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Advice For Convention Happiness Info and Advice to have fun at Acen

#1 User is offline   JediNight 

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:18 AM

Here are some of my unofficial tips for people looking to have a great weekend at Acen :) Or any con for that matter. (To re-iterate, these are just some of my personal musings, and not official Acen correspondence.)

It should be self-explanatory, but check out some of the stickied threads about preparing for the convention. A lot of people have great advice on what to pack, how to prepare, etc.
I know that every year people have trouble finding cosplay photoshoot locations -- the Acen Survival Map is a great place to look for info on photoshoots, food, etc. I believe it's still being updated: http://bit.ly/survivalmap
The nice people over at the Cosplay sub-forum also have a stickied thread that provides pictures of many of the locations you will see at the convention: http://www.acen.org/...-stuff-to-know/

QR Codes:
Acen will be featuring QR Codes on many of the signs, in the program book, etc. this year.
This may be redundant for some people, but for those unaware, QR Codes are those weird square blocks you see in a lot of locations these days. Using an app on your smartphone, you can scan them and it will link you to things like websites, email addresses, etc.
There are many QR Code Readers available for both Android and iPhone. Scan is a well-recommended reader for iPhone. QR Droid is one of the better ones for Android.
You just launch the app, point your camera at the QR Code, and it should get the relevant information for you.

Acen Guidebook App:
Acen will have a Guidebook app this year to make navigating and planning your Acen experience far easier. It features things like schedules, maps, feedback links for events, etc. I haven't gotten a firsthand look at it yet, but if you have a smartphone, you definitely want to be using this during the convention weekend if you can.

General Advice For a Fun Weekend:
I've been attending conventions since 1999, both as an attendee and as staff, so I've seen both sides of the coin for convention experience.

The most important thing: PATIENCE

No matter how much planning goes into an event, problems are always going to arise that were either unforeseen or out of anyones control. Staff here are Attendees at other cons -- they want you to have a good time, they're not there to give you a hard time and ruin your weekend. So please be patient with both staff (and attendees!) when attending cons. I know sometimes people get the impression that sometimes they're being rude, or pushy, or whatever -- the vast majority of the time it's just pressure and stress and not personal. They may be running on low sleep, at the end of a long shift, etc. whatever.

Some of our staff have literally put in HUNDREDS of hours of work during the year to bring you the convention for the weekend -- they want you to have fun. Heck, THEY want to have fun :) So patience is key.
What may seem like insignificant requests or them just being hard on you can often be regulations we have to follow. Things like Fire Code violations, requests from the hotel, union rules related to equipment or furniture, etc. can all impact things. Acen has to follow all the laws and rules or you might not be able to have fun at Acen every year ;)

A special note about goofing around:
I know everyone wants to kick back and let loose when going on vacation, to a convention, with friends, etc. But something to keep in mind if you are horsing around or doing something you know you probably shouldn't be doing (especially if you get yelled at for it):

Acen draws over 25,000 people for the weekend. It may be "no big deal" to you if you get talked to for doing something wrong one time, but you may be the 100th person that staffer has had to tell not to do that thing that weekend. It's nothing personal -- but keep that in mind that you aren't the only person at the convention. (Patience!) Imagine if only 1% of attendees were doing something wrong: That would still be 250 people across the convention being talked to etc. There are a lot of people around, it can get very hectic, and that can add to the craziness :)


tl;dr for Advice section:
Be patient and don't take things personally when staff make requests of you. Remember there are 25,000 other people around you.

I hope this info was helpful to some people. Feel free to reply with any comments or things you think may be good additions to the post. And again, this is unofficial and just my personal musings on an Anime/Manga fan going to cons for over 10 years :)

#2 User is offline   DioxideIL 

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 07:05 AM

This is a great post. Patience is certainly vital in any public setting, especially in a building with 25,000 other people. I also wish to thank you for the information regarding the Guidebook app! That should make things loads easier. Thanks for taking the time to post all of the info that you did.
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#3 User is offline   myrla 

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 07:07 AM

Google Goggles is another great app for QR codes. I've been using it for over a year with no complaints. :)

1. Eat. Yes, that awesome drawing of Vash is totally worth the money, but how can you see it hanging in your room if you're in the hospital because you blacked out because you spent all your food money on it?

