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Food at the Convention

If you’re coming to the Convention, you’re staying long enough to get hungry! “What is there to eat around here? Is there anything I’ll like?” Of course! There are lots to choose from, so if there isn’t anything you like, you probably don’t like food!

Located on the east side of the Convention Center is the Great Expoteria, an a la carte restaurant with a variety of fare. There are also concession stands throughout the Convention Center where you can get a quick snack or drink.

The Park at Rosemont entertainment district has many bar and restaurant choices (along with a movie theater, bowling alley, and comedy club), located on the west side of the Rosemont Public Parking Garage. It’s so new that they’re still adding more restaurants! For the most up to date info and restaurant specials visit their site at

If you’re going to leave the Convention to drive to a nearby restaurant, the parking lots may not have in and out privileges, unless you’re staying at the hotel and each hotel has different policies. Be sure to check with the front desk! For all the dining options in the city of Rosemont, visit their site at

If you’re staying at one of the many area hotels, room service is always excellent and makes you feel posh! Each hotel has many bar and restaurant choices within the hotel as well. Some hotels and restaurants may even have specials for our attendees, so don’t forget to mention ACen!

Optimally, cash and credit cards are much more portable, but bringing food with you can be an inexpensive alternative. If coming to the Convention is going to be a road trip for you, you may as well bring some meals, snacks, and munchies for the weekend. Remember that most hotel rooms don’t have microwaves or refrigerators, and depending on what kind of room you’re staying in, it might be against the fire code to have a hot plate or food warmer in your room. Be sure to check with the front desk!

If you’re just coming for the day, eat a good breakfast before you come to the Convention, treat yourself to one of the finer restaurants in the area for lunch, and then have a nice dinner after you leave.

Above all else, don’t forget to eat, and to eat properly! Otaku cannot live on Pocky alone! Don’t spend all your money on toys, t-shirts, and manga, forgetting that you have to eat for the rest of the time you’re at the Convention!

Where have you eaten at or around the Convention? Feel free to leave a comment!

An Interview with ACen’s Department Head of Exhibit Space

Anime Central is a convention run by fans for fans! As such, we like show you the faces of those who volunteer their time to help run the Convention. This week’s post is an interview with our Department Head for the Exhibit Space!

And speaking of the Exhibit Space, to keep up to date on who is coming to sell, check out our list at It’s updated frequently with exhibitors as they are confirmed. For a list of artists currently confirmed view our list at To mingle with our artists or check out what they are bringing to the Convention check out the Artist Alley section of our forums at The Artist Alley is currently full, but visit for more info and/or to apply for the waiting list. The Exhibit Hall is full too, but if you’re interested in more info and/or going on the Exhibitor waiting list, visit This year, the Exhibit Hall and Artist Alley are located in Hall F of the Convention Center.

So without further ado, here’s a little about the person who makes organizes the chaos that is the Exhibit Space!

Name: Phillip Ward-Schmidt

Department: I am the Exhibit Space Department Head. 

Staff for how long: I have been staffing ever since 2007

A little about yourself: I enjoy swimming, running, and various other forms of exercise, but I am also an active Gamer who enjoys FPS, RPGs, and Strategy Games.  If that wasn’t enough interests, I am of course an avid Anime Enthusiast who enjoys the genre, the Industry, and our attendees / members.  Not to mention that there is a fungus among us, because I’m a fungi!

What are some of your favorite anime related media?  I am a sucker a whole slew of series like Naruto, Bleach, FMA, Evangelion, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Magica Madoka, Howl’s Moving Castle, Wolf’s Rain, Fruits Basket, Ouran High School Host Club, .Hack/Sign, Black Lagoon, Mass Effect: Paragon Lost, Blood +, and my wife just told me to stop typing, so… come join us in the Exhibit Space.  ;)

Why did you join staff?  My first ACen experience involved my girlfriend at the time, my current wife, when she “asked” if I wanted to come join her and work for a weekend, unpaid, at an Anime Convention.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was an entire weekend away from the ordinary, so I accepted the “offer”.  From there my ambition took over and I soon became the Department Head for the Artist Alley & Art Show in 2009.  At which point, half way through the planning stages of 2009, I became the Department Head for the Exhibition Hall as well.  In late 2010 the two Departments merged into one, forming the Exhibit Space, which now stands as one of the most innovative and renown events in the Anime Convention community.

What tips do you have for attendees to enjoy ACen more?  Bring EXTRA SOCKS!  I can’t emphasis this enough.  One year I only brought one pair of socks per day, and was dodging the EMRT Staff because I still had work to do, but my feet had decided that they were no longer on board with that whole walking thing.  My legs were not aware of my feet’s declaration of independence, so they were walked into oblivion, thus after the event I had to bandage them up.  So bring EXTRA SOCKS!  You don’t know how good it feels to jump into a fresh pair of socks after a long walk, plus it ensures that your feet don’t get any ideas ;)

What were some of your favorite experiences in the Exhibit Hall or Artist’s Alley? Feel free to leave a comment!

