Phoenix Comicon has been extremely successful and growing in popularity since its establishment 13 years ago, first debuting back in 2002 with a $3 per day admission and total of 432 attendees. Now, Phoenix Comicon memberships range anywhere between $20 to $50 per day online and even cost more on site. Last year’s event had well over 50,000 attendees. With this many attendees, the capacity of the Phoenix convention center was put to its limits, so much that it was a fire hazard. Thus, why this year’s event will have a cap on memberships, though no memberships at the moment are currently sold out, with last year’s convention, don’t count on buying your memberships at the event, because when you get to the con, they just might be sold out already. Though some may ponder whether last year’s show had bigger actors, artists and exhibitors, and some may disagree, you can count on this year’s programming to bring in some awesome entertainment. The entertainment rich and unique can be easily ruined if one is not prepared. Comicon is a fun pop culture adventure, not having the necessary and right tools in your inventory can ruined this unique and rich experience Phoenix has to offer. Phoenix itself unique to other cities in the country, “good ways” as a native Phoenician would probably say, or as an outsider would probably call this place a “desert wasteland”, Phoenix not perfect in anyway, can easily be enjoyable, but it is all about knowing your surroundings.
Upon arrival, registration is the first place to go pick up your badge. Your badge is the key to gaining access to any part of the convention, whether it’s the exhibit floor, gaming lounge, or panels. Registration will be at the Phoenix Convention Center’s North Building on Monroe and 3rd St, south of St Mary’s Basilica . During the registration process, it is important that you bring your receipt with the printed bar-code on it, and that’s if you purchased your badge online. If not, there should be a different line for attendee’s who want to buy a badge at the door. Last year, the registration was fast and swift, attendees were in and out of the registration room within minutes, also be sure to pick up a Phoenix Comicon guide book. The guide provides a time and place of all the shows and events that the con will be hosting. Once you have your badge, be sure to keep it safe and secure, if you happen to lose your badge, there are no refunds or returns, all sales are final. Your badge is the most important item in your inventory and is the key to gaining any access to the event, remember to bring it with you every day of the convention, having to go back to the hotel/home to get your badge is a huge inconvenience.
Let’s face it, who doesn’t like to blow all their money at any comic convention, whether you’re spending it on collectibles, comics, photo ops, autographs or even food there is always some intricate item to buy. Usually, conventions have great deals on comic books, plushies, collectibles, and posters, without a doubt there is always a vendor displaying “10 comics for such and such”, or “$60 for a box full”, showing that the more you spend, the more you get. At any convention cash is king, most vendors do have credit/debit card sliders, but some may not. Also, another benefit about having cash is haggling, with cash in hand any item on the convention exhibition floor is subject to price change. In attending any Comic Convention, it goes without saying that Sunday is usually the best day to buy, buy, buy, since most of the vendors want to clear their inventory goods. Remember, not all vendors are from Phoenix, they come from all over the U.S. and driving with a lighter load means a safer journey. Regardless, make sure to download apps such as Ebay and Amazon to compare prices, and just because a vendor displays comic books “On Sale” does not mean that they are necessarily cheaper at the convention, then online. Also, be sure to check out the list of Phoenix Comicon exclusives at this years con.
Health is a very important at any convention, it is vital to keep your energy levels at an all-time high and this means feeding your body daily. During any convention attendees tend to walk several miles throughout the exhibit floor, or to other outside surrounding events. As for cosplayers, feeding and water consumption is doubled due to the weight/exposure of the costume, because walking in full costume is a workout especially here in Phoenix. You’ll be reminded that you’re in Phoenix once you feel the heat burning your skin. In Phoenix, temperatures soar all the way up to the hundreds during this time of the year, for the summer starts in the beginning of May. Water is essential to maintaining a great con experience here in the valley of the sun. Buying water prior to attending the convention and taking it with you, is a must, water is definitely allowed inside the convention center. If you plan on buying water at the convention it will run you about $4 or more for one lousy bottle of water, and more than likely you will be drinking about 5 bottles of water a day. Also, another vital item needed to survive at Phoenix Comicon is Ibuprofen, without this item stocked in your inventory, expect your feet to experience swelling and minor pain from all the walking. Ibuprofen, is a great for reliving pain and getting through each day at Phoenix Comicon, but lets not overdue it. Though, the convention is typically indoors, but if you plan on walking to any of the convention surroundings, just remember to put some sun screen on, you’ll be surprised on how powerful the sun rays are, here in Phoenix.
Another way to save money at the convention is using public transportation. The light rail stops directly in front of convention center (Between the North and South Convention Center Buildings) and can save you money on gas and parking, note there are only a handful of park and ride stations throughout the Phoenix area. The only bad side to this is that the light rail is very limited in range, and does not cover every part of Phoenix, but if you are able to take advantage of these public assets it will save you time and money. As for Parking Downtown, there are numerous parking structures, but all structures come with a fee. Be sure to go on the Phoenix Comicon Website to get a discount on parking, otherwise parking fee’s range anywhere between $10-$20 per day, if you plan on going to the convention every day that can cost up to $60 just for parking. This year Phoenix Comicon is offering a 4 day parking pass with overnight stay. Also, on the Phoenix Comicon website, you can find other modes of transportation such as shuttles and the green Grid Bikes. There are also various parking meters downtown that charge an hourly rate of $1.50/hr for credit/debit card meter readers and coin meters charge a rate of $1.00/hr and is enforced from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, after 10 p.m. parking meters are free.
