel started there was no one readily available to open the door for someone who might need assistance. Dealer room and the gaming room both had aisle with plenty of space which was good. I didn’t get to attend the cosplay contest, but I did see photos of a young boy in a wheelchair who participated. It seems like people were sensitive to accessibility issues, but other disabilities may have gone unaddressed in training. I spoke with one con goer who attended with her therapy dog. The dog was properly identifiable with the service vest, so there should have been no confusion about it’s purpose there. However she found some of the staff and as well as con goers unwilling to follow proper etiquette. They went out of the way to distract the dog, to pet the dog, and to engage in other behaviors that most of us should understand that are not appropriate with a working service animal. Perhaps some of the con goers did not grasp the situation, but certainly the staff should have. She purchased a four day pass and only stayed for less than two hours one day.
Another con goer with a disability was unable to attend the one rave due to the flashing lights. She has epilepsy and as well know from the early Pokemon series and video games, flashing lights can set off seizures in people with this disorder. It was really surprising to me a con this size had exactly one rave and no alternatives. Most cons of this size tend to have some choices in parties so this is usually not an issue.
Security within the buildings were decent, but outside in the courtyard between the two buildings and along the walkway to the Marriott parking deck, security was very much lacking. I was followed one night by a would be creeper who tried to follow me into the parking deck and I had to shake him off by making up a story that I had to go back to the host hotel. I found another female going to the deck as well, but it didn’t make me feel very safe staying out late again. This is something that needs to be improved.
On Sunday I talked to a variety of con goers including some who had attended this con in previous years, some who had been to others and not this one, and some whom this was their very first con. All of them agreed it was fun. Most of them said they would return next year, but all of them pointed out some issues that should be addressed. The most common were the lack of visible volunteers and staff, the need for clearer costuming guidelines and more security outside and inside the con. To paraphrase a con goer I spoke to, Momocon is taking place in downtown Atlanta which is known for DragonCon and all that implies. If it’s going to be a family friendly event it needs to insure it differentiate itself from DragonCon so that families who attend see that wholesome image presented with that cute little kid being hugged by another cosplayer and not guy with lady’s underwear on his head.
I am leaning towards attending this con again next year, but whether or not depends largely how the con organizers handle the complaints and concerns from this year’s con.