My favorite ACen memory is also my first.
I'm from the UK and have been on the con circuit out there for YEARS. To this day I could walk in to the LondonExpo or the Bristol ComicCon and be hailed as an old friend, despite being in the States since 2008.
My wife had never been to a convention. We were married in 2008 and I made it clear I wanted to hit ACen in 2009 as it was world famous and I had heard many good things since I was English.
We spend months prepping. She goes as Lucia from Lunar 2, a rare gem of a video game for the Sega CD and PS1. Mostly forgotten... but well loved by those who remember it. I go as Walter "Rorschach" Kovacs from Watchmen. I have a brown jacket, green shirt, tie, GIANT SIGN saying "The End is Nigh"
It is 2009. The year the "No signs!" rule was introduced.
So we get to Rosemont. Find our parking. Book in to a hotel. Get changed in to cosplay. It's Friday morning. I'm buzzing with excitement. She is a little scared. Worried. Keeps telling me that no one will recognize her outfit. She's not so sure about this...
We walk in to the convention centre.
Two things happen.
1. Security POUNCE on me for having a sign.
2. A group of Lunar cosplays swarm my wife the moment she walks in the door.
She's posing for pictures.
I'm being taken to the Hyatt to have my prop verified and okayed.
We return and my wife is glowing
! She was freaked out because we were seperated but in that moment she had found acceptance, made new friends (who we are still familiar with to this day) and banished all her fears which had kept her away from conventions. She was giddy with happiness.
And now we go to 5-6 cons per year. We refer to ACen as "our party convention".
I can't wait to go back.