Staying Healthy and Special Needs at the Convention

At Anime Central, we want all our attendees to have a good time. So it’s important to us that you have any health issues or special needs that you might have seen to! We have a well trained and experienced staff ready to help you!

Special Needs and ADA Assistance

Anime Central is proud to have one of the most extensive ADA Assistance programs of any convention anywhere! We seek to provide a quality experience for all our attendees. For any of our attendees with special needs, we help in any and every way possible! Ask Special Needs Services about accommodations if you…

…cannot stay in a line for extended periods.

…need a sign language interpreter.

…need to obtain a wheelchair or scooter.

…need assistance in getting to a certain area of the Convention.

…need a secluded space to nurse a child or escape packed and noisy crowds for a few minutes.

…have any other special needs not mentioned here.

Our experienced and caring staff will understand your needs, and will keep any personal information you may need to discuss in the strictest confidence. If you have any questions about special needs, visit, e-mail our Special Needs Department at, or visit the Special Needs Department at the Convention.

Additionally, if you see an attendee on crutches or in a wheelchair, trying to get on/off the elevator or go through a crowded area, help your fellow otaku by stepping back and letting them through! We can all do our part to make Anime Central a great Con for everyone!

Staying Healthy at the Convention

Avoid sore feet and Con Plague! The best way to stay healthy at the Convention is to be prepared and prevent things from happening!

Many colds and sicknesses travel through hand contact, so make sure to wash your hands early and often! You know where your hands have been; do you know where everyone else’s hands have been? Hand sanitizer is okay for emergencies in a pinch, but washing your hands thoroughly is always better!

In addition to washing your hands regularly, it’s important to shower too! Not only does bathing keep you socially acceptable; it washes off the dirt, grime, and the con funk of the day. Think of a time you didn’t feel better after a shower! There’s a reason why the tagline of the Convention is “Got Soap?”

Keeping your energy up is important as well! Make sure that you eat regularly, and that you eat balanced meals too! Otaku cannot survive on Pocky alone! Be sure to drink water and stay hydrated! Bring a water bottle with a lanyard and hang it off your belt. Avoid caffeinated drinks because they tend to make water go through you faster than water alone would! Additionally, caffeine is not a replacement for sleep! Make sure to get at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep each night!

There’s a lot of walking to be had between the hotel and Convention Center, and the Convention Center is big too! In addition to staying hydrated, make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes! Wear your cool (but ill-fitting) costume shoes for just the Masquerade, and wear your comfy shoes when just walking around the Convention casually. It’s harder to go see all the different things at the Convention if you’re having difficulty walking!

Emergency Medical Response Team (EMRT)

In a medical emergency at the Convention, Anime Central’s EMRT staff is on hand to help! If you are going through or are involved in a medical emergency while at the Convention, call EMRT! First of all: Don’t Panic! Help is always near at the Convention.

To request medical assistance, find the nearest Customer Service desk or staff member with a radio; they can radio for help from the nearest EMRT staff member. Let them know what’s happening and where. If you’re not involved in the medical emergency, or you see EMRT staff racing from one location to another, please remain clear and stay back to give EMRT staff to move and work through.

When in doubt, do not move an injured person, unless there are nearby hazards! You may unintentionally do more harm than good. EMRT staff will come to help where the emergency is. If you’re involved in the medical emergency, please stay on the scene until released by EMRT staff. They may need you to help answer any questions about what’s going on. EMRT staff will tend to the patient and make the call if an ambulance is needed. Last of all: Don’t Panic! You’re in good hands.

Non-Critical Issues

EMRT staff are more than happy to provide feminine hygiene products and ace bandages, but please understand that supplies are limited! If you anticipate that you may have those needs, make sure to bring those items with you! They’ll even help you properly wrap you ankle if you bring your own ace bandages as well.

Unfortunately, EMRT staff are not licensed to dispense any medication under any circumstance, so make sure have any important medication with you on hand, or be prepared to make a quick stop at a local pharmacy.

If you have any questions about emergency medical issues, visit the EMRT Department at the Convention.

What advice do you have to stay healthy at the Convention? What can we do to make it easier for everyone to get around the Convention? Feel free to leave a comment!

An Interview with ACen’s Department Head of Volunteers (Plus How to become a Gopher!)

Anime Central is a convention run by fans for fans! As such, we like show you the faces of those who volunteer their time to help run the Convention. This week’s post is an interview with our Department Head for Volunteers!

