The doors opened at 9:30 AM for VIPS, so we got up around 8 AM to give us enough time to shower, catch the train and walk the short distance to The Donald B. Stephens Center. I woke up first, and enjoyed the twenty minutes of silence in the nicest hotel room I’d ever been in. I sat in my awesome ergonomic chair, fiddling on my phone, and just trying to take in the whole experience. It was raining and must have rained all night, because a quick glance out the window showed a storm drain overflowing and rushing into the road. That didn’t bode well for the 0.3 mile walk from the Rosemont Transit Center to the convention center, but there wasn’t much we could do about that.
We got showered, dressed, and headed downstairs where we stocked up on a few bottles of water to keep us hydrated throughout the day. We then made our way to the train and enjoyed the dreary trip towards the convention center.
Lyft drivers were out like crazy to take advantage of the rain, and they were handing out discount vouchers trying to solicit some fares from all us rain weary travelers. I decided to just man up and not bring an umbrella because I honestly didn’t want to have to carry it around all day. Alex decided to forego his rain jacket as well, and we walked the short walk from the transit center getting reasonably soaked. Lucky for us, once we got inside, we dried off in fifteen or twenty minutes, so it wasn’t all that bad.
Getting back inside the con was similar to the night before and required us to have our bags checked and to go through metal detectors. Once we got through we entered the lobby that was at least quadruple as busy as the night before. We made our way back to the backroom where we picked up our passes and made our way into a gigantic line consisting of all the VIPs who got early entry into the event.
We waited around in anticipation for the vendors to finish setting up and the doors to officially open, and then we were marched out like a misfit platoon of soldiers and allowed to begin our festivities.
Alex took off immediately to snag some autographs, while Adoniram and I went on a mission. See… I had several wardrobe malfunctions during Wizard World weekend. The most damaging occurred Saturday morning. I was getting dressed right before we left and I felt my sock slip down. I had vaguely remembered one of my socks seeming to lose elasticity, but they were ankle socks… and it’s hard to tell for sure. By the time we’d made it on the train, I’d already pulled my sock up three times, and still it kept falling into my shoes. If you’ve ever had a sock just fail on you, you know how horrible this can be. Plus, I was preparing for around 12 hours of walking, so not having my heel protected was not a great idea.
So, we took off in search of socks. There were vendors there selling everything you can imagine. Walls of belts, Japanese candy, hot and cold ice packs, geek themed hockey jerseys, lights that attach to your shoes, you name it, someone was probably selling it. I didn’t think that socks would be difficult to find.
Alex did ask the Wizard World booth about socks before dashing off into the crowd, but they didn’t have any nor were they sure who might. Thankfully Adoniram loaned me his eyes as we cut in and out of the crowds in search of something most people give no thought about.
It took almost a half hour, but I finally found a booth with a small section of girl socks. They were all themed of course, so I chose the Ninja Turtles pair. Let me just say, getting girl socks on a guys foot is extremely difficult, especially when that foot is already a little sweaty. It took a ton of pulling and stretching, plus a little seam popping, but I finally managed to get the socks on and protect the back of my heel. Now it was time to go conning!
Adoniram and I grabbed a quick and crazily overpriced bite to eat, and then began exploring the rest of Hall A where we found my socks. As we browsed near the back wall, we noticed a man with a mission, armed with a machete and a hockey mask powerwalking through the crowd. People moved out of his way, because this guy was full on channeling Jason. It was actually almost terrifying to see. We laughed and then I decided to chase the guy down to get a photo. He never once broke character.
We made our way upstairs and saw that more standees were added to the movie theater standee section. I decided to take a few photos and even snagged a selfie with ET. A few minutes later, I noticed the sign that said it cost $5 to take a photo, which I was definitely not interested in paying since no one was around anyway, I went about my way.
Super organized Alex had an impressive itinerary to keep. He, by far, had the most autographs and photo ops lined up, and I honestly didn’t see much of him on Saturday. We’d pass and say hi here and there, but he was constantly bouncing between the photo op lines and the autograph lines. Adoniram wasn’t much better. Both guys took advantage of the Daredevil cast being in attendance and spent a lot of money and time on them.
I had quite a few Bruce Campbell related events going on Saturday as well. I had my photo op at 1 PM, the autograph line shortly thereafter, and his Q & A that I hoped to visit. But those were all a ways off, so I decided to see what new vendors had popped up since the night before.
