I’ve been going to Fan Expo Canada with Kaylin and Maks for the last three years. They’ve both reached the age where we can manage to do the entire show floor with a minimal amount of whining, and it’s fun.
I decided about five years ago that I was done with Fan Expo, it’s huge, it’s crowded, and I always feel exhausted at the end of a day there. Against my better judgement I took them the first time and they absolutely loved it, seeing the show through their eyes made me love it too.
This year I have been to more comic conventions than any other year. I’m going out and marketing Manage Comics, so I am meeting retailers, and talking to people. I’ve been to the April Toronto Comicon (which happened to fall on a PD day, so the kids came), the May Niagara Falls Comicon (which I flew solo), and I’ll be attending at least two more shows this year, so I had floated the idea that we skip Fan Expo past them.
That was met with a resounding “No, please daddy, we want to go.” When I found out Stan Lee would be making his final Canadian appearance, the deal was sealed and I bought us tickets. I checked my VIA points status, and found out I could get two tickets for free, and the third ticket would be only $35.00. Add parking in London in, and we’d be looking at $49.00. Even with my ridiculously efficient Honda Fit, I can’t drive to Toronto and back, and park in Toronto for less than $49, so that was a no-brainer. I gave the kids the option of 6:25am, or 7:30, and they decided they wanted the earliest possible train. I ponied up the $110 for a Stan Lee photo, and booked it all.
Our friend Larry picked up our wrist bands on Wednesday, meaning that when we arrived on Friday we could go right in.
The night before the con, both kids asked me to make sure I set their alarms for 5:30. We were up and on the road at 5:45, and in our seats on the way to Toronto by 6:15am. The ride in was uneventful other than a grass fire outside of Mississauga that took us an extra 20 minutes, but we were still in Toronto before 9. We changed our evening tickets from the 5:30pm train to the 7pm train, and met Larry and his son Callum at Brookfield Place for a pre-convention bite to eat.
We got to the show and were on the show floor by 10:17, which was pretty awesome. We headed over to Peter at All New Comics and set up his brand new sign, and then were off to wander the show floor.
The kids found some cool stuff at EB, and Maks really wanted to buy a Lego set (but I convinced him to keep an eye out for cool things he could only get at the convention). We got some awesome photo ops with Fear the Walking Dead and the Ash from Army of Darkness chainsaw, we saw some cool games, and checked out the Lego booth and the Hasbro store.
Before we knew it, it was time for us to head over to the North building and get set up for the Stan Lee photo. We were told that they were running about 30 minutes behind, so our 12:15 ticket wouldn’t be honoured until 12:45. At 12:45 we came back, and found out we were hundreds deep in the 12:45 line, so we sat down and waited. Here’s my only crappy experience at Fan Expo. In the south building, everyone was super friendly, helpful, and things were very well organized. In the North building, the volunteers seem stressed, overworked, and annoyed. We were yelled at several times, told to move along, told to go into the wrong line once, and at one point Maks was snapped at by a volunteer. He got quiet, and about five minutes later told me that he wanted to go home. I felt really bad for him, he was embarrassed in front of all of these people, but I hyped him back up, and had him rest in my lap for a bit (the dude had been up since 5:30, and was pretty much on the go since then, so he was hitting a wall), by now it was nearing 2, and the kids were getting hangry.
Soon enough, we were rushing through the line to meet Stan. From the time we scanned our tickets until we left Stan’s side, 30 seconds had passed. It was a whirlwind, and I didn’t even have time enough to put my ticket away. Stan was sweet, he said “And who do we have here?” to the kids, and thanked us as we left “You have a great day.” he said as we got out of the way so the next photo op could happen.
We got our picture, and headed out to grab some food. Again, I had a slight run in with a security guard who got irritated with me when I asked how to get out of the building (because all of the clearly marked “Exits” had the word “No” in front of them on the North side…UGH). Kaylin wanted Subway and Maks wanted McDonalds…the two places in the mall with the slowest order takers and the slowest service. We ate, we drank, and we headed back to the show.
In the North building we saw all the Star Wars dudes, and lots of other cosplayers. Back in the South building, we wandered around looking for comics, books, and special things. I had my hands on a Cully Hamner page, but had no idea how I would get it home undamaged. Instead I chose a few comics, a Stan Lee figure, and a really cool Batman statue that I’ve been thinking about for a while.
After another whirlwind few hours, it was time to head back to London. The kids were exhausted, and after we showed off our loot to Char, we were all off to bed, wiped out from the day.
It was an amazing day, I had a great time and really enjoyed myself, and the kids had a blast. I’m not sure if we’ll go to Fan Expo next year, but I say the same thing every year, and we always end up coming back, so who am I kidding?