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Unread 01-09-2013, 04:26 PM   #61
Eurobeat King
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ALA 2013 was my 4th year in a row, and 7th overall. It's still a fun convention to go to, and nice way to start the new year, even though it was still freezing cold all weekend and windy..

I was able to pick-up my pre-registration at 10:00pm on Thursday so that was nice w/o having to wake-up early on Friday and wait in that semi-long line. But another year with pre-reg, I didn't really need the badge all weekend for panels, the Dealers' Room, Masquerade, and other rooms downstairs. The only time I needed my badge was for the Con Suite and when they did badge-checks at the door, and occasional staffers coming-up and asking to see my badge. (That only happened once the entire weekend.)

With the badge-checking at the main door to the Pool Area (PA), it made it worth having a badge, but I feel that the PA will always be the most crowded area at ALA, regardless if people are checking badges or not. Each day the PA was crowded, but only on Saturday I noticed that there was a staffer checking badges. I don't recall seeing anyone there on Friday and definitely not on Sunday. Just the sign on the door which said "Badge Zone" isn't enough to deter people from going outside without a badge.

And even if there was a staffer who was checking badges at that main door all weekend, there's still at-least 3 entrances into the PA that people can enter without a badge (4 if you count through the gymnasium if it wasn't under renovation.)

Overall, I enjoyed this year at ALA and will definitely return next year.
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Unread 01-09-2013, 04:36 PM   #62
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And even if there was a staffer who was checking badges at that main door all weekend, there's still at-least 3 entrances into the PA that people can enter without a badge (4 if you count through the gymnasium if it wasn't under renovation.)
On Saturday when they were checking at the door, there was also at least one guy (and maybe more) roaming around the pool deck and asking people to see their badge.
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Unread 01-09-2013, 07:46 PM   #63
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This was not only my first ALA, but my first con in general. I went into it - and I'm going into this review - without any point of comparison to other cons. I've been to many professional conferences, but that's a different story, for the most part!

That said, I enjoyed myself the entire weekend, and would gladly return to ALA. The entire convention was incredibly smoothly-run, as far as I could tell. Check-in was easy, and I never saw more than a short line at registration. It was easy to find information on timing and location of panels, and I thought the fifteen minute gap between panels worked well. The cosplay gatherings I attended took exactly their allotted time. The only line I had to wait in for the entire event was for the Masquerade, and even that line was moving the entire time I was in it. Also, back in November, when I inquired about whether or not the hotel block was full, I got an immediate response from Chaz himself, and he also emailed me again right when more rooms opened up. This is a con staff that really cares about how things are going, and I think that's awesome.

On the topic of the hotel block, I suppose the quick selling out might suggest the need for a bigger venue in the future. I didn't feel like things were too crowded actually inside the convention spaces, though, but I may be used to the chaos that comes between sessions in a professional conference in my field. The hall spaces at ALA did have a lot of people, but it was a pretty chill environment; the lack of chaotic rushing (for the most part) didn't make it feel like space was a problem. The only place where I did feel very cramped was the Artists' Hall. That would benefit from being larger, both for space to walk and for space to allow more people to present their work.

Badge checks? I expected them and I have no problem with them. Big events take money to set up, and it's only fair that the people allowed to enjoy them are the ones who contributed, especially with such awesome things like free food at the con suite. Given how local cons seem to be spaced over the year, and given that the pre-reg price was only $35 for students, it doesn't seem even slightly unreasonable that even younger members could raise that money over a few months (nor is it a huge amount to ask of parents). I really don't think anything needs to be changed about the badges.

I enjoyed the programming I went to. The Masquerade was very very fun, both the skits and the intermission acts. I liked how there was a range of panel topics, from more series-specific things to general anime stuff to cosplay and industry. The latter two were especially of interest to me, since I'm pretty new to cosplay, and since I like drawing stuff. On that note, if I could make a programming suggestion, I would love to see more art/drawing panels and events. The comics industry content was very good, but why not also have some actual drawing/inking/coloring/etc. workshops? I heard talk of there being some sort of Homestuck drawing gathering, but nothing concrete about time or place, so why not actually formally schedule some sort of drawing room or event? I think that'd be a fun addition to the con.

Lastly, I'd gotten the impression from these forums that ALA is awesome for cosplay, and it exceeded my expectations. So much creativity and so much awesome execution! It was great to see everyone in the halls, and the response to my own costumes (even my weird OCs) made me feel like less of a total noob.

