17 February 2015

a first-timer's guide to katsucon

Kit here! I had not been to Katsucon since Katsucon 2002, so effectively, this was my first time being at Katsucon since it was in the Gaylord National in National Harbor, MD.

So what do you do when it's your first time at a convention? Especially one in what is essentially an indoor resort?

Exploration is better when you're prepared! (Zen and Rei cosplay from Persona Q.)

First: The bare necessities.

So I heard you like Gazebos.
Elevators, bathrooms, lobby staff (for directions to which rooms required which elevators or escalators), landmarks like the gazebo. There were maps included in the registration packets, but I never got one - so I used the interactive maps the hotel had, which directed me to the right places without fail. The elevators were on opposite sides of the gigantic atrium area, which made it easy to remember where they were located, and the views of the atrium and of the Potomac River were amazing. If you were meeting people for meetups or photoshoots, knowing where landmarks were like the gazebo (middle of Floor 2) helped to coordinate locations. The lobby staff of the hotel were also helpful, as it can be difficult to figure out where individual rooms are or the easiest way to get to them, so a big shoutout to the Gaylord National staff for being so helpful and friendly towards flustered attendees like myself.

Walter and Alucard from Hellsing: the Dawn.

Second: Take your time.

This should really go without saying: if you're in an unfamiliar area, and ESPECIALLY at a convention, allow yourself more time to get to panels/dealers hall/meetups than you might initially think. You might get stopped on the way by a friend, or stop for pictures like I did - if I saw an amazing or rare cosplay, I jumped at the chance to take photos. (Like this Hellsing: the Dawn cosplay, to the left!) The elevators may just take more time than you thought they would, or getting coffee turns into a 20-person line ordeal. I gave myself plenty of time to get to my panels, and even though I arrived on the side of early, it also gave me the time to talk to the convention staff, get drinks, and remember my way around more easily. I also was able to explore the hotel more, and see what was going on in other rooms (such as tabletop gaming, where the LAN gaming room was, and so forth) that I would not have otherwise been able to check without giving myself the extra time.

Third: Make friends!

Don't be afraid to talk to people you see in line, or at panel presentations! Thanks to Katsucon, I saw an array of people that I had only heard about from friends-of-friends, or through associations with other conventions: Katsucon gave me an opportunity to actually meet with them, and due to its location in National Harbor, it was easy to go out of the Gaylord National for a bite to eat or to grab some delicious coffee at Harbor Coffee!

An acquaintance of mine at another convention had a rule for conventions: don't eat alone. This is a quick way of talking to people: when you go for coffee or tea, or a snack or a meal, invite someone to go along with you for the company if you can. It's a neat idea, so if you can do so, feel free to borrow it too!

Final thoughts.

If you have not been to Katsucon, go at least once for the experience of it, if you can! It may be overwhelming, but with these tips in mind, I hope it's easier. I had a lot of fun this year, even though I did not take many pictures - but I hope to come back next year!

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