I have been going to Animazement since 2009! It's a pretty good con. I'd recommend having at least $200 (minimum) to spend on things you may want to buy from the Artist Alley and the Dealer's Room. As far as hotel preference goes, I'd say it's up to you. The primary hotel (The Marriott) is located right across the street from the Convention Center. It has an underground passage (great for when it rains), three game rooms and if you like Starbucks... there's a Starbucks too. The Sheraton (Primary Overflow Hotel) is beside the Marriott (separated by a parking deck). It has a sandwich/pizza shop (Sam and Wally's) downstairs. If you don't book a room at either of those, the Clarion is within walking distance but I recommend having a car and parking in the parking deck so you don't have to walk back and forth if you want to put your stuff down. Just check the site under "general info" for hotels in the surrounding area. If you walk up the passage between the two hotels (Marriott/Sheraton) or walk out of the back door of the Sheraton, you'll have a handful of restaurants for you to chose from. Fire Wok, Shish Kabob, Jimmy Johns, a pizza place annnnnnd there's a McDonald's within walking distance that Con-goers frequent. Oh! And a Chick-Fil-A that closes at two (PM). I'd keep going but I'm sure you get the point, there are plenty of places to eat in downtown Raleigh. The "R" Line is a free line that runs through downtown and stops in front of the Convention center. I've never been on it personally, however, I hear it's a great way to become familiar with your surroundings. Prepare yourself for random high fives, free hugs and when the night time comes, drunk people and glowsticks. Nothing to worry about really considering that most of the drunk people there stay to themselves or with their groups. However, one time last year, there was one person who came up to me and a group of my friends and tried to start a confrontation for no reason. The dances (Friday and Saturday Night) take place both in and outside of the convention center. If the dance (rave) inside is going through a boring spell, I've noticed that the one outside will be a bit more entertaining during that time and vice versa. You'll have plenty to do both day and night. You can learn Japanese or learn how to make your own plushie. Attend "Anime Hell". Go to a couple of concerts with traditional Japanese music or J-Rock (NOIZ has been a frequent guest) or other genres. Whatever you do, please wear shoes and have your badge in clear sight or face the wrath of the staff members. A brief note on shoes: Make sure all pairs of shoes you wear at the con are comfortable and can withstand the many hikes you will take at AZ! If you have to purchase Dr. Scholl's beforehand, do so! The last thing you'd want is for your con experience to be ruined because you have sore feet. Most people that attend Animazement are friendly but every year I manage to meet a handful of people that aren't so nice and can be pretty cocky. On the bright side, it's easy to make friends! Not 72-hour friends but establish legitimate friendships.
Ramen... free hugs... and more ramen
Animazement (6th year, May 23-25)
Sora (Anti-Sora, Brave form, Halloween Town, Christmas Town)