Wizard World - Reno 2014

This year, I attended my first Wizard World convention. In preparing for this occasion, I frequently checked the roster on the the Wizard World website, where they keep a list of the notable guests scheduled to attend, which days they will be there, and the prices for their photo-ops, autographs, and the VIP options for those that offer them. If you're planning on going, you can also book your hotel room through the Wizard World website, where they offer deals on hotels close to the convention centre where the con will take place.

I had initially expected to meet just a few people, due to limited funds, but upon getting to the con Friday night, I found that many of the celebrity guests offered the much more affordable option of paying just $20 for a photo with them using your own phone/camera/device, which was preferable to my budget compared to the autograph or photo-op options. It should be noted that you can purchase many of your autographs and photo-ops in advance, but many can also be purchased at the con itself, but then it is a cash-only policy.

First order of events was to get a photo-op with Walter Koenig, most famously known as Pavel Chekov from the original series of Star Trek. I was beaming because I'm a huge fan of the original series and I'm sure he could tell how excited I was since I couldn't resist giving him a hug before we took our photo. Another tip for those of you going to any convention where you plan on getting photo-ops is to bring your own plastic sheet or something similar in which you can safely store your print so it doesn't get ruined.

If you're wondering how to know who offers the option to just purchase a $20 photo at their table, you can usually go and ask the Wizard World volunteer managing their line (they're easily spotted in their bright yellow shirts). Though not all offer the $20 photo option, some will include a free photo to be taken with them if you purchase their autograph.

The next person I met was Scott Wilson (Hershel from "The Walking Dead"), with whom I got a photo. He was nice enough to greet me with a big hug. Next, I went over to get a photo with Michael Rooker (Merle from "The Walking Dead," Yondu from "Guardians of the Galaxy"). He was so charismatic that he kept everyone else's energy up, from the people working his booth to the crowd waiting in line. I asked if we could do "Dancing Groot" for our photo, since I'd seen Youtube videos of him doing it with fans at other cons, and he was more than happy to indulge my request! Some time later, I went to met Sean Patrick Flanery (Connor from "Boondock Saints") and he was very funny as well. A simple "Hey" from me sent him spinning off into a ramble about the 90s TV show "Moesha."

The next day there were far more guests in attendance, as Saturdays tend to be the busiest days. One of those guests was Andrew J. West (Gareth from "The Walking Dead") and he had brought along his fiancée Amber Stevens (Maya from "22 Jump Street"), whom I spotted walking around the exhibit hall. I stopped to ask her for a photo and we got to chatting about representation in media. I offered up many recommendations for different shows that are serving up the diversity. We also found out that an 11-year-old girl had passed out in line to meet Andrew. He apparently kept stopping the line to check if she was okay. Later that evening, I went and grabbed a photo with Jewel Staite (Kaylee from "Firefly"). I mentioned how I had hoped to meet her at Comikaze but had to skip doing so since meeting Stan Lee had depleted my con funds. She had gorgeous red hair and her whole team of people were really nice. Saturday was also the one day that Norman Reedus (Daryl from "The Walking Dead") was in attendance and his line was jam-packed for the whole day. If you're hoping to meet Norman at Wizard World, I would definitely recommend purchasing your autographs/photo-ops/VIP passes in advance so as to not miss out when you actually get there.

Final day of Wizard World, and I took the time to meet more folks from "The Walking Dead." Jon Bernthal was still signing and he was also a bit tired. I asked if he was hungover and he said he simply hadn't gotten any sleep the prior night. His response when I asked why? "Because I'm an idiot, that's why." I had myself a giggle over that one, and got a photo with him before telling him to feel better and rest up soon as he could. Finally, I went and met Andrew J. West (again - since I'd met him once with Amber the day before, and again when I went through his line with some people who asked me to take their photo for them). The people in front of me in the line had brought along plastic silverware and asked him to pose as if he was going to eat one of them, which he happily obliged. We took our photos together before I had to run off and catch my flight.

My first Wizard World was an excellent learning experience and I'd be more than happy to attend one again, particularly if it's at a location close in proximity to where I am and has guests that I'm keen on meeting. Many of the cast members from "The Walking Dead" (be they current or prior) tend to do Wizard Worlds so if you're a fan of the show, these are definitely cons I'd recommend attending if you'd like to meet them. Many of the celebrities who attend these cons are not there in an official promotional sense. They tend to go because they enjoy interacting with the fans so enjoy every moment of it!


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