I have wanted to go for a few years but always seem to remember too late and then tickets are sold out and event day lines are prohibitive. This year, as soon as I heard that Matt Smith had been added late to the roster - I HAD to be there. And since I dragged Hubby into Whovianism with me - it was the perfect excuse for a date. We just had to get tickets....and Saturday tickets were already sold out.
I looked into buying some on Kijiji, but for a single day ticket, it was going to set us back $109 per ticket. Eek! Then, I was poking around the expo website and I noticed that some of the comic book stores in town still had 4 day passes...which were only $80. At that price, we could still attend that one day yet not spend broker prices. I was quickly on the phone with a shop and was trying to get him to hold 2 passes for me (which he wouldn't) and I excitedly mentioned that we only wanted to attend Saturday but this was going to be the cheapest way we could do it. Then, the guy coyly asked if I had the option for Saturday only tickets - would I prefer that?
I didn't know what he was getting at so I played along and said "Sure!" and then he told me he had JUST had 2 Saturday passes returned in exchange for 4 day passes. The guy told me he wasn't going to tell anyone else about them so if I got there that day, I might just luck out.
I may have broken land speed records to get across the city after work that day. And for $35/ticket - Hubby and I had Saturday passes! Booyah!
Then - we just had to wait for the day to arrive. I had plenty of time to plan and replan the day. About the only thing I didn't think we would be doing is paying for photo ops (holy hannah, are those ever expensive). Since most of the panels I wanted to see were running simultaneously - I wasn't going to be able to see them all live, so I was incredibly happy when I found out that everything would be live-streaming on flipon.tv. I'm going to profile that tomorrow in case you are curious.
Bright and early on Saturday, we dropped the kids off with Gramma and headed to the Stampede grounds. Hubby had his pro camera in tow and I had packed along an extra point and shoot in case my iphone died. In the end, we planned to try to see as much as possible and treat this year as a reconnaissance mission for next year. Given the state of my stress fracture - my leg was going to be the determining factor on how long we could stay.
We arrived at the grounds by shortly after 10 (doors opened at 10) and it turned out that given the wet, snowy day, we lucked out and didn't need to stand in line outside at all. After parking, our first stop was at the Grandstand to exchange our tickets for our wristbands.
I thought it was awesome how on top of things the volunteers were - expertly guiding people into the shortest lines and directing cosplayers with weaponry over to special tables to inspect their weapons. We got right up to the table and were soon walking away to the show. We trudged back through the wet snow to the Big Four building (pretty sure hubby was rueing his decision to forego a jacket).
We passed a huge Aliens haunted house on the way in - there is no way you could have paid me to enter that thing but I thought the admission price was fairly reasonable at $5. There were also duelling matches and Quiddich games galore.
I even saw my new car...
We showed our wristbands at the door wandered through the crowd and into the exhibit halls and were almost immediately overwhelmed by the sheer masses of people. This place was barely open and it was PACKED! We expected it but it was still crazy to see it live. Everywhere, people in costumes were greeting one another and adults and children alike were dressed to represent their fandom. Suddenly I felt incredibly underdressed in my Doctor Who tee! But I was having fun soaking in all of the degrees of nerdiness.
In the BMO centre, there were a ton of artists and retail vendors. We wandered up and down the aisles and almost lost track of time looking at everything. But we had a date with the Doctah at noon and I didn't want to be late. At around 11:30, we headed over to the corral, briefly waited outside in the lineup and then settled ourselves into our seats to wait.
I am such a fangirl for a number of amazing different things and it turned out that there was a Lord of the Rings AND a Harry Potter panel running at the exact same time as the Doctor Who panel. Since I am quite obsessed with the Doctah right now, I am so glad I bought the streaming pass so I could watch the others later!
Right at 12 - the panel began and Matt Smith and Karen Gillan took to the stage with Dan Casey from the Nerdist as the moderator.