Speaking of volunteering, if you can’t spare time to work before the Convention, why not volunteer at the Convention? As an Anime Central Gopher, you go where departments need extra help. In exchange for your help, you’re eligible for free badge for next year’s Convention! It’s the perfect opportunity to try out various departments and maybe even find a department you want to join as a full staff member next year.

Some of the perks of volunteering at the Convention include:
- A full badge for yourself to next year’s Convention (2014 only, after 16 hours’ worth of work)!
- Access to the Gopher hotel room at the Convention, shared with other Gophers (each night you’re there, after 6 hours’ worth of work per day, but space is limited)!
- A small peek at the inner workings of Anime Central!
- A prize for the Gopher who works the most hours!

This year’s Gopher Prize is themed for our Sweet 16 in 2013! The Gopher Prize shows how our best Gopher is:

- A very sweet volunteer: a DVD of the complete series of Antique Bakery!

- A highly skilled volunteering ninja: a DVD of Ninja Nonsense!

- A lucky Red Shirt that survived volunteering: A Star Trek Red Shirt towel!

If you volunteer for setup before the Con opens (as early as Wednesday) and/or tear down after the Con closes (Sunday afternoon), those hours count for double! Keep in mind that we’re a non-profit volunteer organization and happy to help you meet any community service requirements you might have! For more information or to sign up, visit, under the “At-Con Volunteer” section, or stop by the Volunteer Headquarters during the Convention.

So without further ado, here’s a little about the person who rides herd on all our Gophers!

Name: Angel Sickels

Department: I’m the Department Head of Volunteering, in charge of organizing the volunteers (Gophers) who help work the weekend of the Con.

Staff/for how long: Gopher (‘02-’09), Assistant Department Head of Volunteers (‘09-’10), Department Head of Volunteers (’10-Present)

A little about yourself:  I love baking a lot, and I’ve had a good amount of experience making picture frames. I also sew pillows for fun. I like to feed duckies by the pond, and I like ice cream in the cold. I go to other nerdy conventions in the area like Capricon, WindyCon, and Duckon. I play computer games, and I’ve even skipped work just to play The Sims. I learned my lesson and will never do that again. I do not support nor do I recommend anyone to do this.

What are some of your favorite anime related media? My first true love on the Japanese front was, Megatokyo. Staying up night after night at all hours just to catch up from the very beginning, but ironically enough, I’ve very behind to this very day. Seraphim and Boo are my favorite Characters, so much so I have my very own Boo “talking” plushie and have considered on many occasions to have Seraphim done as a Tattoo. = )

I also love Domo-kun. In fact, it’s the unofficial mascot of the Volunteers Department!

I’ve also enjoyed Steel Angel Kuromi (but only the first season), Angel Beats, Kenichi, Fruits Basket, Legend of Dragoon on PS1, Stich 626 on PS2, and Red vs. Blue.

What was your first ACen experience? I have three first time experiences with ACen. My first time going to ACen,I had a horrible time. The worst part of the night was when one of the people I was staying with had a seizure. I handled the situation, but the fact I was alone during the rest of the weekend is what made me leave. I didn’t know anything about the Con, so I left early and I thought I’d never come back.

A few years after that, I met an ACen staffer and he convinced me to try the Convention again. He introduced me to the then Department Head of Volunteers who encouraged me to be a Gopher. So my first year as a Gopher, they had me helping Registration. While on shift, I went outside for a smoke break and when I tried to get back in, Rosemont Police wouldn’t let me in because I didn’t have a badge yet at the time. I had to have a staffer vouch for me to let me back in!

About 4 years ago, I finally joined Staff, and on my first year, they threw me in the deep end and made me Assistant Department Head of Volunteers. On top of that, the second year I was ADH for Volunteers, I was promoted to full Department Head. I must have done a good job because I’ve been DH ever since.

Why did you join staff? They needed help! I have a friend who’s been on staff since it started and she was a good influence. She taught me everything I know. Staff always needs help and we’re always looking for Gophers!

What tips do you have for attendees to enjoy ACen more? As much as it hurts to say, don’t volunteer your first time at ACen. Experience the Con your first year to see if you really enjoy it. When you come, don’t go alone. Make sure you have someone to hang out with and share the experience. You should also know your vocabulary. My first year at the Con, dealers were yelling words like “yaoi”, “yuri” and “otaku” and I had no idea what they meant. You don’t want be thrown into a Yaoi panel unless you specifically know what it is and if you are into that. If you don’t know what “glomp” means, make sure you ask someone that you trust who will tell you. Finally, stay hydrated! There’s a lot of walking between the hotel and the Convention Center. Bring lots of extra pairs of socks. Your feet will thank you.

