Planning to visit MEGACON Orlando for the first time? Overwhelmed by all the amazing guests, panels, and activity options? Here’s how to do it right.
First Timer’s Guide to MEGACON Orlando
What’s a MEGACON? MEGACON Orlando is…
“the South East’s largest comics, sci-fi, horror, anime, and gaming event, attracting over 100,000 fans each year across four big days.”
Or at least that’s what the website says. I like to describe it as the biggest bunch of wild and crazy fans of every kind of pop culture you can imagine. There’s something for everyone.
The first time I attended this convention, I was a bit overwhelmed by the seemingly endless exhibition floor plus myriad scheduled panels, Q&A sessions, classes, autograph sessions, and photo ops. How do you sort out what to do and what to skip? After my second year attending the event, I felt much more comfortable picking and choosing exactly what I want to do. Plan ahead and you’ll have a great time.
Buy Entry Tickets
You’re not getting in without a ticket, so you might as well buy one with an advanced purchase discount if you can. This is particularly true if you’re planning to be there for most of the days of the event. On the other hand, if you’re waiting to pick a single day to attend based on what’s happening when, it’s perfectly OK to wait until you see the final schedule so you’re sure to catch that live Q&A with your favorite celebrity.
The first year I attended, I bought my ticket ahead of time because I knew that I wanted to get my photo taken with Lucy Lawless. I purchased my photo op ticket at the same time; more on that below. Since I wasn’t planning on buying any autograph or celebrity photo op tickets for the 2019 event, I just rolled up on my chosen day and bought a ticket at the gate.
Study the Schedule
Typically, a tentative schedule is released first; then, after any scheduling errors are caught, adjustments are made and the final schedule is released. Of course, nothing is set in stone. Celebrities do cancel (sometimes reducing their number of days at the event, sometimes canceling entirely), so keep that in mind.
Choose Your Events
Time to make a plan. I suggest starting with the big events first. The biggest events on the schedule, in my opinion, are the celebrity Q&A sessions. These are the ones where you need to get in line for the event a little early so that you’re sure to get a spot.
After you’ve chosen your favorite Q&A sessions, move on to the celebrity autograph and photo ops. Note: these cost extra! If you want one, buy your (separate) ticket ahead of time. They can and do sell out, especially for the most well-known celebrities.
Finally, fill in the gaps with any other events you wish to experience. Note that although most are open to all convention attendees, some require a separately purchased ticket.
Plan Your Arrival
MEGACON Orlando is held at the Orange County Convention Center. What you may not know is that the OCCC is divided into several concourses. The North/South concourses are in one complex, while the East/West concourses are in a separate complex across the street.
Find out which concourse in which the event is being held to make sure that you head to the right parking area. The buildings are huge, so I also recommend finding out exactly which part of the building is being used as the entry point. That way, you can find the closest and most convenient parking.
Plan at least 30 minutes just to park and get into the convention itself. If you are in a far-flung lot that requires a shuttle, plan for an hour to park, ride, and get into the convention. You’ll have clear security and present your admission media on your way in. Add more time if you need to get to a panel or Q&A as soon as you arrive.
Soak in the Atmosphere
Once you’re inside, stroll the convention floor. You’ll find hundreds of vendors of all kinds of merchandise. Food and drink are typically located along one or more of the main exhibition hall perimeters; however, it’s pricey. I view it as a last resort and prefer to have a snack or drink to get through the day, then dine at an outside location later.
— Niki Watson (@nikiwats23) May 19, 2019
Be sure to follow common sense etiquette when interacting with cosplayers (and anyone else, for that matter).
Get to Your Events on Time
Sometimes, your chosen events will be close, even next door, to each other. Other times, you may need to hike to a completely different concourse. Check the official schedule and make sure you allot enough time to get from one location to another.
All that walking and waiting can be tiring. Drink water when you can, and pop outside to get some fresh air. Look for common area seating where you can rest for a few minutes. You’ll get a second wind and be ready for more fun.
Can’t get enough of fan conventions? Don’t miss how to plan for the perfect celebrity photo op.
Thank you to C. P. R. Photography, on Instagram at captainpuertorico_ and Facebook at captainpuertoricophotography, and jbermudez3693 for allowing me to use a photo from MEGACON Orlando 2019 for this article’s featured image.