My decision to pop my cherry with Anime USA coincided with her decision to relocate to a new location for 2012. As one might expect, there were a few issues regarding accommodations but the friction soon gave way to a delightful and memorable experience.
I overhead previous attendees that led me to believe that prior iterations were an exercise in escalator mastery. I am happy to announce that such is not the case for this year. Upon entering the main entrance, one is greeted by a magnificent atrium (Exhibit A) that serves like a traffic circle. The view from above said atrium at the mezzanine level, as it’s called, provides unparalleled angles to snipe photos (Exhibit B). Having said that, to move between the two levels require traversing through enough landscape that allows targets to allude capture in person should one desire an intimate close up.
The half atrium leading to the Exhibition level (bottom) does not suffer from this issue with the simple placement of an escalator pair (Exhibit C). I was puzzled at first by the lack of bi directional escalators on either side of this atrium but soon realized the ingenuity of the design in directing traffic flow. (Down escalator on left side of photo and up escalator on the other side.) By pairing each escalator with a set of stairs, the option is always available for one to move in any direction but human behavior quickly revealed that rarely does one deviate from the direction of the accompanied escalator. Bonzai! Traffic rarely collides except the occasions when one is in a hurry like yours truly running to retrieve items before press room is closed for interview.
Of course, one can point out the obvious that in complying with the direction of traffic, one actually traverses more landscape which in turn takes more time to move from point to point. I concur. However, the bottleneck at the bottom or top of escalators is almost non existent as there is no intersecting traffic like at, ahem, Otakon. In short, I argue that it takes less time. Then again, AUSA has a fraction of attendees of Otakon so I am sure that’s a factor.
Speaking of attendance, Shizuka accurately concluded that the small size facilitates the birth of new friendships as one is more likely to encounter the same person over and over which I can attest to. I believe the layout also plays a role. It is essentially a loop with distributaries.
The hotel needs more restrooms. I have to walk downstairs to do my business? Nani? Someone at closing ceremonies said the same for trash cans which I agree with. And cups. I applaud the hotel/AUSA not only for placing an adequate number of water coolers but keeping them replenished. Only once did I encounter an empty cooler but there was another one literally five seconds away. Unfortunately, one cannot consume water by mere sight when cups are lacking. I will let the reader use her imagination to solve this problem.
Cell phone reception remained above fair most of the weekend. I have Verizon which gave me 3G on the lower level but my friend had 4G with AT&T. It does go in and out which I am ok with. On the other hand, I had zero reception on the top floor Saturday night before the concert. That was annoying.
I like to go on record and state that the staff of AUSA is amazing. Not everyone was helpful but given the new setting, it’s completely understandable. Special mention goes out to the lady that rattled off a handful of panels for my perusal after informing me that Cosplay Burlesque had reached capacity Friday night. She definitely wanted me to enjoy the con. I should’ve gotten her name but someone please give her a raise.
My first Anime USA is like a good kiss. Unforgettable and leaving one wanting for more. Luckily, AUSA 2013 moved up to September 13th so I won’t have to wait a full year!