Last year, I mentioned a long (4 hour) wait for badges. This year’s line, I am ecstatic to report, was much improved. I spent less than 10 minutes getting my badge. Take note: this was not 10 minutes of waiting. This was from the time I walked up to the sign that pointed pre-reg to the left, walked through the queue, strode up to the counter, handed over my QR Tag, watched badges being printed, picked up my swag bags, and walked out of the registration area.
The Fanime staff did wonderful work in getting this process fixed from the horrors of the last few years. According to the information in the program, one of the reasons this was much improved was due to the purchase of more printers. Regardless, this was the shortest line experience at the con, ever.
After I picked up the badges, I notified the other members of my group (who were also shocked at the speed) and we checked out the Dealer’s Hall. This year the Dealer’s Hall was in both Hall 2 and Hall 1 (the divider having been removed). Artist Alley was in the brand new Grand Ballroom, with Gaming remaining in Hall 3.
With Dealer’s Hall being in both Hall 2 and 1 this year, they did away with the 24 hour Food Court. However, for the first time ever, the refreshments area in the back of the Dealer’s Hall was actually open and selling food (not sure what food as I never went there). Also in the Dealer’s Hall was Tengu (a local restaurant). I was disappointed that none of the places from last year had returned. No Asian Grocer, no crazy drink place, and no Psycho Donuts. If you made the short trek to Psycho Donuts, you would have found that they did offer their usual Psycho Sushi, along with some Pokemon themed cake balls. Their site and twitter feed had proclaimed they would be offering some anime themed donuts as well, but when I showed up they had nothing, though I was encouraged to check back in the afternoon.
Artists Alley’s new location was nice and they added a small lounge area on the back wall. Apparently Greg and Liz Dean (from RealLifeComics.com) were there. I was totally oblivious.
My favorite event of Fanime is always the Swap Meet. This year it was located across the street in the Civic Center/Auditorium. In theory it opened earlier than previous years, though I think that was just for the swappers to get in and get situated. I say “theory” because I was walking to the end of the line when 7:30 PM arrived. The Civic Center is a much smaller venue and they kept the total number of people inside pretty static – meaning that you only got in when someone else left. This was a good thing; the line for the swap meet was huge and the only way we would have all fit inside would have been in the stands.
It was a bit annoying that it took 2 hours to get inside the Swap Meet, but once inside, it was fairly easy to look around.
The main problem seemed to be with those vendors who brought TCG cards. Trading Card Games are great and I love playing them. I know that you can get great deals when you meet a fellow player and start to talking, however it can take forever to do this at the swap meet. In previous years (when the Swap Meet was in Hall 1 or Hall 3), this wasn’t a problem, because you would just step around those people and move on. It is my supposition that this (TCG + small space) was a major factor in the wait time.
Clockwork Alchemy is Fanime’s sibling. This year it was at the Doubletree Hotel (near the airport). A free shuttle was provided to help attendees of both conventions visit the other (as your badge got you into both).
The Doubletree is a smaller and quieter venue, but the decorations that were put up really suited the steampunk convention. They also had their own Artist’s Bazaar with many shiny things.
One of my favorite acquisitions this year was Japanese Melon Bread (apparently it is shipped frozen). One vendor had it this year and it was my first time to try it. It was excellent and I highly recommend it if you get the chance.
In closing, Fanime 2014 was a great experience and very enjoyable.