What were your most interesting experiences with Gophers? Feel free to leave a comment!

Spotting Unlicensed and Bootleg Merchandise

Anime Central may be your only chance to meet that celebrity you love so much, so bring all the things you want autographed with you, but be warned! One of the quickest ways to insult a celebrity is by asking them to autograph unlicensed or bootleg merchandise!

In addition, buying unlicensed or bootleg merchandise hurts the Anime industry by not allowing the payout the creators work for. If a bootlegger makes or sells an unlicensed item, all or most of the profits go to the bootlegger and none to the creator! If the creator isn’t getting paid for their hard work, they can’t create any more of your favorite anime.

Bootlegs also saturate the market with (often low quality) merchandise. If you are lucky, you may be undercharged for a bootleg item, but many times, you’re overcharged for a bootleg item that has no quality control behind it, and may end up being worthless in the end.

But how can you tell whether or not something is the real deal or a total fake?

When bringing something to a guest to autograph and they politely decline to sign it because it’s bootleg, don’t be too dismayed! Most guests have pictures or official merchandise available (sometimes for free, sometimes to purchase) that you can get autographed. Merchandise bought directly from the guest is a sure way to get legitimate merchandise (plus you’re buttering up the guest by putting money back in their wallet!)

When it comes to individual vendors, shopping online, or at a kawaii/collectible store, be weary of vendors who insist you do not touch or examine the merchandise. They may want you to buy the merchandise without realizing that it’s bootleg. You should always get a chance to determine the authenticity of a new item you buy.

Do your research! Ways to identify merchandise are always changing. Manufacturers change their particular labeling and marking techniques to make it harder for bootleggers to make “genuine-looking” merchandise. In addition, being intimately familiar with a series makes you a quasi-expert in that series, making it easier to spot discrepancies in bootlegged merchandise. Bootleggers will often get details about a particular series wrong because they care more about moving product than they worry about the quality of the product. There are also companies out there known for not respecting copyrights and making bootleg merchandise.

Bootleg DVDs often have incorrect details on the box. The descriptions of the story may be wrong, information on the actors is incorrect, copyright info may even be missing. Any series is usually printed with 4 episodes per disc to make sure the video quality is high. If a series is packed with more than 4 episodes per disc, not only is it most likely a bootleg, the video quality is most likely low as to cram as many episodes per disc.

New plush toys have tush tags and swing tags. Tush tags are a fabric label sewn into the seam of a plush that contain info about the company that made them. Every new plush from Japan should have a tush tag. Swing tags provide consumers with safety info, so not attaching them is a liability to a company. All new plush, imported and domestic, will come with a swing tag. Bootleg plush will often have missing or incorrect info on tush and swing tags. Depending on when a plush was made, the tags will contain particular info, so always do your research!

Many collectibles and plastic toys have limited runs, and usually come with a paper insert showing the entire set that item is from. Bootlegs are often of an inferior quality because they are often molded from a copy of an item instead of being molded from an original metal mold.

Some franchises don’t even license out their properties for certain items. Disney and Square Enix have not licensed any swords or keyblades from any of their video games, so any of those items you see for sale are bootleg. Bill Waterson of Calvin and Hobbes was known for not licensing out his property except in very rare and small numbers. Just about all Calvin and Hobbes merchandise is bootleg.

We pride ourselves on making sure all merchandise sold in our Exhibit Hall is official and fully licensed. We don’t allow any of our vendors to sell any bootleg or unlicensed merchandise. If you think you spot a vendor selling bootleg merchandise, get in touch with one of our Exhibit Hall staff and we’ll look into it, or contact them at  Let us know where you saw the vendor, and what item(s) might be bootleg. All tips will be anonymous, so you have nothing to fear in coming forward.

Otaku News has an excellent in-depth article on spotting bootlegs at, last updated November of 2012. They even have a handy 2 page guide for spotting bootlegs that you can print out and bring with you. Get it at

What experiences have you had with bootleg merchandise? Feel free to leave a comment!

An Interview with ACen’s Chief of Staff (Plus How To Join ACen Staff!)

Anime Central is a convention run by fans for fans! As such, we like show you the faces of those who volunteer their time to help run the Convention. This week’s post is an interview with our Chief of Staff!

Speaking of staff, ever wonder what goes into making the Convention happen? Ever wanted to be a part of that? ACen Staffers past and present can hold their heads up proudly, knowing they had a hand in creating the awesome event that is Anime Central. Staffing ACen can entail attending planning meetings weeks before Convention and running things the weekend of the Convention, but it’s not all work! We wouldn’t be working the Convention if we couldn’t enjoy it!

