SacAnime Winter 2014 (Friday-Saturday Jan 3rd-4th)

This was my first time really getting to enjoy SacAnime to it's fullest, though I still missed a lot of stuff. My boyfriend and I arrived on Friday, January 3rd and stayed one night, leaving on Saturday, January 4th. We stayed at the Holiday Inn Express down the street, which was a little farther of a walk than I personally would have liked, but we made due. We also hosted our panel, Magikarp: A History on Friday evening.

We weren't given much instruction (actually we weren't given any instruction) on how panelists were supposed to go about checking in. All we were told was that there was a partial badge refund available for panelists after their panel was completed. We had roughly an hour until our panel, so we figured the best place to check first was the panel room itself. I asked the volunteers out front if we needed to have a badge/wristband in order to get into our own panel. They told us, yes. Kind of a minor annoyance, but okay. The volunteers directed us to registration, and off we went.

The registration room was more of a big empty room with some desks (and volunteers). There was tape on the floor to indicate a line, but since it was later in the afternoon, there was no line. There were volunteers walking around, but no one offered us assistance, and we kind of didn't know who to ask. We vaguely followed the tape lines until we found the front. Now for the age-old question: Do panelists go to at-con registration or pre-registration? Every convention seems to do it differently. Since we hadn't paid anything in advanced, we went to the at-con registration, this is usually the safest bet.

We bought full-weekend passes, even though we weren't staying for Sunday, because we planned to go to a panel on Saturday morning, and full-weekend was $5 cheaper (each) than buying Friday and Saturday passes separately. Then we went back to the panel room.

By this time, there was an impressive-looking line forming in the hallway. And around the corner. And partway down some stairs. We sat in the hall for a while, not really wanting to start setting up too early, because we don't want to have to start the panel too early, and we only have about ten minutes of pre-panel fillers. About fifteen minutes before our time slot, we asked if we could start setting up. The previous panel had been cancelled, so there were no other panelists to wait for or anything.

Shortly after we started setting up, one of the volunteers asked us if they could start letting people in. "There was never really a line," She said, "We told them they could come in before you got here, but they've convinced themselves there's a line." We had a good laugh at that, it kind of shows the hive-mind of people. We had some minor technical difficulties when setting up, so I had to run back and forth between the stage and the door, which were on opposite sides of a rather big room, to talk to the volunteers. Eventually we got everything sorted out though, and our panel began on time!

During the panel.
Also the only picture that exists of me at this con.
It was a pretty good panel, ran ten minutes under our allotted time, which is fine because we had an hour and a half, and that's a lot of Magikarp! I had recently revamped a huge chunk of the panel, and hadn't made notecards for that chunk (still haven't), so I had to wing it. Winging it actually went better than reading from the cards! Most of what I had to talk about was on the slideshow anyway, I only had to narrate and elaborate, and we've done this panel so many times, it wasn't all that difficult. I'm probably not going to re-make notecards for that part, and I might even ditch some others, doing it from memory was actually easier, I'm just no good at remembering the number-y parts.

After the panel, we trekked our way back to the hotel room to drop off the laptop that the panel is on and grab some food. We're always sure to book a hotel with a mini-fridge so that we can bring ingredients for sandwiches! This time I just pre-made sandwiches the night before, which only works for short con trips. For three days or more, it's easier to just bring ingredients. Sandwiches are great con foods because they're cheap if you buy the ingredients yourself, even the cheapest ingredients are tasty, they're pretty filling without making you feel sluggish, and you can put whatever you want in them! My boyfriend and I are pretty simple and just do turkey and cheese on whole wheat bread with condiments. (A note about turkey: We prefer the taste of ham, but ham can trigger migraines, which I get frequently, so turkey is best! A helpful tip if you're prone to migraines.)

