As I do before every convention I go to, I made a list of things I wanted to buy, people I wanted to meet, Q&As I wanted to attend and various other things I wanted to do at this past weekend's Wizard World Philadelphia.
More often than not, my wishlist is overstuffed, so that even if I can only get to a few of the items, I still feel like I had a good show. I knew Philadelphia would be a good experience no matter what, because I was meeting up with a group of "con friends", but somehow things broke so that the show -- for me -- ran smoother than just about any I'd been to in years.
(This is the point where I have to note two things. First, four guests who I'd wanted to see canceled their appearances, two of them very early on, and two of them within a week of the show. So that sucked, but didn't really negatively impact my actual time in Phladelphia. Secondly, this is very much a YMMV recap. As I understand it, there were definitely instances of things going horribly wrong for people, including the theft of hundreds of photo ops prints. But my experience, which is what I'm recapping, ran as smooth as it could have).
THURSDAYI took the train in from Hartford to Philadelphia on Thursday morning, so I'd arrive in plenty of time for preview night. A few people asked me why I took the train instead of flying. Well, it cost about a third as much as a flight, didn't take significantly longer (once you factor in arriving early at the airport to go through security) and was more accomodating for my luggage -- something that definitely came into play on the trip back.
My hotel was nice, and my room was ready when I arrived at noon, which was extra nice. One piece of advice I'd give to convention-goers related to hotels is if you can afford it, stay as close to the convention center as possible. Time is as much a commodity at these shows as money, and the less time you have to spend getting to and from your hotel the better.
My missions on Thursday were two-fold: get as many of the comics I'd brought from home signed and take care of as much of my comics buying as possible. Normally I recommend waiting until the last day of a show to buy anything, but in this case there was a run of comics I wanted to buy that I ALSO wanted to get signed, so I had to do that early just to ensure I could. Not only did I take care of getting about 75% of the books I brought signed, I also got two pieces of original artwork, one from Ramon F. Bachs and one from Mike Deodato Jr. Not a bad day.
I honestly spent more time on the show floor on Thursday than I'd anticipated, but it was worth it to get a sense of the layout, check out a few booths that I wanted to re-visit Sunday for shopping purposes and even take care of getting a signature from one of the few celebrities who did arrive in his booth on Thursday, Lou Ferrigno. Also, preview night is always the one time at a con where you can walk around without accidentally physically bumping into a million people, and this was no exception.