In addition to the responsibility of working to make ACen great, you get a full Staff badge to the Convention, a Staff hotel room shared with other Staffers at the Convention (numbers are limited), and invites to year-round events! We have a staff Christmas party, a Summer Matsuri picnic, and other events throughout the year to get us together, keeping us working as a team! You don’t just see your fellow staffers once a year! It’s a great way to keep in touch with new friends!

There are openings in multiple departments such as Panel Programming, Registration, and Customer Service. For more information on our individual departments, go to For more information on requirements and to apply for Staff, visit, under the “Staff Requirements” section, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible on what you can do to help ACen!

So without further ado, here’s a little about the person who herds all the cats that make ACen happen!

Name: Rosa Halcomb

A little about yourself: Hmm. I’m a big nerd who sews, reads tarot cards, collects manga and antique cameos? Not that much to tell. I grew up in Kentucky, and I still live there, and I drive up to Chicago for ACen meetings and planning things. I travel a lot for work, so the driving is no big deal, and I love the people involved in the Con– they make it all worth it! What else? I’m in my 30s. I have a cat, and I garden in my allegedly spare time. My day job is as a business analyst for a cable company – basically I write business rules and process materials for the engineering and support teams. I geek for fun and I geek for a living. It’s a happy life!

What are some of your favorite anime related media? I grew up watching Bubblegum Crisis and Tenchi Muyo. I’m a big fan of horror anime like Higurashi or Hellsing, and I like things with a good story. Really, I will watch or listen to pretty much anything given the chance, and am currently working my way through Madoka and Sword Art Online. I also was a huge fan of Initial D, because I adore the music. MOVE is one of my favorite bands. X Japan is another. I mentioned that, right? I don’t need to jump up and shout “We Are X” to get the point across.

Staff for how long: 10 fabulous years and more to come. I started as Art Show staff, and then ran Artist’s Alley for a couple years. I was the Convention Secretary, the Chief of Staff, the Vice Chair, and then the Conchair. Now I’ve retired from Conchair and gone back to being Chief of Staff, and I really love it!

What was your first/best ACen experience? In 1999 I was just learning about this anime stuff, and the guy I was dating wanted to road trip to Chicago to this con he heard about from an artist friend of ours. That weekend I discovered ACen. I stood in line to get Kenichi Sonoda’s autograph, and the fire alarm was pulled during the signing, so he just lined us all up like ducklings and led the way outside, and finished the signing in the hotel’s outdoor space. That really taught me my first and most important lesson about conventions: you have to learn to roll with the crazy moments, and not sweat the small stuff too much. My secret favorite moment of the Con is to slip backstage just before the rave starts up, or just before a big event like a concert is going to happen. I wait for the moment the lights hit, and the crowd makes that amazing rolling roar of sound that’s so full of excited anticipation. It just makes me want to jump up and down and cheer. I love knowing that people have a great time, it’s very energizing.

Now and then I get to meet someone who joins us as staff or as a guest who really touches my heart. Hideko Tamura Snider was one such person. She was ten years old when her home in Hiroshima was destroyed by an atomic bomb, and her thoughtful eloquence and inspired writing are amazing. She wrote a book called One Sunny Day about her memories of the bombing, what came before, and what has happened since. Meeting her and talking for a while about the book made me really rethink a lot of things about my own way of living. She is just a truly inspiring lady, and I admire her very much. Read the book if you have the chance.

Why did you join staff? I was always hanging out in the Artist Alley bothering friends and looking at the pretty original stuff. Eventually, I asked if I could help, and the next year I was volunteering full time for the Con. I met all these amazing, fun, dedicated people who had the gift of grace under pressure, and this adventuresome spirit I really admired. I never left.

What tips do you have for attendees to enjoy ACen more? The community is what matters most. Remember we’re all fans of this genre that is as diverse and wide-ranging as the fans who love it, and every one of those fans deserves respect. There’s enough bullying and rudeness in the world, ACen is our place to be with people who like the things we like. Whether they’re into Naruto, or DBZ, or One Piece, or Panty & Stocking, or something obscure that’s just coming out, when we subdivide and make fun of other fans, we’re acting exactly counter to the reason we all get together. Be kind to your fellow Otaku! And Get Soap, okay?

Also: Volunteer! We love to have bunches of new folks on the team, because they bring new perspectives and ideas. Plus, there’s lots of good in it for you, as well! Not only can you earn back your badge, you’ll also meet some amazing people. Plus, you get great experience that can help you with experience for your resume, references for your work, and great answers to tough questions like, “How to you react to high pressure situations?” I’m proud to be a professional reference for lots of folks on the team, and if you do a good job I have no qualms about telling a prospective employer that.

Have you ever met an ACen Staffer who went above an beyond at con and just made your experience that much better? Tell us about it in the comments!