It’s amazing how many times you can walk around a convention and still see something new. I circled the hallways a couple of times and I still kept stumbling upon new and exciting things. As my 12:30 PM Bruce Campbell photo op approached, I decided to head up stairs and see if the line had started yet. It had not, and judging by the massive lines already set up I didn’t think it would start on time. I decided to rest my already very tired feet, so I found a seat at the video game tournament and watched some guys beat the hell out of each other in Tekken.
It was nice to get off my feet, since I’d already been on them for three and a half hours. That concrete floor was killer. My arches tend to fall when my foot becomes tired, which results in even more pain and I could feel them already slipping. I ate my protein bar, and drank a bottle of water, and took some Aleve. After half an hour, I made my way over to the photo op line again, where a hold out line had begun for us Evil Dead Junkies.
I stood there silently, just looking around and enjoying myself, when a lady looked over at my VIP badge and smiled big. “Yea…. I’m finally with my people now.” I smiled back. It was a simple statement, but I think it encompasses what going to a con is really being about. It’s about coming together with other freaks and weirdos who don’t fit in the traditional mold. We’re the type of people who’d rather watch Evil Dead 2 for the fiftieth time then sit down and watch NCIS.
I chatted with the lady for a bit, she had come with her son to the convention and he was off getting photo ops himself, while she stood in line to meet her hero Bruce Campbell. After about fifteen minutes, they finally started funneling us into a massive line for the photo ops to begin. The line didn’t move fast and I was dying to just sit down and relax a little, but I manned up and stood in line and people watched.
This was my first photo op and I was excited. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but it was pretty simple. They pull back the curtain and you are essentially placed in the “on-deck” position. While the person in front of you get their picture taken, you can drop your coats, bags, hats, or whatever on a table, and then walk up to the celebrity. You pose, they snap the shot, then you grab your stuff and leave. Bruce was directing his fans like a champ and making every photo unique. I walked up and he said, “You’re a big guy, put your dukes up and let’s pose like this.” So I did, and by the time my hands made it up, the photo was snapped and I was being shuffled out of the way for the next guy.
I walked around the back of the curtain toward the line of printers and quickly found my photo. That’s when I noticed my second wardrobe malfunction of the weekend.
I decided to wear some Under Armor beneath my clothes since I was going to be in a super tight place where I was sure to get hot. I had purchased a plain blue Hanes X-Temp t-shirt which was quite soft and I’m guessing contains some of the same material Under Armor is made of, because instead of sticking to my Under Armor it slide off it like a Slip N Slide. Just leaning over a bit caused my shirt to slide big time, and expose my Under Armor. It’s not the end of the world, but I would have preferred my pictures not look like I was wearing a t-shirt with a stretched out neckline.
I had some time to kill before the autograph signing and since I was still quite tired, I decided to take a seat outside of the photo op lines near the big projector screen which was live casting the Daredevil panel that Adoniram and Alex were attending. It was a great panel and really made me wish I’d take advantage of meeting some of the cast and watch season two already, something I did promptly after returning home.
I headed downstairs and hopped in line to get Bruce Campbell to sign my photo. They had a great photo they were giving out, but I actually bought a classic Evil Dead photo from a photo vendor that I wanted Bruce to sign. It was great being a VIP, because they put you at the front of the line, so I was squeezed toward the front and then just had to wait for Bruce to show up. His handler for the event was a dick. Out of everyone I encountered at the con, this guy was by far the biggest tool of anyone. I’m not sure if it was an inflated ego or what, but the poor volunteers had done the best job they possibly could containing this massive line and he walked up and bitched to them about pushing people back two feet, which was impossible since there was absolutely no room to back anyone up. I’d understand if they were going to impede on Bruce coming in or be right in his face as he sat down, but that was not the case. This was just a guy being an asshole because he could.
I heard a few stories from Alex about some of the handlers and a few of the volunteers being a little power hungry during our stint that weekend, but I didn’t have any direct issues with anyone. I will say that Chicagoans are definitely different than Southerners, and they can be a little direct, harsh, and rude at times, but I only really noticed that outside of the con on the streets of Chicago and to be honest, it really wasn’t that bad.
Bruce was nice, asked my name, and I just mentioned how I met him once before in Raleigh. He said he remembered that event, but I highly doubt that. It was nice of him to say though. I shook his hand, and left with a smile. Money well spent.
