I cannot believe the week is finally here – Fan Expo Dallas is just a few short days away! At Fan Days this past fall, they announced 2017 would only have two cons so it’s been a longer than normal wait (typically there’s a February con too), but honestly I’m really excited about it and I think the wait will make it even better. They’ve got tons of amazing celebrity guests in store (Mark Hamill, Tim Curry, Eliza Dushku, Norman Reedus and Jeffrey Dean Morgan from The Walking Dead, and Stan Lee…to name a few!)
A few years ago I did a “How to Prep for Dallas Comic Con” post and now that I have a few more years under my belt, I wanted to do a bit of a refresher. Consider this your survival guide to the con (but make sure to check out that other post too, it has some helpful info I didn’t include here).
- Buy your tickets and photo ops ahead of time – This is going to be a crowded and jam packed weekend, you’re going to want as much time as possible to attend panels, buy from the artists and get autographs. No one wants to spend more time in line than necessary. Plus, I find that planning and getting everything done ahead of time keeps me from “impulse buying” something I might regret later. Do I really need a photo op with someone who plays a character I didn’t even like? Probably not. Click here to buy tickets or here to buy photo ops.
- DRINK WATER – This one is soooo important, and it really starts a day or two before the con. You’re going to be walking around crowds, eating unhealthy food and drinking lots of soda, you need to be fully hydrated ahead of time. Also make sure you’re drinking water throughout the day in between your cups of Wild Bill’s Soda. I’m not going to tell you to not drink soda because….come on….I live on that stuff.
- Schedule your days out – This is the biggest con we’ve seen in Dallas in quite some time, you really need to make sure you don’t miss anything. One year I didn’t review my schedule carefully and I completely missed a panel….for no reason! I was there, sitting on a bench because I didn’t think I had anything to do. Tragic. I recommend marking must see items, as well as backups. Even if two panels are at the same time, you might not be able to get into your first choice so it’s great to have a backup. Click here for a PDF version of the current schedule.
- Plan your days around your “must see” items – In previous years, the larger panels were in the arena but this year, Fan Expo Dallas isn’t using that space. The good news is, the larger panels will be much more intimate so if you get in it will be an awesome experience. The bad news is….you might not get in. Expect to stand in line if you’re wanting to get into those panels with the headliners. I recommend walking by throughout the day to see if people have started lining up. I would expect to line up 2 hours early for panels like Stan Lee and the Mark Hamill/Kevin Conroy (but this is just a guess based on previous years! Don’t get mad at me if I’m wrong, please.)
- Eat at weird times – Despite being a huge venue, the Convention Center doesn’t have as many food options as you would think. Last year I ended up skipping food altogether because lines were just too long. Try to plan your meals before or after the “normal” meal times to try to avoid lines. Also make sure to eat plenty before you arrive and maybe even bring in some snacks if you can.
- Bring a mirror – This is going to sound vain but, whatever. If you’re doing photos, make sure you have a little mirror with you! You might not have time to stop by the bathroom to check your appearance and the last thing you want is a rogue Alfalfa hair or poppy seed in your teeth when you paid $75+ for a photo! Also, be a good friend and tell your pals if they need to adjust something before a photo…just be nice about it.
- Attend Friday – This Friday is a little different because Stan Lee will be there, but typically Friday is the calmest day of the con. I *always* make sure to attend Friday so I can get a feel for the layout before the insanity of Saturday. It’s also the best time to shop Artists Alley because inventory is high and crowds are low(er).
- Sit in on a panel of someone random – Some of my favorite panels of years past were with people I was totally unfamiliar with. You learn so much and it might make a fan out of you! Just be aware that there will likely be spoilers, so if you haven’t seen Firefly but it’s on your list (I’m really talking about myself here), you might want to skip Alan Tudyk.
- Withdraw cash ahead of time – There will be ATMs available, but avoid those fees and bring the cash with you. Thank me later.
- Dress smart – Unless you’re cosplaying, be sure to dress in layers. The temperatures will vary quite a bit from one spot to the next. The hallways tend to be REALLY hot and crowded, but I usually get really cold in the panels. It’s a nice break from the heat but it gets chilly fast so a cardigan or light jacket is your friend! And of course, wear comfortable shoes.