3. Autograph Sessions - Don't make rules if you aren't going to follow them! The GR staff members working the first autograph session really frustrated me and broke their own rules. They punished those who followed the rules and rewarded those who broke them. They let people in prior to the one hour mark and I think it was more than an just a few minutes before because someone behind me said they stopped by around 11:10am I think (11:30 was the one hour mark) and there was no line. I was so mad about that because I followed the rules and got there about one hour prior to the autograph session and they were saying it was full. I don't care if people are forming a line. Tell them to go away and come back at the right time. They started doing that AFTER the fiasco. I was fortunate to stand my ground and wait because I ended up getting the autographs, but it was still very frustrating. And before you ask me why I ended up going on Sunday for the autographs, it's because ACen didn't have any of the paper sheets with the autograph sessions. I don't get why they weren't in the program guide. I'm not going to go to information booths if I don't have to.
Another thing about the autograph sessions is, don't have them in that little space behind the dealers. It was so hard to find because there were basically no signs and it created a lot of blockage because it was in between two booths. I asked where it was at the information booth and the staff member pointed in the direction and told me by a giant Magic the Gathering sign. There was no giant Magic the Gathering sign! Those were the worst directions ever! There wasn't a giant Magic the Gathering sign. There was a sign that had titles of a bunch of different card games, but it wasn't a giant Magic the Gathering sign. Please have autographs somewhere else!
THIS!! This, this, this! I adore coming to ACen, I always considered it my home-away-from-home. This is my 8th consecutive year coming to the convention and it just feels like, starting three or four years ago, the whole organization thing is coming unraveled with each progressing year.
Our group showed up for the 12:30 autograph session today (Sunday) at about 11:25 AM. There were roughly 6 to 7 people standing in line ahead of us and I could already tell the location was all wrong. Why on earth wasn't a space blocked and roped off like there had been just a few years ago? It was out of the way, each guest had his/her own table, and lines did not have to just get cut off simply because there was no more space. The ACen staffer responsible for allowing attendees into the line not only let people in early, but *lied* about the time she let them in. She changed it three times within her 5 minutes of explaining why she had to cut the line off. I can understand the need to put a cap on the line, but they counted 80 people. 80! We were told to leave and try to come back later and *maybe* we would be able to get in for an autograph. IRT was called as well, and while none of us were particularly upset with the two very calm IRT guys trying to subdue an ever-growing (and irate) crowd of disappointed fans, I was personally upset at the lack of organization for autographs. What really got me was that we had arrived to form a line at the time told: One hour before an event is scheduled to begin, including autograph sessions. This group of people clearly had arrived far too early and, instead of being told to kill some time and come back when they were *supposed to*, they got to go in ahead of those of us who actually followed the rules ACen had made.
I know that there are plenty of fans and that some of these guests are extremely popular, but honestly I find it more than unfair that attendees who did not follow the rules were rewarded while those of us who did basically got snubbed and turned away. In my near-decade of attending this convention this is really the biggest disappointment I've had and felt the need to *really* complain about. I do not mean to sound harsh or whiny, but it really upset me and plenty of other people who had their hearts set on getting in. My suggestion is to rearrange the layout of the Exhibit Hall and return to roping off areas that are set *away* from booths/vendors/tables so that there is not a space issue and the lines can be clearly defined. I also stress that con staff should follow their own rules- it is really off-putting when they seem to lack the backbone to tell people that they need to return at the appointed time instead of allowing attendees to somehow finagle their way around erected rules and end up disappointing others who made an effort to stick to them.