Eating is important. GOOD eating is better. To be honest, the food inside the con room isn't half bad. It's certainly better than McDonald's. Everything is overpriced at con, no matter what it is. Bring snacks (real snacks - beef jerky, fruit, etc, not just candy and chips and soda), stay hydrated. Tempers flare when people are angry/hungry, and that causes problems.

2. Drinking and sleep. Yes, parties sound fun, and WOOOOOOO DRINKING. Guess what? I'm 31. I never drank in public before I was 21. I survived just fine. I've never gotten so wasted at a con that Med/IRT had to be called on me. I've had an AMAZING time EVERY con I've went to.

Guess what? Even though I am of age to drink this year, I won't be. I have medical problems that won't let me. And I'm still going to have a great time, and remember it all. I didn't drink last year, come to think of it, and I had an absolute blast!

If you're underage, don't drink. If you get caught, it's your own fault, and remember, it's illegal. Just because you're at ACen doesn't mean you shouldn't follow the law. If you are doing something and get arrested, or a warning, etc, THE COPS AND IRT ARE DOING THEIR JOBS. THEY ARE NOT PERSECUTING YOU BECAUSE YOU ARE ______. YOU ARE BREAKING THE LAW. THERE ARE CONSEQUENCES FOR BREAKING THE LAW.

Regarding sleep: You need it. Your body always needs it. The less sleep you get, the more cranky you are. See #1 regarding the cranky. If you're tired, moaning, exhausted, you can't appreciate con.

3. Basic human hygiene. No, Axe body spray is not a good substitute for a shower. (many of us are allergic to that swill anyway). Take. A. Shower. Even one shower on Saturday before you head to con will be a welcome thing. I would take one every day, but for some reason people seem to pack into a room and forget the shower exists.

4. Be respectful. Everyone is at ACen to enjoy themselves, have fun, and meet new people. Don't be a manpart.
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There are a lot more, but these are 4 of the big ones for me.
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#4 User is offline   rondo 

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 07:23 AM

View PostJediNight, on 09 April 2012 - 12:18 AM, said:

The most important thing: PATIENCE


The keyword.

Hit the ATMs early. Know where your bathrooms are. Soap. Stay on the sidewalk when possible.

This post has been edited by rondo: 09 April 2012 - 07:25 AM


#5 User is offline   TheStrongJaeger 

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 09:07 AM

View PostJediNight, on 09 April 2012 - 12:18 AM, said:

Acen Guidebook App:
Acen will have a Guidebook app this year to make navigating and planning your Acen experience far easier. It features things like schedules, maps, feedback links for events, etc. I haven't gotten a firsthand look at it yet, but if you have a smartphone, you definitely want to be using this during the convention weekend if you can.


Any word on when this will be available for download?
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#6 User is offline   myrla 

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 09:31 AM

View PostTheStrongJaeger, on 09 April 2012 - 09:07 AM, said:

Any word on when this will be available for download?


Or if it is for both Android and iPhone...
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Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:22 AM

That app sounds great. I've always been a little disappointed that there was no app for Acen before. I second the ATM thing, the line was INSANE last year. I had to wait forever just to get some cash out. Some vendors don't take credit cards after all.
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Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:24 AM

These are all great tips to enjoying the con. I would add the following two (being an avid congoer and volunteer for years):

1. Budget accordingly. Everyone's living expenses has grown in the last few years and, I don't know about you, but I need a car to drive and a house to live in. Try to set aside a reasonable amount for food and shinys, and then be FIRM about not overspending. Or set aside an emergency $20 in your glovebox or the bottom of your suitcase for an emergency (emergency meeans food or gas/transportation, not manga)

2. Attend something you normally wouldn't. Didn't have time last year? Kind of shy about a subject? You're at an anime con---leave your shyness in the hotel room! Check out a new topic/show/game/function. I can't tell you how many of the best memories I've had at cons resulted in something I checked out that, hours before, I said "meh".
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#9 User is offline   JediNight 

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:27 PM

You can check out the Guidebook website, but I believe it's available for Android, iOS, and has a web version. As I said, I haven't had a chance to take a look at it yet, but I'm sure it will be available before the con.

