To quote a line from Air, it’s not enough to make memories; make happy ones. My first Katsucon and visit to the Gaylord left me with more happy memories than the entire loot of the Merchant Hall. Before the good and bad, let’s start with the ugly. I am referring to the double booking of the convention center made by the Gaylord to both BBYO and Katsucon on the same weekend.
It was not ugly.
Katsucon first announced a possible conflict Thursday night on Twitter. Apparently, BBYO had reserved the Cherry Blossom Foyer which includes the coveted gazebo for photoshoots.
@lkon2 it's not blocked off, it's crowded and we just found out when we went, "ON NOES!" Don't worry, we outnumber them 8:1.
— Katsucon Anime Con (@katsucon) February 14, 2013
Going into the wee hours of Friday morning, another tweet foreshadowed a gloomy sunrise.
We are working with the hotel to get a definitive answer about the gazebo. There's miscommunication on all sides. :(
— Katsucon Anime Con (@katsucon) February 15, 2013
Then on the morning of opening day, it became official.
Cherry Blossom Foyer Unavailable: http://t.co/xNPiNebD
— Katsucon Anime Con (@katsucon) February 15, 2013
I personally did not think or feel this caused a detriment to my experience. In fact, I wasn’t even aware of the situation until sometime Friday night as I scrolled back through my Twitter feeds while resting my feet. The weather Friday bestowed a late Valentine’s kiss to Katsucon with sunny and relatively warm temperatures that provided limitless photo opportunity outside. Of course, those who had planned photoshoots at the gazebo Friday may feel otherwise but that’s a small percentage of the attendees.
I keep saying Friday because Katsucon got the gazebo back. When reached for an official statement, Katsucon stated:
While we had some unexpected overlap in common use areas on Friday that led to some tensions, by Saturday we had been able to work out an amicable solution. Katsucon appreciates the help the Gaylord was able to give us in order to ensure that both events were able to run alongside one another smoothly.
In other words, the foyer that makes up the walkway was divided in half. BBYO retained the side giving them entry to the Cherry Blossom Hall and Katsucon received the side where the gazebo sits. Taking photos there later in the weekend, I realized why it’s such a coveted spot.
It’s an universal fact that elevators are the most scarce commodity in a convention. This led to my only dismay at the double booking. Because I was lucky to have a room on the fourth floor, the stairs offered a viable option. However, on two occasions, hotel, BBYO and/or Katsucon staff prevented me from entering a BBYO reserved space in order to take the stairs even though the doors leading to it are mere yards away.
It proved extremely frustrating. With those two exceptions, the other BBYO or hotel staff, after stopping me briefly, allowed me to enter said reserved space and take the dozen steps or so. It did amuse me that they watched to make sure it was the stairs I was taking.
Riding an elevator late Saturday night with another attendee, I concluded that the segregation was unfortunate and wasted a good opportunity. The gentleman lamented the space restrictions BBYO placed on us and I reminded him that the reverse is also true. Why does it matter if one group enters another’s reserved space as long as it’s public? Staff is positioned outside each room so there’s no issue of people “sneaking” into events they did not pay for. Does it matter who photobombs? Does it matter who one has to fight through congested traffic bottlenecks?
Upon exiting the stairs on a particular occasion, I landed into a huge mob of BBYO attendees who were waiting outside an event. Embarrassed at my intrusion, I rapidly made my way out when a lovely lady complimented on my cosplay as I hurried past. I could only reply with a quick thanks. I believe Katsucon members would all appreciate the gesture and BBYO attendees would have welcomed the chance to do so.
My colleague Shizuka had a different experience however. She will elaborate in a future post.
It’s easy to see why Katsucon is the premier choice for cosplay. Even at night, I was drawn to the atrium and fountain flaunting their beauty with splendid lighting and seductive music. The void I always feel at Otakon as night falls dissipated through the glass enclosure and into the sky as I strolled through, surrounded by the sound of laughter and memories in the making. I do wish Katsucon would consider moving the dates to a warmer season to take full advantage of the breathtaking views outdoors.
I think Katsucon deserves a deep bow for having non stop programming from Friday to Sunday. The staff necessary to accomplish such a feat demonstrates immense passion and dedication to maximize attendees’ entertainment. Speaking of which, the staff in Live Programming that I spoke with Sunday afternoon were promptly helpful.
In short, Katsucon 2013 was the best of times, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the spring of hope, and I had everything before me. It’s an auspicious start to my con season.