Do not forget, those attending the convention are not limited to the exhibit floor. Even though, Phoenix is a vast desert and with miles of city, there is so much to do here, especially in downtown. When the exhibit floor closes for the day there are events going on at the Hyatt Regency, Renaissance, and Sheraton hotels up until 2 a.m. The Hyatt Phoenix Regency will be hosting both the video game and board game rooms at this year’s Phoenix Comicon, this is where you can meet with other fellow gamer’s and even compete against one another in tournaments that are held daily. As for food, here in Phoenix, there are numerous restaurants both local and chain, with the new Cityscape complex built downtown (1st Ave and Washington), you have so many more options for food. Within the Cityscape Plaze there is a Chipotle, Five guys, Jimmy Johns, Bowling alley, Comedy club, and the Gypsy bar. Cityscape is only a 5 minute walk from the convention center, though it might seem longer with the heat. If you’re looking for something local, you have many choices. Hanny’s is extremely close to the convention center, but can be on the pricey side, but it is well worth it. Another local place that I find very worth the while and is close to the con is Pizzeria Bianco, this pizzeria has been rated to be the best pizza in the country, but you can expect to wait at least an hour or two due to the size of the restaurant and popularity. Honestly, you’re in Phoenix and you probably want something spicy, no fear there are numerous Mexican restaurants throughout Phoenix area such as Guadalajara, Taco Guild, and Gadzooks, are all local Mexican restaurants that you will find no where else, though these restaurants are best accessed by vehicle. For night life, there are numerous bars in the downtown Phoenix area, such as Gypsy Bar, Lost Leaf, Copper Blues, Angel’s Trumpet, SideBar and much more.
A convention known for its comic book artists has a surprisingly good amount of celebrity actors at this year’s show. Actors like Christopher Lloyd, and Ron Perlman will be attending this year’s show along with many others. Photo Ops of these actors can be purchase on the Phoenix Comicon website and at the convention center at the time of the event. Depending on which photo op you buy, there will be a time and place that the photo ops will be held, make sure to show up on time, if you show up late, you put yourself at risk to missing the photo op entirely. During each photo op there is absolutely no autographs or photos to be taken, there is another time and place for personal autographs and pictures. Also, celebrities/artist may take a stroll around the exhibit floor or you may see one hosting a panel/booth, always remain calm and ask politely to take a photo of an artist. Taking a photo of a celebrity without permission is prohibited and can get you in some trouble, but always, remember to smile at the camera when taking a picture!
Dressing up in your favorite pop culture character is what makes any comic convention fun and entertaining. Phoenix Comicon welcomes cosplayers and highly encourages it; from youth to adults all cosplayers are welcomed, check out the costume policy on the Phoenix Comicon webpage to be sure on what you can and cannot wear. Every year at Phoenix Comicon, a masquerade costume contest is held, If you would like to participate in the masquerade contest you can sign up in person during the Phoenix Comicon (located in front of room 228B in the north building), and the best part about it is the masquerade is absolutely free, though limited, so be sure to sign up once you get to the convention center. Reminder, there are some rules specifically for weapons, such as knives, swords, pistols, and rifles. Weapons must be inspected at any peace bonding table, once inspected the weapon will be tagged with a bright orange sticker in a visible area. As for swords and knives, these weapons must remain inside a weapon holster at all times. If any knife or sword is pulled out at any time, your weapon will be confiscated and given back to you once you have departed from the convention center. The staff at this convention take weapons very seriously, so please be smart about your weapons, even though Phoenix Comicon takes place in the Wild West, let’s keep downtown Phoenix fun and safe.
Phoenix Comicon has been in the making for the past 13 years and is hands down the best comic convention experience Phoenix has to offer. Keep in mind that this experience can be easily ruined if one does not have the necessary supplies in one’s inventory, such as water, Ibuprofen, comfortable shoes, snacks, and most importantly knowledge. Not having these supplies and information prior to going to the convention can ruined this great experience, for you are in Phoenix, where sun beams, ultra violet rays and heat waves are of the norm, and along with the hot weather there are numerous local Mexican restaurants with all varieties of hot foods. No worries, if you’re not into spicy food, and prefer something on the fast side, Phoenix expands for miles. Fast food restaurants are in abundance and extremely easy to find on your smart phone. The one last thing I recommend, is to have fun, this con is here to bring you closer to the entertainment you love most, so be friendly when traveling, don’t be afraid to explore panels, and interact with exhibitors, that’s what they are there for… YOU!
Please leave any questions you have for me in the comments below.