CONVENTIONALLY SPEAKING

Ten Ways to Make Wizard World Chicago Better

I’ve been going to Wizard World Chicago since 1999 and I’ve seen it all. The near riot outside the Kevin Smith panel, the silly wrestling ring, CrossGen’s great booth layout with the flatscreen TVs, Bootleg DVD peddlers getting busted, porn stars, wrestling stars and Rob Liefeld peeing.

It is my sworn duty then to let you, the haggard convention-goers, consultants and administration, to hear me out on the top ten things Wizard could do to make the Windy City convention even better.

Weekend Getaway Packages

Partner with one of the fine hotels across from the convention center and set up a weekend package. The conventioneer heads to the Wizard World ticket page online and for $350 or so receives a three-day pass to the show, a three-night stay and one complimentary meal in the hotel’s restaurant. The package could be upgraded from a single room to a double occupancy. It just makes so much sense, I don’t quite understand why this hasn’t happened yet.

Platinum/Gold/Silver Passes

The biggest hassle is that many “regular” conventioneers can’t get into the ticketed events. They pay their $45 to get a three-day pass, but unless they get to the venue very early they will never get a ticket to say, a Kevin Smith panel. Single day passes will never get those tickets and really can’t be catered to on a daily basis. So, I say forgo the single day conventioneer and concentrate on the 3-day pass guest.

I propose new packages that eliminates the confusion and hassle of getting into ticketed events. These new packages should be online only and advertised as such in the magazine. A few tickets might be auctioned off or given away free, but the majority should be online.

With the Platinum package, conventioneers pay $150 and receive a three-day pass and tickets to all events – even the ones that overlap. They only receive one ticket per event.

With the Gold package, conventioneers pay $110 and receive a three-day pass and one ticket to a Saturday event and one for Sunday. The buyer gets to choose which event online when they purchase this package.

With the Silver package, conventioneers pay $75 and receive a three day pass and one ticket to any event. The buyer gets to choose which event online when they purchase this package.

When conventioneers pay for these passes, they receive all their information (passes, tickets, program and pin) in the mail. Obviously, there would be a cut-off date for this, but I think plenty of convention-goers would take advantage of this innovative opportunity. It will make those lines at the beginning to get in that much shorter and will turn a tidy profit for Wizard without them doing a whole lot of extra work.

Three-Day Pass holders get in at 9am everyday.

I understand why it doesn’t happen on Friday, but it really should. If it just isn’t feasible, then it has to be 9am on Saturday and Sunday. The current set up of 9:30 isn’t good enough. An hour early means something to people. Half an hour doesn’t.

I don’t like being herded like cattle through the back way to the convention. It might be the only way to do it, but damn if it doesn’t suck.

Online-only ticketed event

There should be an online only ticketed event. Participants can’t get into that panel unless they bought a package. Perhaps, a few tickets could be handed out at the show for this event, but it should be marketed as an online event only.

Better Swag

For some strange reason, there are no copies of Wizard Magazine in the bag of swag you get when you register. That is simply Marketing 101 and it bugs that crap out of me that they don’t include one in the bag. Instead we get stupid HeroClix cheap pieces of plastic that are quickly thrown away by 90% of all convention-goers. I swear, my HeroClix was “Thug #1.” I’d like a free T-shirt, but I can see that being cost-prohibitive. Is there anything else that can be added to the bag to make it more worthwhile? Think outside the box here.

While we are on the subject of T-shirts, why doesn’t Wizard have a real Event Swag booth? Wouldn’t it be great to be able to buy signed books, t-shirts, subscriptions and other Wizard coolness? When bands go on tour they have tons of merchandise for sale, why not at WW?

Kevin Smith should always be the last event on Saturday in the big room

This is such a no-brainer it boggles the mind, that it wasn’t the case at WW2004. Kevin wants to take as many questions as possible and if it goes a little long all the better. Having two ticketed events back to back means unloading and reloading the room and those who have tickets for both events getting screwed out of seats. Kevin’s panels are always well attended and he should be given as much time as possible.

Have one big ticketed event in the morning and one at the end of the show. That’s the only way to do it.

Special Guest Signing must be at the Fountain

The Fountain is the best place to have signings. Everywhere else sucks donkey. I don’t like being in the corner where Alex Ross and Kevin Smith were signing. One big thing I would do is move the wait line to the other side of the fountain. The reason is that they have more room on the back side and people going by can see who is signing.

One thing I noticed was that plenty of booths had TVs playing loops of cool fan-made movies and what-not. Why couldn’t Wizard set up a portable TV at their major wait areas playing commercials for themselves and other key players. You could spice it up with the Wizard Fan Award winners, tons of video clips, a welcome from Gareb, funny bits with Kevin Smith and other guests. It would be so cool!

Signs, signs, everywhere signs

Speaking of signs, why did they all really suck this year? The only place that does signage right is the DC Booth. They have this TV on loop that tells who is signing and at what time. Why can’t WW do better with their signs? Posters on foam core outside the panel is ok, but why not a huge master panel near the fountain where people can quickly scan and see what’s going on and where. Maybe that needs to be at the information booth.

Security must block all carts. Nothing on wheels gets in save for wheelchair bound guests

I hate carts. Those people suck and block my path. They are cumbersome and clog all the major arteries to get from one place to the next. They take up space in wait lines, they simply get in the way. WW should ban all carts. Security must tell the offenders that they can’t enter with carts. It’s as simple as that.

If you can’t get all your books in your backpack, you’ve brought too many books.

Better information/Better program

I was shocked to see that the program was as cheaply produced as always. It has some interesting points of interest, but most people just want to know when Joe Artist is signing and when their favorite panel is going on. The table of events for each day is so small and ridiculously color coded that it was hard to read and find. Also, I dislike the map of the area, since it was too small to be easily read.

I would take the program and have it redesigned to be more user-friendly and informative. It’s ok right now, but it could be done so much better. It looks like the same person has done the program year in and year out. Why doesn’t Wizard have someone else take a shot at producing the thing?

Overall, I had a great time at Wizard World and I really look forward to the event every year. Now if Gareb would only take my thoughts to heart we’d have ourselves an outstanding experience.