The M.A.P.S. Scholarships

Have you painstakingly learned Japanese, with all its formal and informal subtleties, just to watch Anime undubbed and unsubbed? Have you poured over cultural books and websites trying to understand jokes and puns that only a native of Japan would get? Have you spent long hours drawing your favorite Anime characters, or even your own Anime inspired creations? Did you ever think that your love of Anime could ever get you anywhere? For all the devotion that you’ve put into Anime, why not use your love of Anime to earn something?

Each year the organizing body of Anime Central, the Midwest Animation Promotion Society (M.A.P.S.) awards three $1,000.00 scholarships for full-time college students majoring in the following subjects:

- The Rider Scholarship for Japanese Language and Literature

- The M.A.P.S. Scholarship for History and Culture

- The M.A.P.S. Scholarship for Illustration and Animation

The selection process for each scholarship candidate goes through very careful and thorough consideration. Applications for these scholarships are evaluated based upon the following criteria:

- Academic Achievement: the candidate must demonstrate exceptional academic ability by submitting an official transcript and GPA (or its equivalent) for all course work to date.

- Essay: In no more than three type-written, double-spaced page, the candidate must describe why s/he should be the recipient of the MAPS Scholarship. In the case of the Illustration and Animation Scholarship, the candidate must send in a one page typewritten double-spaced page and a digital portfolio. Each specific application will further detail each entry’s rules.

- Faculty Recommendation: the candidate must provide one letter of recommendation from a faculty member familiar with his/her work.

- Application: the required application must be completed and turned in by July 1st, 2013 to be considered for the current year MAPS Scholarships.

If you’re a full-time college student (or will be soon) majoring in the relevant subjects, why not apply? To apply for the Rider and MAPS Scholarships, or for more information, visit Each Scholarship has a different application, so be sure to check the requirements carefully. What will (or would, if you were eligible) you do in order to earn the Scholarship? Feel free to leave a comment!

Anime Central is a convention run by fans for fans! As such, we like show you the faces of those who volunteer their time to help run the Convention. This week’s post is an interview with our Department Head for Registration!

And speaking of registration, you should pre-register for the Convention now! The tier 3 rate of $53.00 is available until April 1st, after that it’s $60.00 to register. Pre-register at Skip the Registration line and choose Badge Mailing for only $2.00 extra! The option to have your badge mailed ends April 1st as well. If you already pre-registered opting to pick up your badge at will-call, but would like to upgrade that to a mailed badge, email our Registration team at and they will be more than happy to help you out. Go to for more information on tier deadline, rates, and policies. And just so you know, badges go out after April 1st, so please be patient!

So without further ado, here’s a little about the person who makes your badges happen!

Name: Melinda Hayden

Department: I am the current Department Head for Registration where we process the registrations and badges for all of our attendees.

Staff for how long: Fall 2008-Present; all in Registration

A little about yourself: Chapter One … There was once this girl who – well, no idea where I am going there; but it was a place to start typing. If I had to say one thing about me, it’s that I am eclectic. I have two cats who I named after the main characters after one of my favorite books, and I currently work in my local library; I collect the footed McCoy flower pots from the 1940’s, and random silverplate from the 20’s; after spending time at the Art Institute for college, I do a mean doodle; and even though I think that I am much more of a tom-boy, I <3 my pink laptop.

What are some of your favorite anime related media? There are too many anime to list, but the ones that I find myself watching over again are Ouran High School Host Club and Fruits Basket among a couple others. My all-time favorite Studio Ghibli movie is Spirited Away, followed closely by Howl’s Moving Castle.

Why did you join staff? Funny story there; my first ACen was the year Registration became infamous. It was my first date with the man I later married, and we had decided to attend ACen for the day. That morning I woke up with a 101+ fever and my head swimming. Instead of canceling, I decided to take a couple of cold meds and go anyways; not the smartest idea in retrospect, but cest la vie. We arrived around 11AM on Saturday to a sea of people in line already. Hour one went by as we did the normal chit-chat, getting to know you that you do on first dates. Hour two came and went and I started paying more attention to the registration staff running to-and-fro and what-all was going on around me than I was talking to him. Hour three hit as we inched closer and closer to the front of the line and all I could think of by then, was I was going to look into volunteering myself. XD

Needless to say, I applied and was hired that fall; spent 2009 as General Staff, promoted to ADH for 2010-2011, and took over the department for 2012-present.

What tips do you have for attendees to enjoy ACen more? Wear comfortable shoes; there is a LOT of ground to cover between events going on in the Hyatt, the Convention Center, and various other locations. That being said, EMRT will be more than happy to give you first aid for blisters if needed.

Bonus Stuff: Discounts to get into the Convention

Are you a little short on funds and might not have quite enough to make it to the Convention this year? We wouldn’t want you to miss the Convention just because you’re strapped for cash! Here are some ways that might help you lighten your financial burdens enough to get you to the Convention!

