2011 was a monumental year for me and the early stages of my anime obsession. I binged more shows than might be considered healthy, but hours of scouring the Internet for a new series introduced me to two things which proved pivotal to my upbringing: conventions and cosplay. When I attended my first Colossalcon in June of that year, I decided that I would find a way to return for as many summers as I could.
This year was no exception. After a hectic spring semester and hours spent agonizing over my most ambitious cosplay to date, I was looking forward to the convention as a much-needed break. In some ways, Colossalcon delivered; I saw some amazing panels, and I had the opportunity to meet dozens of talented cosplayers. I also had a fantastic time participating in my first photoshoot!
The weekend was not without its complications, however. I was staying with relatives nearly thirty minutes away from the convention center and had no opportunity to change outfits midday. This became a major problem on Saturday, when I found myself stuck in a cumbersome cosplay for over ten hours. (A ten-pound wig and three-inch heels may look impressive, but moving around in them is another story.) Trying to find a balance between fun and comfort ended up being my weekend goal, through which I learned a lot of things I hope to practice at my next convention.
For anyone looking to pay Colossalcon a visit next year, here are a few tips I have gathered over the last six years that may come in handy.
1. Arrive early. Panels start as early as 9 a.m. on Friday and Saturday, and it doesn’t take much longer for the parking lots to become full. Two years ago, we had to drive around for nearly an hour to find a spot. Thursday and Sunday are usually much less crowded (and affordable), but on any day of the convention, a five-minute walk on the shorter end is practically a guarantee.
2. Pack your own food. The Kalahari Resort is a gorgeous facility, but it wouldn’t be where it is today without charging an exorbitant amount for food. There’s nothing wrong with buying from the concession stands, but the money you pay for a basket of chicken tenders could go towards something more lasting, like a poster or plushie from the dealer’s room. I may have eaten the same sandwich for three days straight, but the money I saved was worth it!
3. Consider investing in a water park pass. People call it Water Park Con for a reason! Day passes can be pricey, but Kalahari now offers a less expensive night pass for con-goers on a budget. Cosplayers and photographers with scheduled photoshoots can enter the water park for free with permission, but access to the pools and water rides requires a wrist band. Anyone caught using the facilities without a pass can be removed or forced to purchase one on the spot, so exercise caution when debating going for a swim.
4. This is your convention experience; don’t let others ruin it! It can be fun to meet up with friends at the convention, but don’t spend your entire day running around the convention center in hopes of finding one person. The time you spend feeling miserable about a missed opportunity is time that could be spent making your own memories. I would love to meet tons of cosplayers I admire from social media, but Colossalcon is a big convention, and I know that good luck has a lot to do with locating people. That being said, if you make plans in advance to meet someone, swap phone numbers to save yourself some stress.
5. Know your limits. At summer conventions, dehydration becomes a big problem. Intricate cosplays make for stunning photoshoots, but when your gauntlets keeps you from reaching into your bag or your wings make it impossible to carry anything on your back, it becomes twice as hard to remember to eat and drink enough. If you need to stop and sit down, let your friends know. They will understand. You may be a few minutes late to that panel, but no one wants you to pass out.
Colossalcon is a great way to kick off your summer. Just make sure to take care of yourself so it doesn’t kick you! 😉