About the Show

Anime Central (ACen) is the largest anime, manga and Japanese popular culture convention in Chicago and the Midwest. ACen happens once a year in the Spring (around April or May) less than 30 minutes from downtown Chicago, in Rosemont, IL.

As part of its mission, ACen brings fans together with guests from the Japanese and US sectors of the anime and manga industry, as well as gaming, cinema, and Asian culture personalities. The event includes a huge exhibit hall, a massive video game room, concerts, dances, educational panels and workshops, premiere screenings, autograph sessions, 24-hour video rooms, tabletop gaming and much, much more!


The purpose of the Midwest Animation Promotion Society is to promote the development of the animation industry in North America and to further the appreciation of anime and manga as valid art forms.

The secondary purpose of the Midwest Animation Promotion Society is to educate people about Asian culture and traditions.  Each year, the Midwest Animation Promotion Society sponsors a number of events and gatherings devoted to anime, manga, and Asian culture.  Our primary annual event, Anime Central, is held annually for all our members.  Anyone who purchases a membership badge for M.A.P.S. is invited to attend Anime Central as a member of the organization.

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ACen is held at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.

Hyatt Regency O’Hare

The Hyatt Regency O’Hare is connected by skywalk to the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, and offers convenient access to Allstate Arena and Rosemont Theatre. With  high-speed Internet across hundreds of thousands of square feet of meeting space, and Wi-Fi high-speed internet access in all over a thousand guestrooms, this O’Hare airport hotel is a standout among Hyatt hotels in Chicago.

Donald E. Stephens Convention Center

The Donald E. Stephens Convention Center offers 840,000 square feet of configurable exhibition space. With six halls, limitless floor plan options, and great contract services, it provides a stable, full-featured home for Anime Central that attendees, industry, and exhibitors enjoy year after year.


Chicago is currently the third largest city by population in the United States, with a population of over 9 million in the metropolitan area. 34 million tourists visit the city yearly, and it has many sister cities around the world, one of which is Osaka, Japan.

The Consulate General of Japan at Chicago provides travel services and cultural information about Japan, and the Chicago Botanic Gardens has a Japanese garden, Sansho-En, and a renowned Bonsai Collection.

In addition to Japanese cultural outlets, Chicago hosts extremely vibrant theater, music, sports, and food scenes. It is home to the Second City and I.O. comedy troupes; numerous symphonies, jazz ensembles, indie bands, hip-hop groups, and clubs; an array of major league sports teams; and restaurants serving fine cuisine from just about every culture on Earth.


What is Anime Central?

Anime Central is an event held in the state of Illinois dedicated to the appreciation, recognition, and enjoyment of Japanese animation and culture. It is an event which is attended by many and is an opportunity to meet and talk to people with similar interests.

When is Anime Central? How long is it?
  • Anime Central 2019 will be May 17th-19th, 2019. While there are slight variances in time, typically the convention will officially start on Friday around 10 am and end Sunday around 4pm. However, some things start earlier – such as Registration, Tabletop Gaming, and a few other departments which traditionally open on Thursday night.
Who runs this convention?

The convention is sponsored by a not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) organization named MAPS (Midwest Animation Promotion Society). The convention is staffed by volunteers who dedicate their time and energy to putting on a fun and exciting convention event.

What is there to do at Anime Central?

All sorts of things! We have panels on favorite series, guest signings, a dealer’s room with anime/manga and Japanese culture merchandise, video rooms, special events such as the Masquerade, and more! And that’s not counting all the opportunities you get to hang out with people who like anime/manga too.

How long has Anime Central been around?

Anime Central started in 1998, but the planning for it began much earlier in 1996 at a local anime club. Ever since then, we’ve been going strong, and our exponential growth has put us among the top conventions in the United States.

Does Anime Central run “24 hours”?

From opening ceremonies to closing ceremonies, we never shut down completely—we have events that run all night, and typically, there’s a lot going on with our attendees, so you could consider us a 24-hour convention.

Where are all the events held? Is there a map of the convention?

Anime Central is held in the Hyatt O’Hare and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. The program guide will have all the specifics of when and where to go for each event.

Is there a limit to how many attendees can enter?

There is no limit to the amount of attendees that can attend Anime Central. Some events, such as the Masquerade, will have limited attendance due to fire code rules and space. For the event itself however, we have no membership cap. Please remember that because of the volume of individuals at the convention site, you should be mindful of congregating in one place where you can block the hallways and common areas that people need to get through.

What can I expect at a convention?

You can expect pretty much anything, but aside from that, some specific things to expect are dependant on what kind of convention you attend. At ACen, you can expect to find cosplayers who dress up as their favorite Anime or Japanese culture characters, live events, concerts, dances, competitions, gaming, and individuals of all ages who appreciate different parts of the anime, manga, and Asian culture genres. We also hope you’ll find a fun and sociable atmosphere, and memories to cherish.

What is cosplay?

Cosplay is short for “costume play,” where individuals create or have made costumes of their favorite anime characters and wear them to the convention. Cosplayers are creative and are proud of their work, and it’s common to see many of them walking the halls during an anime convention.

What is the Masquerade?

The Masquerade is one of the biggest events of the convention and it is an opportunity for cosplayers to show off their costumes, present skits, and if so desired, compete for prizes.

Where’s the programming schedule, and when will it be finished?

The programming schedule is fluid depending on many factors, including but not limited to guest lineup, panel demand, new events, and time constraints. We want to put up the most accurate grid of events that we can, and not confuse our attendees with changing information. This is why we wait until the programming grid is final before we post it online. You can of course find the programming grid in the program book of your convention packet.

How will I know if there are changes to the schedule? How do I find out what went on at events I missed?

Anime Central’s Customer Service department exists to ensure that all schedule changes and items are communicated to attendees who ask. Find the stations at the convention and ask away! You can also check posted signage at the convention for scheduling changes, or consult our Guidebook program app. 

I want to be a volunteer at Anime Central. Who should I contact?
  • You can email vss@mapsevents.org to get information from the Volunteer Staffing Services team about being on staff for Anime Central. Alternatively, volunteers  can use conventionsupport@acen.org to get at-con volunteering information.
What can you expect from being on staff?

You can expect a lot of work, time, and energy spent. You can also expect, depending on what department you’re in, to miss some or most of the convention. You can expect to be told to follow the orders of your assigned department and be respectful and courteous to our attendees. But most of all, you can expect to meet a great bunch of people that want to put on a neat event for others.

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