Are you going to pre-register online to get your badge before April 1stDid you miss the whole opening paragraph to this post? The tier 3 rate of $53.00 ends April 1st, after that it’s $60.00 to register! Pre-register at

Do you have a group of 10 or more friends who want to go to Anime Central? Did you know that if you all register online at the same time, we’ll give you a group discount? If you register 10 to 19 badges, we’ll give you $2.00 off each badge; if you register 20 or more badges, we’ll give you $5.00 off each badge! Pre-register and get a group discount online at Group registration is not available at the convention.

Are you an educator looking to enrich your students with the knowledge of Japanese Pop Culture? Why not bring your class to Anime Central? What better way to expose them to discussions, panels, and media from Japan? Email us for more information at

Are you Police Officer, Fire Fighter and/or currently serving in the United States Military? To show our thanks to all Airmen, Sailors, Marines, Soldiers, Guardsmen, Police Officers, and Fire Fighters for their service, we want to give back to those that help serve, protect, and help make our country a better place. You can get our First Responder/Military Discount of 50% off your badge by showing us a current valid government ID when you register for your badge at the door.  Domo arigato gozaimasu for your service!

Do you run a convention that’s related to anime, manga, or Japanese culture?  If you want to promote another convention or event that you represent, why not get a convention trade table? If you are interested in applying for a convention trade table, visit Apply quickly because space in the Convention Table row are given on a first come first serve basis and space is limited!

Can’t come to the Convention because you have to watch the kids? Is your child obsessed with the newest hit anime on TV, a budding otaku in the making? Well, why not bring them with to the Convention? Sunday is Children’s Day at Anime Central! Children aged 12 and under get in for free with the purchase of any adult badge! We’ll also have games, panels, and events just for younger fans, to ready them to be the future of Otakudom!

Are you going to another convention where the Anime Central Road Show will be? The ACen Road Show makes appearances at other conventions, where you can purchase badges at a special (low!) rate. We run games and contests, recruit staff, answer questions, and have a great time doing our very best to get the word out about our show. The Road Show pre-registration rate is $38.00, whenever we appear—that’s the best rate you’ll find anywhere, lower than the earliest early-bird price. The Road show rate will only be given to attendees registered at the convention or event we are at, the Road show rate is in appreciation for showing support to other conventions. For our Road Show appearance schedule, visit

Want a cheap badge to next year’s Convention? The sooner you pre-register for your Anime Central 2014 badge, the cheaper it is! If you register for next year’s Convention, we’ll give it to you at our ACen Road Show price of $38.00! You can visit any of our Registration Booths in the Convention Center for details on getting registered before you leave.

Want a *free* badge to next year’s Convention? We’re always looking for people to volunteer at the Convention as Anime Central Gophers, going where departments need extra help. If you work enough hours you could earn a free badge for next year’s convention. For more information or to sign up, go to under the “At-Con Volunteer” section, or stop by the Volunteer Headquarters during the Convention.

What are your best experiences with getting a badge for Con? Feel free to leave a comment!

Travel to and Parking at the Convention

“How am I going to get to ACen this year?” Well, that all depends. Before we answer that, let’s answer a few other questions first.

How long am I staying at the Convention?”  ACen is a 3 day convention with things going on whole 72 hours that the Convention is there: late night viewings, first time premiers, and dances lasting until the wee hours of the morning. If you’re coming during normal daylight hours, you can still enjoy most of the viewings, panels, and the exhibit hall, but there’s lots of afterhours fun to be had too! If you plan on staying late, or more than one day, you might want to think about getting a hotel room.

Where am I going to sleep?” ACen is based out of the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and is the best hotel to stay at to keep central to the con. But rooms tend to sell out fast, and even then, unless you have a few friends to split a room with, you might need more economical solution. There are many other hotels in the area; some even have ACen programming space in them as well. Some are within walking distance; some are a short drive away.

Directly connected to the Convention Center via a sky bridge network:

- The Aloft Chicago O’Hare

- The Double Tree O’Hare

- The Hilton Rosemont Chicago O’Hare, (where both Video and Board Gaming will be located)

- The Hyatt Regency O’Hare (the main hotel for the Convention)

You can walk from those locations and two parking garages with a roof always overhead!