Soooo. Long story short, I thought ALA was great and would gladly go again. Maybe it was even more awesome in the past, I don't know, but it's still a very fine con now.
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Unread 01-10-2013, 01:20 AM   #64
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seismogenic View Post
This was not only my first ALA, but my first con in general. I went into it - and I'm going into this review - without any point of comparison to other cons. I've been to many professional conferences, but that's a different story, for the most part!

That said, I enjoyed myself the entire weekend, and would gladly return to ALA. The entire convention was incredibly smoothly-run, as far as I could tell. Check-in was easy, and I never saw more than a short line at registration. It was easy to find information on timing and location of panels, and I thought the fifteen minute gap between panels worked well. The cosplay gatherings I attended took exactly their allotted time. The only line I had to wait in for the entire event was for the Masquerade, and even that line was moving the entire time I was in it. Also, back in November, when I inquired about whether or not the hotel block was full, I got an immediate response from Chaz himself, and he also emailed me again right when more rooms opened up. This is a con staff that really cares about how things are going, and I think that's awesome.

On the topic of the hotel block, I suppose the quick selling out might suggest the need for a bigger venue in the future. I didn't feel like things were too crowded actually inside the convention spaces, though, but I may be used to the chaos that comes between sessions in a professional conference in my field. The hall spaces at ALA did have a lot of people, but it was a pretty chill environment; the lack of chaotic rushing (for the most part) didn't make it feel like space was a problem. The only place where I did feel very cramped was the Artists' Hall. That would benefit from being larger, both for space to walk and for space to allow more people to present their work.

Badge checks? I expected them and I have no problem with them. Big events take money to set up, and it's only fair that the people allowed to enjoy them are the ones who contributed, especially with such awesome things like free food at the con suite. Given how local cons seem to be spaced over the year, and given that the pre-reg price was only $35 for students, it doesn't seem even slightly unreasonable that even younger members could raise that money over a few months (nor is it a huge amount to ask of parents). I really don't think anything needs to be changed about the badges.

I enjoyed the programming I went to. The Masquerade was very very fun, both the skits and the intermission acts. I liked how there was a range of panel topics, from more series-specific things to general anime stuff to cosplay and industry. The latter two were especially of interest to me, since I'm pretty new to cosplay, and since I like drawing stuff. On that note, if I could make a programming suggestion, I would love to see more art/drawing panels and events. The comics industry content was very good, but why not also have some actual drawing/inking/coloring/etc. workshops? I heard talk of there being some sort of Homestuck drawing gathering, but nothing concrete about time or place, so why not actually formally schedule some sort of drawing room or event? I think that'd be a fun addition to the con.

Lastly, I'd gotten the impression from these forums that ALA is awesome for cosplay, and it exceeded my expectations. So much creativity and so much awesome execution! It was great to see everyone in the halls, and the response to my own costumes (even my weird OCs) made me feel like less of a total noob.

Soooo. Long story short, I thought ALA was great and would gladly go again. Maybe it was even more awesome in the past, I don't know, but it's still a very fine con now.
Actually, there's Homestuck drawing event on late Friday night. I was there but we got move to much bigger room when it got bit crowded. It was pretty fun event with everyone just talking and chilling.
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Unread 01-10-2013, 02:13 AM   #65
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Actually, there's Homestuck drawing event on late Friday night. I was there but we got move to much bigger room when it got bit crowded. It was pretty fun event with everyone just talking and chilling.
Gah! I would have been so down to go to that!
I wonder, then, since informal things like this apparently just pop up, if it'd be beneficial to have some sort of physical message board in the con space for announcing impromptu gatherings.
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Unread 01-10-2013, 02:37 AM   #66
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A little context, I'm almost exclusively a cosplayer who just wanders the halls with no intention of participating in panels or masquerade. One of the two reasons for me attending this convention for the first time was my partner was going to participate in the fashion show, however, couldn't. The other reason was because I was curious about the con since seeing videos of just how beautiful the con is. Another piece of context, most if not all of my costumes consist of huge wings.

On my scouting mission before suiting up after picking up my badge, I've wandered the grounds to see where a cosplayer can be seen. Walking through the grounds, I've noticed that there were quite a few signs stating badge required and even the pool area, which really astounded me. Cosplay meetups held in badge only area's kind of throw me in a loop but because I feel that since I'm using the space, as a thanks I buy badges even if I don't use it.