EDIT: Checked their website, and seems like they don't have a general web version. I remember at some point last year they said they were working on one. I guess those plans were either scrapped or aren't finished yet. Then again, you can find maps and the schedules on our website.

This post has been edited by JediNight: 09 April 2012 - 03:44 PM


#10 User is offline   Voltaire30 

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:44 PM

View PostJediNight, on 09 April 2012 - 12:27 PM, said:

You can check out the Guidebook website, but I believe it's available for Android, iOS, and has a web version. As I said, I haven't had a chance to take a look at it yet, but I'm sure it will be available before the con.


It has not been released yet, but I am sure it will be announced when it has been released.
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#11 User is offline   TheStrongJaeger 

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 12:53 PM

Oh, I didn't realize Guidebook was a generic app. I was looking for an Anime Central specific one. ^_^;;
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Posted 09 April 2012 - 01:00 PM

View PostTheStrongJaeger, on 09 April 2012 - 12:53 PM, said:

Oh, I didn't realize Guidebook was a generic app. I was looking for an Anime Central specific one. ^_^;;


I believe that's the company that makes the app. Once it's ready it will be Acen-specific, and will have our information (schedules, maps, etc.)
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Posted 09 April 2012 - 01:21 PM

Now if they'd so apps for my Java phone...
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Posted 09 April 2012 - 01:54 PM

ACen Guidebook sounds sweet! Thank you ACen for doing this.

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#15 User is offline   JediNight 

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 03:50 PM

View PostTheStrongJaeger, on 09 April 2012 - 12:53 PM, said:

Oh, I didn't realize Guidebook was a generic app. I was looking for an Anime Central specific one. ^_^;;


http://www.guidebook.com/

They have versions for Android, iOS, Blackberry, and WP7. The app itself is generic, but then it has a download guides option that lets you download specific ones. You won't find it listed for download yet as we're still testing the data in it, but of course it will go public before the convention at some point.

I briefly went through it, and some of the nice features for Guidebook also include being able to add them to a personal schedule, as well as a built-in to-do list that you can add notes to and check off, etc.

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 06:25 PM

A few additional things to keep in mind along with the great ones put up already.

1. Don't Run, Walk! I know for some it seems silly to keep this in mind but it's rather important. This is a large convention with a lot of people, saftey first. Running around hyper could lead to some serious accidents. You could run into someone, make them fall and hurt themself, or run into something and hurt yourself. Better not to chance it and walk around, it may be slower but you'll still get there.

2. Map out what you want to see and then list them from 1 (most important to check out) to 5 (least important) and then check the times, this way you can make sure to see all your 1s and the ones you might not want to check out, if you miss them well then it's okay.

3. Take a spin around Rosemont and look for family run resturants. Unlike the ones near by, family run are usually quieter and less busy and they don't charge that much.

4. Take a watch with you to keep an eye on the time. Cellphones are great but it's a good idea to have an extra time peice incase your battery's low.

5. Have coins in case of cell phone outage. Probably won't happen, but it's always wise to have coins on hand for using a public phone.

6. Be nice to the staff of Acen and the hotel you are at. They are there to serve you, but it's good to keep in mind that they want to have fun too. When they help you out, at least the staff at the hotel, tip them, also thank them and remember their names if they did a really good job and let their bosses know, it can help them sometimes in the long run.

7. Mind the concrete. In the main convention center, keep an eye on where you walk. You don't want to slip on something, also if you see something spilled or what not, let IRT know so that it can be cleaned up.

8. Photographers, if you see a cosplay you like, ask them politely to stand on the side where they won't be in people's way while they walk.

