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MegaCon 2024: Orlando's Ultimate Fandom Extravaganza

Written By Jaimz Dillman

Photos by Jaimz Dillman & Grant Duvall

Big names, big crowds, and big money spent all happened in Orlando as MegaCon 2024 descended on the Orange County Convention Center inviting all fandoms to celebrate.

The vendor room was abuzz with early arrivals hoping to snag con-exclusive merchandise and collectors seeking out their favorite artists for new pieces. Even though it was the first day of the 4 days, prepaid parking was already sold out leaving cars to park in overflow at area hotels and be shuttled over. The cosplay also started off powerful. Every kind of TV show, movie, comic book, video game, and anime could be seen in costumes throughout the con floor. Half the fun of these gatherings is seeing the new and inventive ways folks represent what they love. And showing off your creations!

Meetups happen through the weekend for the like-minded to gather and take photos, discuss theories and ideas, and maybe even make new connections. If there’s one thing about MegaCon you can come away with- it’s a weekend of joy and acceptance. Wanna dress like a killer teddy bear video game character? Sure! Are you a guy who prefers to moonlight as a Japanese maid? Why not? Are you a gal who identifies as a movie rock star? Do it! You don’t want to identify as anything and become an entirely different life form? Go for it!  No matter your interest, you’ll find your people and be lauded for your efforts.

The schedule boasted loads of celebrity panels, fan discussions, special tracks, meeting rooms, live performances, improv shows, red carpet photo walls, photo ops with stars, autograph sessions… the list goes on and on. Seriously, if you couldn’t find something of interest during the con, what are you even doing with life?

But- of course- when something so popular grows as big as 2 halls of the convention center… there will be drawbacks. Patience better be packed in your backpacks and suitcases cause lines are long, and confusing at times, with mixed info coming from staff and volunteers. For the most part, people are lovely. Sharing war stories while waiting for their next pic, panel, or autograph, often forming alliances to maximize efforts. “You stay here for me while I run and grab that guy’s autograph.” “Save my place, I gotta run to the bathroom!” “Can you grab a bottle of water for me? I haven’t had anything all day!” Just a few things overhead while I was waiting myself.

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VIP attendees (upgraded passes with paid-for perks) could go in front of anyone who’d been waiting hours with regular passes. Those who had prepurchased signatures or pictures online weren’t given any preference over anyone who walked up and paid at tables, and celebs being pulled away for photo ops and panels left voids for fans waiting hours just to meet their selected stars. If you missed your chance, that was it. No refunds or assistance was given and the customer service was overwhelmed with complaints but not budging on their policy. As fans look forward to meeting stars they’ve long coveted, quite a few hearts were broken when opportunities were lost.

Carey Elwes of Princess Bride - and Saw and Stranger Things- had a line of at least 3+ hours all weekend outside his private tented-off space. Several other celebs requested the same sequestration like Anthony Daniels of Star Wars and Susan Sarandon of Thelma and Louise fame. One explanation was that privacy has a better experience for meeting and greeting. Another was continued social distancing which was also seen in photo opera from Geena Davis and Katy Segal.

Most everyone making appearances was very personable with those shelling out the cash for their few minutes of face time. Elwes was totally worth the wait for me personally and I’ll praise his interaction as one of my fave celeb chats. John Rhys-Davies of LOTR and Indiana Jones was also a fan fave coming out from behind his table and giving hugs along with family photos. Several voice actors threw out a couple of quotes of their notable characters during signings. Hearing Billy West say “Joy!” from Ren and Stimpy definitely brought back childhood memories.

You take the good with the bad at these kinds of mass meetups as it’s only expected to keep growing. Attendees who’ve visited other such conventions suggested appointed times to return for their spot in line and limiting the VIP tickets a little more. But, as memorable interactions were more than worth the tediousness of long waits for most, it doesn’t seem like the fervor of fandom is dying down anytime soon. And yes, I’ll most definitely be back. Now to get started on next year’s costumes… where is that glue gun?

(Click on Photo to open in Full Screen)


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