I made a first con mistake by buying a cheap 8×10 and having Bruce sign it. The photo was very glossy and not matte like the one they gave out for free. Bruce warned me to let the autograph dry and I did for almost ten minutes before placing it into a protective sleeve. It wasn’t until three weeks later when I went to remove it that I watched in horror as all the ink tore from the photo and remained stuck inside the plastic protector.
I was a starving by this point in the day. All of the vendors were out of food and I just wanted a nice cold drink and a snack. But since there was nothing available, I decided to make my way towards the panel rooms and catch Bruce’s panel. I was told by a volunteer that I was there way too early because they didn’t expect the crowd for The Back to the Future panel. He told me to come back in half an hour and not to worry about the line because I was a VIP. So, I went back out into the less crowded hallway and I sat down because by this point, my feet were on fire. The convention has concrete floors and after a few hours, things began to hurt and then go numb. By the end of the day, we were all limping and begging for a spot to sit down. I piddled on my phone (when I could get signal) and just enjoyed all the costumes. I made my way back to the panel room after twenty minutes to not only find it already going on, but also to be a standing room only capacity.
I did a quick Google search and didn’t find anything quick, cheap or easy nearby. I went to check out a restaurant attached to a local hotel, but it was closed until 5 PM. The hotel did have a gift shop though, so I bought a couple Diet Mountain Dews, a bag of Potato Skins, and a Snickers bar. You know… a healthy balanced lunch. I sat down on a bench and watched as an amazing mixture of people poured out of the hotel. The hotel was hosting quite a few cosplayers and con goers, but was also hosting competitors of a ballroom dancing contest. It was quite a sight to see the two groups emerging from the same hallways and passing each other. I saw a guy in maybe my favorite cosplay of the weekend, he was dressed as The Shadow and I regret not getting a photo then. I figured I’d bump into him back at the con, but I never did.
I planned originally to get my William Sadler photo op on Sunday, but I was worried about it running into Lea Thompson’s so I decided to hop in line for the Saturday shoot. I was first in line and thought that this would be a quick photo op but the photo op was over an hour late. I eventually grabbed a worker to ask what was going on and he explained with a smile that Princess Leia (Carrie Fisher) was causing problems. She was taking her time, taking multiple breaks whenever she wanted, and just being Carrie Fisher. He shrugged his shoulders and said to me, “It’s Princess Leia, what can you do?”
I heard all weekend how cool Carrie Fisher was. She was signing multiple items and really taking time with her fans. She seemed to really enjoy the con atmosphere much to her handlers and security’s chagrin. She would flat out ignore them when they encouraged fans to hurry up or to only present one item, she did what she wanted, and that made me smile. It was nice to hear how fun and fan friendly Carrie Fisher was, especially when a couple other celebrities in attendance were the opposite.
William Sadler did show up and despite the way the picture looks, he was actually quite happy. He was dancing, smiling, and singing when I walked up. I honestly don’t think he was ready for the picture. But that’s the way the photo ops work, they don’t really care. You got your picture; now get the hell out of line. So I took my photo and headed back to find my friends.
It was almost three o’clock and I had finished everything I wanted to do on Saturday (I was saving my Lea Thompson photo ops for Sunday) and so I went to have a seat next to Alex while waiting for Adoniram to finish up an autograph signing. It was his first time off of his feet since he got there. Unlike Adoniram and I, Alex hadn’t eaten anything more than a small granola bar early that morning. So we made our way over to this really neat cookie stand that sold all sorts of cool cookies like this Full House one. Alex bought a cookie and I bought a Michelangelo one.
Adoniram joined us and we decided to do some walking together. We visited all sorts of vendors, snagged pictures with other cosplays (including a couple Harley Quinns!), and Alex and Adoniram bought some cool stuff to get autographed the following day like a Charlie Cox Daredevil plaque and Bella Twins figures.
I ran into another great Spiderman cosplayer and a nice Catwoman that I snagged photos with. It’s amazing how nice everyone is at a con and how much they seem to appreciate the attention that comes with dressing up.
As we were walking, we noticed Lea Thompson’s line had almost died out and Alex wanted to get a photo signed. I hopped in line with him and got a chance to shake Lea Thompson’s hand and say a few words with her. She was as sweet as you’d imagine she being and I regretted getting the photo op instead of doing a table photo where I could actually spend a little more time chatting with her.
We wandered around (what really goes on most of the time at a con) and tried to make plans for the evening. The cosplay contest began at 6 PM, followed by a barrage of other activities, but by 5, we were dead tired and very hungry. We decided to head back to the hotel and see about getting some delicious Chicago pizza delivered to us.