9. Gamers, let others take turns. It's more fun when we share.

10. Smile. I know this seems silly, but if you look grumpy other people will feel it, so try smiling at people or being nice to them. The girl in the long cosplay that has the weird wings, hold the door for them. The guy that can't find something, if you know where it is maybe point it out to them if they ask you, or tell them where they can find the stations to help out. Someone drop an item, give it back if you see them, etc.
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#17 User is offline   dorkatlarge 

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 10:13 PM

Talk to other congoers. Find out what they enjoy, and what type of people they are. You never know what sort of people you'll meet. I remember talking with some fan in the Thursday evening line, and finding out that he was a personal acquaintance of one of my favorite fan artists. And then there were the people who I met right before Iron Editor, who had a lot of insight about cons in Indiana and Minnesota.

Bring at least one card game along. A deck of ordinary cards, Uno, Fluxx, Eleminis... whatever you like. It's useful if you're stuck in a line, or in a room where nothing's happening just yet. More personal than using a DS for Pictochat, but useful in case the other person doesn't want to talk much.

If you find yourself feeling sick, then get a hot beverage (a few dollars at the Hyatt lobby, the Expoteria, various stands inside the con center, etc) and drink it while breathing deeply. Adding a tablet of Airborne or its generic equivalent can be useful.

Don't drink too much caffeine. A cola, a hot beverage, or an energy shot can help you stay awake a while... but use any of these carefully.

Be very polite to the people who are cleaning the con center, and the hotel with the event you're attending at the moment.

If you find yourself feeling irritated, try thinking about something different. After a couple hours in a line, I was getting annoyed. To distract myself, I started thinking about Tommy Wiseau and the notorious movie that he made. It put things in perspective.

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:39 PM

View PostJediNight, on 09 April 2012 - 12:27 PM, said:

You can check out the Guidebook website, but I believe it's available for Android, iOS, and has a web version. As I said, I haven't had a chance to take a look at it yet, but I'm sure it will be available before the con.

EDIT: Checked their website, and seems like they don't have a general web version. I remember at some point last year they said they were working on one. I guess those plans were either scrapped or aren't finished yet. Then again, you can find maps and the schedules on our website.

There's a mobile web version that also works on desktop browsers and smartphones that don't have a supported OS: http://m.guidebook.com

I can't wait to download the ACen schedule, Otakon used Guidebook last year and it worked really well.
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Posted 10 April 2012 - 01:14 PM

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Posted 10 April 2012 - 01:20 PM

A small personal first aid kit: various sized bandaids, ointment, any medicines you need in your bag.

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 12:51 AM

View Postrondo, on 09 April 2012 - 07:23 AM, said:

The keyword.

Hit the ATMs early.

This. Usually at least once a year the only atm in the building has broken and/or run out of money. It's best to hit the atms before you even get to ACen.

View PostOtakuAngelD, on 10 April 2012 - 01:20 PM, said:

A small personal first aid kit: various sized bandaids, ointment, any medicines you need in your bag.

A small sewing kit: various threads, a needle or two, buttons, fabric tape, safety pins.


Second the kits.One year I had to run to various shops trying to find a sewing kit and safety pins. Not fun.

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 04:37 AM

Some personal tips that I've developed over the years:

The ATM's were mentioned -- Don't count on them having cash. I understand that it's ancient tech to carry cash, but it's a heck of a lot easier to keep track of your spending if you have nothing but cash on hand. I have a set amount, I have that amount in cash, when it's gone, it's gone. Keep your card for emergencies, and money that you DON'T WANT TO SPEND. I.E. gas money home, & food money.

Con plague -- it hits your system because of the sheer number of people and germs you're exposed to over the course of the weekend. A friendly and helpful tip in this department? Eat some fruit over the weekend, or boost your immune system with some of those halls vitamin c drops. This week at Meijer (shameless plug) there are Bolthill Farms smoothie drinks on sale buy one get one free. They have 3 and a half servings of fruit in them in one bottle. One of those a day would do wonders to help your body fight off infection. (They're around three bucks for one, but with the sale it makes them cost less than a bottle of soda, and much better for you, too.)

