Wizard World Cleveland Review
This was our first time going to a Wizard World event and it has always intrigued us as to why the reviews from other press and contacts varied so much between people. This time we decided to go and see for ourselves just what it was that made the Wizard World Events so much different than the city conventions that take place.
Bigger Name Stars: Wizard World Cleveland headlined Matt Smith, Chris Hemsworth and Karen Gillian who would be hard to get at some of the smaller and independently run conventions.
Large Convention Area: Lots of Vendors in the area and they vary in popularity. Some range in the more obscure and specialty areas where others are more artistic and provide a variety of wares.
Queue Line for Photos: The queue line setup for the professional photos with the starts have some good points and some bad for this convention. A table was provided for photo signups, if you pre-ordered a ticket was given to you with the person name and the time helping you guarantee to get a photo. The downside to this is that if you wanted a photo for one of the big named headliners; you were in a big group at the queue line entry 15-45 minutes early and when they finally started to allow for line up the mass herd of people would rush to get into line causing a lot of pushing and being unfair for those who were in line beforehand. More organization could be done but the way they setup the queue lines once in the area was very organized and professional.
Queue Line for Autographs: The same issues come up for the autograph setup. If you pre-ordered autographs there was a booth setup over by the celebrities that you needed to pay for your autographs or show your pre order and get a ticket. The pro for this was they had 3 queue lines setup to the booth to get your ticket. The con was the group of people over in the celebrity booth area hovering and trying to get pictures while people were in line trying to get autographs. The area became congested quickly and in some instances people got in line for an autograph without having paid for a ticket meaning they would have to leave the line.
Price: This can be a sticking point for some people but considering the guest list you would expect that the price would be higher than an independent or local area convention. We went for a One Day, Saturday Only ticket and it cost us $45 per person on Pre Order. If you paid at the door the prices would be an additional $10. Full 3 day passes were almost $86 and VIP passes $200+. Photo ops for a Headliner Star like Chris Hemsworth were $175 and Autographs were $200. Considering you won’t see a star of his magnitude at many lower conventions, they can charge a premium and know people will pay it to have the opportunity to have a photo or autograph.
Matt Smith Schedule Confusion: Matt Smith missed his flight to Cleveland on Friday and had to fly out on Saturday Morning causing a headache in the schedule time of all his appearances. While this is not the fault of Matt Smith or the Con as they had to improvise on the fly. Schedule changes were posted with all the groups however there were some variations to that as well. Matt was supposed to be at a Photo Op first with autographs afterward and his panel last. He however arrived and started autographs earlier and staff at the convention were informed that he would only be doing autographs before the photo op and not after. This caused some chaos for us as we had to adjust 30 minutes before the photo op so we could get the signature done.
Panel Ballrooms: The issue here is that there are signs at the venue that inform where certain ballrooms are and then there are Wizard World Signs at the ballrooms. There are now other signs or information showing which way to go to get to the said panel rooms and programming. The guide for the convention doesn’t have a map to where the panel rooms would be at in comparison to the main vendor/celebrity room. There could have been more organization on this. Another issue is that for the Headliner panels there were some that waited in line only to find the panel was almost full due to other fans staying from the previous panel. There was no overflow room available so some people missed out.
Overall: While there were hits and misses at the convention, there was nothing that missed so bad that we would never go back. The experience was great, the staff, vendors and celebrities were all helpful and engaging. We met a few other convention goers there and had good conversations. The Cosplay was fantastic and I feel it is an overall good convention to go to. It’s not perfect but it is one of those ones that you should go to if you live fairly close and the headliners are someone you really want to see or meet. I can’t be upset at the convention for the issues they did have as they can only get better and learn from the issues that do happen.
Overall Grade: 83 of 100 With the right guests, its one you want to go to!