While you sit and watch our twitter with bated breath, waiting to experience Dragon Con vicariously through us, I would like to take this opportunity to explain why we did not go to Wizard World: Chicago which took place just last weekend.
Despite previous bad experiences such as very bad crowd control, poorly managed queues for panels, and bad communication among volunteer staff, I was willing to give Wizard World a go this year for one simple reason: they had the Doctor. Matt Smith, the Eleventh Doctor, and Karen Gillan, his companion Amy Pond. This was my first opportunity to see a Doctor or Companion of the new series. When I saw them listed I knew I had to go even if it meant I had to spend all day camped out to get into a panel.
When the schedule was finally released I was immediately disappointed. Matt Smith was only scheduled to have one Q&A the entire weekend, which means every one of his fans would devote themselves to getting into that room all at once. On top of that, Karen Gillan would be on that same Q&A, and only have one other Q&A session the rest of the weekend, the day before, with other non-Doctor Who guests I neither know or particularly care about.
Every time I talk with a fellow convention goers about Wizard World, the first comment I receive is about how pricey it is. One day at Wizard World is consistently more expensive than a day at C2E2, and size-wise I consider them to be reasonably close. If you go for a day, you want to make sure you’re going to be able to see who you want to see.
When I realized that Smith and Gillan’s one and only Q&A would be held at the local theater and you had to purchase your seat separately from your membership to the convention, I was livid. Main floor seats were going for over $100. The cheap seats in the balcony were starting at $39, which I felt was at least more reasonable. However I didn’t go for it because a balcony seat is all well and good for a dance or theater performance, but for a sit down Q&A as Wizard World usually has, I felt my chances of actually seeing their faces much, let alone getting a good camera shot from up above, was not good enough to pay that price.
I can understand the need to have Smith and Gillan’s Q&A in a larger capacity venue than what might be available at Stephen’s Convention Center. The theater could conceivably hold three times as many people as the room they used for Bruce Campbell’s Q&A in 2011. That was a line, let me tell you! I can even understand needing to charge a small fee to cover the use of the theater. Say $20 for panel style first-come-first-served seating. But to charge $114 for one seat in row G of the main floor to see a one hour Q&A where, if they even take audience questions at all it’s only ever for the last 20 minutes? No thank you. I’ll save my money for Dragon Con and search YouTube for their TV interviews instead!
I can’t help but feel this is nothing short of price gouging on the part of Wizard World. Take the biggest guests and tell everyone they’ll have to pay another $40 to see their only on stage appearance on top of their membership and parking fees. It’s ridiculous and we shouldn’t stand for it. This con is already expensive enough and everyone who’s ever even considered going knows it. Membership, exhibitionist, and vendor’s fees should be enough to compensate the guest celebrities, and if they are not enough maybe they should stop inviting wrestlers!
I think there is a lot more to be said on this topic of how some conventions treat fans. What do you think? What experiences do you have, either good or bad, in regard to conventions giving respect and appreciation to the fans who come to see their favorite actors? We want to hear from you! Comment below!