Located next to the Convention Center:

- The Crowne Plaza Chicago O’Hare

- The Embassy Suites Hotel O’Hare-Rosemont

Located a short walk from the Convention Center:

- The Chicago Marriot Suites O’Hare

- The Intercontinental Chicago O’Hare

- The Westin O’Hare

Located a bit of a walk (or a short drive) from the Convention Center:

- The Courtyard Chicago O’Hare

- The Hilton Garden Inn Chicago O’Hare

- The Hyatt Rosemont

- The Motel 6 Chicago O’Hare Schiller Park

- The Radisson Des Plaines

Maybe bring a bike, skateboard, or roller-skates? Many area hotels may have a shuttle service to and from the Convention Center and O’Hare Airport. Be sure to ask at the front desk!

If you are driving to the Convention, this leads us back to the main part of our first question.

How am I going to get to the Convention?” If you are driving to the con, you’ll need a place to park your car! The Rosemont Public Parking Garage is across the street from the Convention Center, where you can park for $13.00 for 24 hours. It accommodates both the Convention Center and some of the local hotels, some of which may have different pricing if you are staying at one of the hotel (results may vary, be sure to ask the front desk). The parking garage has over 8,000 parking spaces and is the closest parking to the Convention Center. There’s also an inexpensive paid parking lot with about 800 spaces at the Rosemont “L” stop, which is a short walk from the Convention Center. You can park there for $5.00 for 0-14 hours, $8.00 for 14-18 hours, or $12.00 for 18-24 hours.

If you happen to be local to the Chicagoland area, or are flying in from O’Hare or Midway Airport, go green and take public transportation! The Rosemont Blue Line “L” train stop is a short walk from the Convention Center, and goes to and from many parts of Chicago as well as both airports. The Blue Line runs about every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day, but some of the other lines stop service at night. Be sure to double check their schedule and rates at the CTA’s website: You can find more info about the Park and Ride rates for the Rosemont “L” stop parking lot as well.

For those in the Chicagoland suburbs, you can also take the Metra! The Rosemont stop on the NCS Line is a short walk from the Convention Center, but only runs Monday through Friday. Be sure to double check their schedule and rates at Metra’s website:

There are also hotels located near “L” stops one stop away from the Rosemont stop. Located a short walk from an “L” stop:

- The Chicago Marriot O’Hare

- The Chicago O’Hare Garden Hotel

- The Holiday Inn Chicago O’Hare

- The Renaissance Chicago O’Hare Suites

- The Spring Hill Suites Chicago O’Hare (all the above near the Cumberland stop)

- The Hilton Chicago O’Hare Airport (in O’Hare Airport, at the O’Hare stop)

Again, many area hotels may have a shuttle service to and from the Convention Center and O’Hare Airport. You may not even have to take the “L”! Be sure to ask at the front desk!

We hope you safe travels to and from this year’s Anime Central and we look forward to seeing you! How are you getting to the con this year? Feel free to leave a comment!

- Edit 03/10/13: For more info about the Rooms in Anime Central Hotel Block, visit

The New and Improved Anime Central Blog! Now with Dramatic Backstory!

Welcome to the new and improved Anime Central Blog! We’re back, up and running again to bring you the latest scoop on ACen, along with tips to improve your con experience. But ACen isn’t about just anime. We’ll give you the skinny about a multitude of cultural events, industry inside info, artist tips and tricks, along with a whole bunch of other fun facts!

But where do we begin, perhaps at the start? How about a little on the humble beginnings of our con?

In April 1996, the Midwest Animation Promotion Society (MAPS) incorporated as a 501(c)(3) Educational Non Profit Organization. CHAOS (CHicagoland Animation Observation Society) was the founding club for Anime Central.  Maria Rider (Munoz), Scott Rider, Ryan Gavigan, Jeff Williamson, Aaron McLin, Lorraine McLees (Reyes), Ben Nunez, James Sebastian, and Roderick Lee were the founding 9 members.  The Animatrix Network Fan Club, run by Michael Palmaira, also brought in a slew of volunteers for staff. To this day, Anime Central is still run by volunteers (unpaid!) who are anime fans like you!

After two years of intense planning, we held the first Anime Central in 1998, from April 3rd to the 5th at the Holiday Inn International O’Hare hotel in Rosemont, Illinois. Guests that weekend were Juliet Cesario, Robert DeJesus, Jason Gray-Stanford, Fumio Iida, Tsukasa Kotobuki, Trish Ledoux, Steve Pearl, Jan Scott-Frazier, Scott Simpson, Kenichi Sonoda, Amanda Winn Lee, and Toshifumi Yoshida. On that weekend, we had 1203 of our best friends attending the convention.

It’s hard to imagine that in 15 short years, we’ve gone from 1200 attendees in 1998 to over 24,000 attendees in 2012. Here’s hoping for 15 and more years after!

How long have you been going to ACen? What was your first ACen experience like? Feel free to leave a comment!

Look back here every Wednesday for new posts about ACen! And don’t forget to mark it on your calendars! ACen 2013 is from May 17th to the 19th, at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois!

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