The con suite really astounded me that they're giving food to the attendees and even bottled water. This is such a rarity and it was greatly appreciated as I had tipped most times I went in.

Now, while in costume, I appreciated the fact that there were plenty of seats in the lobby area as someone who wears wings for each and every cosplay, it was definitely needed.

I wish there were more lights in the pool area as once it turns dark in these short days, the lobby gets crazy packed.

I wasn't aware of the free photoshoot only until I had read this thread. Perhaps more signs?

Was there something going on in the room next to the artist alley?

While on topic of artist alley, I'm quite surprised that ALA separated AA from Dealer's Hall which is very different from the other cons I've attended. I'd think this would harm both the dealers and artist's since they're both looking to make sales.

Drawing this post to a close, perhaps ALA should expand to the other hotels nearby like the Hilton next door which would be great. The amount of time it would take to do the logistics would be well worth it especially since you have this location for two more years. However, if this path is taken, please watch Youmacon closely and learn from their errors where there was a great deal of issues that came up with it.

My overall experience was pretty interesting and I had enjoyed myself. I got the chance to hang out and get some great shots with my partner, which made it worth going out of my way to attend this convention. Despite saying this though, I more than likely will not be returning to this convention unless it is extremely convenient in terms of time.
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Unread 01-10-2013, 03:18 AM   #67
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Gah! I would have been so down to go to that!
I wonder, then, since informal things like this apparently just pop up, if it'd be beneficial to have some sort of physical message board in the con space for announcing impromptu gatherings.
I first learned about this on Facebook. Perhaps I should have post about this on this board if that would be more helpful? I honestly had so much fun at this event. Sorry that you miss out on this event.
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Unread 01-10-2013, 04:39 AM   #68
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So, I checked out Regency Dance after 2 years. What's the big deal about that event at the end of the con? I couldn't get into it and it has never change when I last went 2 years ago. My Ballroom Dance Lesson and Cosplay Ballroom/Social dancing 101 made more sense.
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Unread 01-10-2013, 08:39 AM   #69
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Do keep in mind that attendees aren't supposed to get their entire con sustenance from the con suite. Besides, restaurants aren't even that far away. Carl's Jr. and Denny's are both a short walk from the hotel.
I actually did not get food at the con suite once this con. I was just trying to comment that there isn't a way to get meals without actually leaving the hotel, sorry if you misunderstood me. I actually have a physical disability that prevents me from being able to walk too far, plus I had responsibilities in the Artist Alley, so I was wishing there was an easier way to get food, like borrowing a microwave or having a cheap food vendor there. There probably isn't anything the convention can do about this, but it would be nice, especially since I know a lot of people who didn't get to eat as much as they should have.
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Unread 01-10-2013, 04:39 PM   #70
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I actually did not get food at the con suite once this con. I was just trying to comment that there isn't a way to get meals without actually leaving the hotel, sorry if you misunderstood me. I actually have a physical disability that prevents me from being able to walk too far, plus I had responsibilities in the Artist Alley, so I was wishing there was an easier way to get food, like borrowing a microwave or having a cheap food vendor there. There probably isn't anything the convention can do about this, but it would be nice, especially since I know a lot of people who didn't get to eat as much as they should have.
That being said, I wonder if there's a way to get a food truck to come on by and feed the attendees.
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Unread 01-10-2013, 05:11 PM   #71
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That being said, I wonder if there's a way to get a food truck to come on by and feed the attendees.
I don't think so. The only places for them to park on site would be either in the back alley or blocking part of the parking or ways in and out of them.
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Unread 01-10-2013, 06:24 PM   #72
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The food truck idea would be very cool if it could work, spacewise. Korean tacos, anyone?!

But there were ways to get food at the con itself? I ate at the hotel restaurants a few times, and they were full of cosplayers. They are really more expensive than a burger place ought to be, but there was definitely a huge convenience factor.
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Unread 01-10-2013, 08:13 PM   #73
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Was there something going on in the room next to the artist alley?
AA takes up all of Meridian (the ballroom on the lobby level). There are no other meeting rooms on that floor. Unless you are referring to the JW restaurant (the high-end steak place) that was rarely, if ever, open during the weekend. However that is not a place that is available for convention use.
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Unread 01-11-2013, 10:08 AM   #74
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Unread 01-11-2013, 02:57 PM   #75
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