To be honest - the panel was EXACTLY what I had hoped it would be. Hilarious stories from their time as the Doctor and Amy Pond. You could really see the connection these two actors have with each other, too. They played off of each other for the entire 45 mins of the panel. So enjoyable. The moderator was excellent. Apparently it was the first year that the Nerdist came to Calgary so I am hoping they make an even bigger showing next year.
I took about ten trillion photos and none of them turned out clear since we were quite far back, but I am so glad I didn't miss it. (though Matt Smith scratched himself for the entire thing - I began to wonder if he had lice or something LOL We felt itchy for the rest of the afternoon :P)
Once the panel let out, we went in search of some lunch at the Big Four. Imagine our surprise to see more expo in there - even more artists and vendors. There were also significant areas set aside for autographs (though we forwent any of these as well - neither of us really had any need to have something signed nor wanted pay for the privilege). Food options were slim. Coco Brooks pizza had a huge showing with a lineup to match. We ended up getting these incredibly unsatisfying rice sandwiches from a vendor with a shorter line. But what's food when you have an expo to explore?
I need to return to the topic of Cosplay for a moment. I was ridiculously impressed with the cosplayers that graced these halls. They varied from simple plain clothes versions of beloved characters to elaborate costumes that surely cost in the thousands to buy or create. Here are some of my favourites:
There was also a super impressive Optimus Prime that blew my mind and apparently my camera because the three shots I took of him were all blurred. Boo.
I would attend the show again simply to see them all. Next year, I think I need something of a costume myself - even if it is just super basic. I loved the fact that Calgary Expo had posters up all over the place telling people to respect the cosplayers. We made sure to ask before taking any photos and they were all so gracious to pose or stop for us. It is such a phenomenal thing to know that those are just Average Joes and Janes sharing their love for their fandom with the world. I love it!
A big part of these things is visiting all of the vendors. I really only had one thing on my shopping list, but I was open to as much geeky shopping as I could fit in. The artisans here are incredible - so many talented, talented artists creating beautiful tributes to so many geeky things. I bought a beautiful stained glass TARDIS from one of the artisans (who I failed to get a business card for and am wishing I had since I cracked it the next day).
My main mission was to replace my toy sonic screwdriver since my daughters had absconded with my old one (true to form - it turned up in the wash the day after I replaced it. Literally IN THE WASH). I figured I'd get another 11th Doctor sonic, but then I managed to find River Song's sonic! Squeeeee! She is absolutely my favourite character so its no question that this is the one for me!
I also found a ton of geeky necklaces that I HAD to have and Hubby picked up a beautiful print from the talented Gillian Newland. All in all - a fairly restrained effort for us.
Around 4pm, all of the walking was starting to do me in. My legs were so tired (guess that is bound to happen when a person has barely walked at all for 6+ weeks). I wasn't in pain, but I was slowing down a fair bit. We decided maybe it was time to head out and get me some rest. Besides - we figured we had seen all there was to see.
For the Kiddos
On our way out, though, we decided to make one quick pit stop in this large tent that was set up in the parking lot. The tent was surrounded by giant inflatable children's characters and it turned out to be a giant kids zone! Inflatable bouncy castles and video games and lego building stations, etc filled the tent. Our girlies would have loved it!
Having only spent a few hours at the Expo, I can say with conviction that I think we got our $35 worth. In fact, I see us being 4 day pass people going forward because following the hashtags on Twitter and Instagram afterwards left us seeing even more that we missed out on but that we would have died to see (TARDIS!!! DALEK!!! How did we miss you?) It would be nearly impossible to see everything in one day! I want to take the girlies to it next year - maybe on the Friday so we could attend the Parade of Wonders and the kick off before heading for some family fun...and then having a couple of days kid-free to get our own geek on. The girls would get a kick out of the Kid Zone and would probably love it if they could represent their own fandom as mini-cosplayers.
All in all - I think there is something for everyone. Just make sure you pack some snacks and water and be ready to see anything!