If you're in a large, or just generally warm costume, make times to take breaks and rest. I've had friends nearly pass out from heat exhaustion because of their costumes and the heat of so many people around. Take regular breaks and don't push yourself too hard. Keep your spotters handy if you have one, or bring water/gatorade with you if you're in such a costume. You'll have more fun if you're enjoying the con at your own pace.

Give yourself time to get to events you really want to attend. With 20K people milling about, it's safe to assume that getting from point A to point B is going to be a challenge. Give yourself plenty of time to get to events, and prepare to stand in line for those bigger events. (Masquerade, Concerts, Autograph Signings) When you pick events you want to go to, keep in mind that going to events back to back isn't plausible (even if they're in the same room.) Generally, ACen staff will clear out a room between events (spoken from experience, and not as an official ACen staffer.) If you give yourself time, though, you should be able to go to the majority of events that you'd like to attend.

Keep in mind that the dealers room is only open until early evening. It's something that I struggle with each year - I like to visit the dealers room and artists alley, but there are some fun panels and photoshoots that I want to go to during the day. Since the DR and AA are only open during limited times, make sure that if you're looking for those rarer items, you'll want to go to the DR and AA first. The convention is all about personal preference and priorities. You make your own fun! Everything else the con offers is just a perk. ;)
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Posted 16 April 2012 - 05:06 AM

Stay away from the mini bar in the roon. For it is pure evil.

This post has been edited by opimus.rm: 16 April 2012 - 05:07 AM

I'm just a Mazinger in a rock and roll band!

#24 User is offline   OtakuAngelD 

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Posted 16 April 2012 - 04:27 PM

Create a packing list:
It might seem a bit retentive, but it's a good idea to have for those of us who cosplay. Make a list of your cosplays and what parts/pieces/props go with them. Then when you pack them for con, check off each piece as it goes into the bag. That way, you won't accidenly forget a part of your costume. Do the same thing for leaving the hotel. That way, you don't end up leaving things behind.

Check your seat before you leave a panal/event:
In the past have accidenly misplaced my camera at least once or twice because I left it under a chair or placed it down for a moment and then walked off without it. Thankfully, the person who found it was honest enough to return it to the lost and found. I've returned con swag left behind as well.

So on that note -- Lost and Found
Know where the Lost and Found is. And on high end items such as cameras, put your name and a phonenumber on them, so that way if it's returned, it's easily identified. Plus you can be reached/located if someone finds your items.

Purchase lists:
As I collect manga and anime, as many of us do, I might only be in the market for the next volume/book/dvd in a set. Make a list before hand of the ones you are looking for. That way, you don't accidently buy doubles. Also, use that list when you do a run through of the vendor's room. Look at everying and make a note of the place where you can get said item for the least amount of money. It is likely that 3 or 4 vendors might be selling the same DVD/Manga/CD and by shopping around, you might get a better deal.
2014 ---
Sandshrew - Pokemon
Mink - DMMD
Reborn - KHR

#25 User is offline   magicalgamer 

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Posted 21 April 2012 - 11:09 AM

I have a couple things to make the con go better for everyone.

1) Keep the public restrooms clean. If a toilet clogs, or the sink keeps running, please report it. Don't ignore it.

2) If you bump into someone while walking through a crowded hall say "excuse me" or "sorry" or something to that effect.

3) Say "Thank You". There are many times during a con where you have the chance to make someones day a little brighter. For example, the officers directing traffic when you are crossing between the Hyatt and the convention center or the convention center to the Embassy Suites. These officers are there to help everyone get to where they want to go. Just say "Thank You" as you cross the street. You can say Thank you to the person who checks your badge as you go into the dealer hall. Thank you to the person who hands you the badge at will call. Thank you to anyone who is making your con better.

4) Ask politely to take photos of cosplayers. I know ninja photos happen, but the cosplayers appreciate it when you ask them first. Also, avoid blocking the hallway when you take photos.

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