We ate and then headed back to the convention center to meet up with some of my friends to play together on our 3DS's! It wasn't until we got there that Ed realized he had forgotten his 3DS back in the hotel room. We took turns playing Mario Kart on my 3DS, but then eventually decided to trek all the way back to the hotel again to get his. We played a few more rounds of Mario Kart before heading off to the Swap Meet.

The Swap Meet was so crowded. Easily the most crowded swap meet I've ever been in. I don't go to a lot of swap meets, but daaaaaang. I honestly mostly blame the con's organization of the thing. All of the sellers were around the edge of the room with none in the middle, and they were all sitting on the floor. I can understand that they couldn't afford to provide everyone with tables, so I can give them a pass on that, but the layout was just bad. There was a wall of people, three bodies deep around the entire room. I'm a really tiny person, which is a massive double-edged sword. On the one hand, I can weave between people pretty easy, but on the other hand, and I could get crushed pretty easy! I sort of just hung back and played on my 3DS, streetpassing people, until the crowd thinned out. I was lucky enough to find a cheap copy of "Katamari Damacy" (I had never played any Katamari games before, but love "Noby Noby Boy", a game by the same creators) and a small Koffing plush to go with my Koffing cosplay!

I played just a little bit more 3DS with a friend before wrapping up the day and heading back to the hotel. Not a super eventful day, but super fun.

The next day, I woke up feeling pretty sick. I had a sore throat, a fever, and just general body aches. We were supposed to get up early for free breakfast, but I told Ed to go without me so that I could rest more and maybe bring me back juice if he could. (He brought me back oranje juice and a bagel and cream cheese!) We had mostly packed up everything the night before, but we double-checked to be sure, grabbed our stuff, checked out of the hotel, and drove to a parking garage closer to the convention center.

We really only wanted to see the "Avatar" panel, probably mostly for Dante Basco, since his panel was at the same time as ours the night before. Why anyone went to our panel instead of his, I'll never know. We got in line super early so that we could get good seats, and the panel was a blast!

Afterward, we went to the Dealer's Hall and I found a copy of "Orb 3D" for the NES! Excuse me while I become a hipster for a second. "Orb 3D" was super hard for me to find for some reason. I've been looking for two years. It's this really cool game, similar to a one-player "Pong" with a 3D element and different goals for each level. I played it as a kid and have really fond memories of it, and it was the first game I wanted to get when I bought an NEW again. Unfortunately, like I said, it's super hard to find, so when I finally came across it, at an animal convention of all places, I snapped it up so fast, I'm surprised it didn't catch on fire.

We went to lunch at a Japanese place around the corner, and during lunch we suddenly remembered that we never got our panelist refunds, so we went back. We went to registration and asked the first person we saw. He directed us to another woman, who made a phone call. She told us that the Head of Panels would know and asked us who that was. I'm still a little confused as to why she didn't know who staff was, but maybe she was just a volunteer, not an actual staff member, I can never tell. I told her that we couldn't remember his name (I'm so bad at names), but we hadn't seen him all weekend. She repeated this into the phone and told us that someone was going to go find him.

We didn't wait for very long, I was just grateful we didn't have to go find him. I hate getting the runaround from staff, so even though we were both tired and wanted to go home, we waited patiently, hoping that the refund would be worth it. We ended up getting a cash refund in the amount of a the badge for the day our panel was on. It turned out to be more than half of what we paid for our badges! Definitely worth it.

I had a really great time at SacAnime Winter, just hanging out and seeing things and whatever! The swap met could have been a lot better, but it's okay, I'll get over it. We've already booked our hotel room for SacAnime Summer, staying two nights this time, and we get a VIP badge for each night that we booked because we booked so early! The convention discount for the hotel was really nice too, and I'm so excited to have a VIP badge for the first time ever! And we don't even have to do a panel to get a discount, so we can spend the entire convention doing whatever with no obligations! Though we are considering entering the cosplay contest... (Actually, I'm 100% sure I will, it's just a matter of details and whether or not Ed's going to enter with me.) So yeah! Obviously this convention was good enough that we're going back!

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