22 October 2012

Dallas Fan Days - 2012

As a rule, I don't normally do reviews of cons. I like to go and enjoy myself without having to worry about working the room or getting interviews and what not but I've made an exception this time. Why? Because NEVER have I experienced something like I did at Dallas Fan Days. Let me make it clear that this was just my personal experience... I'm sure some people had a fantastic time but I can say for sure that my family and I didn't.

Time and time again I saw the sign saying "a convention for fans, by fans" and yes, they provided fans with access to some of their favorite celebrities, that is true, however, I saw and experienced fans being rushed through chaotic lines, given misinformation and talked to like children. I'm sure volunteers get tired of dealing with so many people in one day but really?? You "volunteered" to stand up there and answer questions and point people in the right direction so being rude to someone who walks up and asks you something is beyond ridiculous.

First of all, we arrived Friday so I could purchase tickets for my children and my sister could get hers. We were put in a line separate from those that already had tickets and told that the booths would open at 1:00 pm. As we're standing there, my sister flags down a "red shirt" and asks if she will have access to the Bruce Campbell photo op tickets if she's only buying a ticket for Saturday as they only had 100 left. She was assured that it would be no problem. Getting in there was a different story. See, the photo op booth was inside the convention and she had to go through three check points to get to it. One let her go and the other stopped her and told her she wouldn't be allowed in unless she bought a Friday ticket. I don't know about you but I sure wouldn't buy something just to be able to go in and buy something else. Nevertheless, I had to take my 3-day bracelet in and purchase the photo op for her to make sure she was one of the last 100 people to get one. Crisis averted and on to Saturday.

We got there and immediately went up to the fourth floor so my 7 year old could get her Tara Strong autograph. Using our handy dandy guide map we arrived at a block of rooms in the middle of the floor only to find about 6 different doors that were all closed. Checking each door, we found the first four locked. We double checked our guide map and confirmed we were in the right place then asked one of the volunteers how we were suppose to get in. At that time, the locked door opened and people started exiting the room. "I guess there." the volunteer said. Great! Yay! Thank you Captain Obvious! Got in, met Tara then Sean Astin then decided to wait in line for Alan Tudyk who my 7 year old was very exited to see. We were immediately stopped by one of the volunteers and told that she and I could go in but the rest of our party couldn't because they didn't have the right group number on their bracelet. "We're only doing groups one and two right now." The other two people with me had group five bracelets. I was willing to wait until their group was called so we could all go together (didn't make sense to me to stand in a long line twice) so we asked about how long before their group was called. The answer was "We don't know". We scratched Alan for the time being and headed over for our photo op with Bruce Campbell.

It would be an hour wait so I took out the iPad to entertain the 7 year old and sat down against the wall. This small hallway had so many people in it, because they were already lining people up for two other photo ops, that you couldn't even breathe it was so hot and cramped. By the way people... deodorant is your friend!!! We weren't there long before someone came and asked us to follow her which of course we did because at that point we were all sheep anyway. So it's down the sloppily divided hallway and before I know it, the chick with the sign is passing me and so is everyone else that was in line ahead of us... huh?? They took us down the hallway only to walk us back up the hallway the other way? Give the kid the iPad and sit in an even smaller, more cramped hallway for about 30 minutes then the chick with the sign comes back again and shifts us to the other side. It's really hard to describe what happens next but it's divided off like the lines at Six Flags so you can zig zag through the lanes to get more people in the small space but did they use it right?? No. Within that zig zag, you had two rows of people basically standing on top of each other (I know what I'm saying makes no sense but it makes sense to me) in different directions. THEN the line went around the barrier where they stuffed two more rows of people. Can you say cluster fuck?? The line finally starts moving... pretty quickly... and we're up next only to find the group from the other side of the barrier trying to push in ahead of us because they didn't know where to go. Hot, tired and completely over it, we proceeded to point them to the end of the line. We couldn't really get mad at them considering there was no one around to tell them what they were suppose to be doing/going. Anyway, we're rushed in the room and after handing over our bags, we're asked for our ticket, swoop up the 7 year old, pose for the pic and get the fuck out. It took me longer to write that sentence than it did for us to get through the whole photo op that we paid $50 for. Froggy's Photos, you can suck it! I will definitely not be paying you anything again!

Two hours later, we're back to Alan Tudyk and still a no go on group five. By this time, it's 3:00 pm and Bruce Campbell is about to start signing. So off we go to that line.... AGAIN. Now, I'm a smoker and I'm a courteous smoker so I step out of line, leaving the rest of my party in place, to have a cigarette. I'm minding my own business, enjoying the fresh air and here comes the Line Nazi telling me where the line is. I explain to her that I'm trying to be considerate of others in the line and smoking away from them. After she graciously points me to the end of the line FIVE times... I let her know that my kids are right there, 20 yards away, and when I'm done, I will rejoin them, which I did. After sitting there for nearly two hours, a volunteer came by checking group numbers and decided we couldn't stay together because I was in one group and they were in the other. She informed us there were nine groups that needed to get through and they weren't even done with VIP's yet. Well sorry but I'm not gonna be separated from my minor children because Fan Days has this ridiculous group bullshit. I stood my ground and they allowed us to stay where we were but again, the line hadn't moved in almost two hours! Now, the schedule said that he would sign from 3:00 to 5:00 then from 5:30 to 7:30 and it was already 4:45. There was no way, we'd all get through before 7:30... that line was out the door, around the corner and down the fucking stairs! I finally just asked her how to get our money back. She offered to send a "red shirt" over but I was done by then. I made the trek down to the first floor and found my way to the "Official Pix" table where I came across two extremely unhelpful people who refused to give us our money back. After some argument and a call to.... I dunno, Jesus I guess.... we finally got it back and got the fuck out of there. If I hadn't already paid for our Sunday tickets and promised my other daughter I'd take her, I wouldn't have been back.

Sunday was much better, there weren't as many people which made the line management a little better. Really the only thing I took issue with was going back up to Alan Tudyk's table and finding that from Saturday, they never even made it passed group three! So, me having group two and my daughter having group three, we were allowed to wait in line for them to return from a panel. No problems there, we waited for an hour or so until he came back but then here come the VIP's with their line skip privileges. I'm okay with that, they pay extra for their tickets so they're afforded that right BUT... what I didn't understand was why they let every single VIP through before everyone else who's been waiting in line for an hour? Every other convention we've ever been to alternated between the two lines. Four or five VIP's then one or two from the regular line and so on and so on until the VIP's were all done.

Sunday was fun and all but two of my kids got screwed out of meeting people they really wanted to meet due to failed line management, an overall chaotic scene on Saturday and volunteers that didn't know their asses from a hole in the ground. You can't enjoy a convention when you're walking around ready to punch the next person that asks your group number in the throat. Fan Days may be "by the fans" but it's certainly not "for the fans". I can say with every amount of certainty that Dallas Fan Days will not be getting anymore of my money.

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