Update (7/8/18): An updated version of “The State of the Con” has been published, you can find my thoughts here.
Just spent the last 12 hours on the floor at Anime Expo, and what a blast it’s been! Celebrating its 25th anniversary, AX has brought a staggering amount of talent here to LA. Of course, these guests will be holding panels discussing their careers, screening new projects and otherwise entertaining their fans. It’s the access to these panels are at the center of today’s monumental shift in value for the premier fan badge.
Veterans of major conventions like Comic-Con know just how time consuming getting into the biggest panels can be. Hours of standing in line to secure a spot, all the while missing convention activities.
For premier fans, however, it’s a different experience. Last night I went to the Toonami industry panel approximately 15 minutes before it was supposed to open. The general admission line wrapped around the building and was capped pretty early for a 1500 person panel room. Being premier, however l, I was able to get in a line of ~75 people and secure a spot near the front with ease.
This was my experience all day yesterday, and while it wasn’t a particularly panel-heavy day, the convenience has thrown some significant value behind the premier badge’s hefty price-tag.
In addition to the panel privileges, one of the biggest claims to fame for premier fans is early access to Anime Expo’s sprawling Exhibit Hall on Day 1.
With over 400 vendors, the Anime Expo exhibit hall is a shopping utopia for fans: offering a wide variety of goods, whether you’re looking to pick up your favorite anime on Blu-ray or a limited edition art book, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for.
Getting into the hall an hour early meant first dibs on convention exclusives, as well as an early pass on industry guest autograph sessions. I used the opportunity to take in as much of the hall as I could, as well as picking up an industry autograph session with Christopher Sabat and Justin Briner, the English voices of All-Might and Midoriya in My Hero Academia.*
Being my first time utilizing premier benefits, I’m sure I could’ve made much more use of my time, as the hour certainly seemed to drag on, giving premier fans ample opportunity to get their shopping done in a much less congested environment.
Overall, Day 1 was all it took for me to see the full value behind this premier badge. Could improvements be made to the program? Absolutely. An autograph voucher, higher quality swag bag contents, more clearly defined benefits/rules and areas for premier fans to line up…these are just a few ways they could step up their game to cater to fans committed to investing so much of their hard earned cash to this event.
That being said, the event ticket, early access to exhibit hall and most importantly, the front-of-line privileges for panels, takes the value of this badge over the top for me. When so much of enjoying a con has to do with your management of time, being able to free up literally hours upon hours of time not having to wait in lines for panels gives you the freedom to see more things and experience the convention to its fullest.
I will continue to be covering the con over the weekend. Tomorrow I have approximately 5 panels I’ll be going to, so I’ll be sure to keep you all updated!
Until next time, the ticker has been updated:
Anyone else at Anime Expo? What are your thoughts? Let us know in the comments or on our Discord server!
You can find the final entry of my premier fan experience here.