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article imageReview: Fan Expo is the home of celebrities & disorganization Special

By Sarah Gopaul     Sep 10, 2018 in Entertainment
Many fans have a love/hate relationship with Fan Expo Canada as it offers one-of-a-kind celebrity experiences north of the border, but still can’t compete in the organization department.
First, a few facts. In its 24th year, Fan Expo is the third largest fan convention in North America. The yearly attendance average is 140,000. Celebrities such as William Shatner, Norman Reedus and Stan Lee have returned to the event multiple times. Kevin Smith hosted a live podcast a few years ago and the con has presented cast reunions for the original Degrassi, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Student Bodies and most recently, Back to the Future. On paper, this is one of the greatest fan conventions on the continent… unfortunately, that’s not always the impression on the ground.
This year’s chief celebration was dedicated to Back to the Future with special guests Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson and Tom Wilson coming together for a specially ticketed panel on Friday night. Three members of the cast of The Princess Bride — Cary Elwes, Chris Sarandon and Wallace Shawn — were also present, alongside a number of actors from Degrassi: The Next Generation and WWE superstars, including Triple H. Other TV shows were also represented, including Rose McIver of iZombie, Mark Sheppard formerly of Supernatural, Karen Gillan of Doctor Who fame and several actors from Star Trek: Discovery. Jason Momoa and Evangeline Lilly also made appearances, mostly in support of their recent and upcoming blockbusters.
Whether you want to hear behind-the-scenes anecdotes via juicy panel discussions, get your prized memorabilia signed by your favourite artist or spend a few seconds shoulder-to-shoulder during a photo-op, Fan Expo rarely disappoints in the special guest department… though some of these rare opportunities have a hefty price tag to match.
Fan Expo Canada 1018
Fan Expo Canada 1018
Fan Expo Canada
This was also the inaugural year for Funko, a toy manufacturer that produces immensely popular vinyl figures based on pop culture icons, to have a booth at Fan Expo. They presented 10 Canadiana exclusives, including pieces based on Fox’s Marty McFly, Dudley Do Right, and Bob and Doug Mackenzie. However, the process for attaining an opportunity to purchase something from the booth was a contentious one that favoured VIP and Premium passholders (and fast runners), while essentially shutting out regular and Deluxe ticketholders. Funko offers far more and limited items at other conventions, but the distribution of timeslots to purchase have been better managed with lotteries or designated lines. On the other hand, Funko also recorded their weekly podcast, the “Funko Funkast,” live at the con and that turned out to be a true fan event, even though the lines were still poorly handled.
Fan Expo Canada 1018
Fan Expo Canada 1018
Fan Expo Canada
Fan Expo’s general disorganization is almost an inside joke amongst long-time attendees. Underestimating the popularity of certain movies or TV shows has resulted in avoidable disappointment and near-riots as Q&As are booked in rooms with capacities far below what would be required. Lines are “capped” by staff/volunteers only to reopen almost immediately after groups of enthusiasts have been turned away. Autograph signings without a schedule can leave fans in line for hours until the talent arrives, or returns from their photo-op/panel/break. A lack of RFID badges makes it more difficult to manage capacity, resulting in the return of days when the fire marshal was required to close entrances to the building until they’re satisfied it’s safe to reopen. As on-site staff are a mix of Metro Toronto Convention Centre and Fan Expo employees, they’re directives are often out of sync, which is a cause of frustration for everyone involved. Moreover, the answer one receives most to an issue raised with any level of Fan Expo staff is “there’s nothing I/we can do” — a response that is generally a last resort at other comparable conventions.
Every con has its good and bad features, but most tend to the negative elements to improve future events – Fan Expo has had the same pro and con list for years and it doesn’t look like they’re changing.
More about fan e xpo, fan expo canada, fan expo 2018, fan convention, comic convention
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