One of the many wonderful things to see in Southern California is San Diego’s Comic-Con: “the largest comics and popular arts convention in the world, according to the Guinness World Records.” Unfortunately Comic-Con takes place but once a year, for four days (plus preview night) in the summer.
Another similarly themed, although smaller ’Con, used to be far away at the Moscone Center in Northern California. However, a couple of years ago that show was moved (supposedly on a temporary basis) to the Anaheim Convention Center, near Disneyland. It was given the name WonderCon Anaheim.
I’d heard that the reason for the move was because the Moscone Center, which had housed the annual event, was getting renovated. If so, it must have been a very long and extensive renovation because WonderCon Anaheim remains in Southern California and is going strong, with over 50,000 attendees in 2013.
This year WonderCon Anaheim was held from April 18 – 20. I wanted to attend it so badly that I intentionally left Las Vegas early, where I was a participant at the four day, 50th anniversary celebration for Ford’s Mustang, so that I could also go to WonderCon Anaheim that same extended weekend. Despite all of the driving, it was well worth the effort.
WonderCon Anaheim and Comic-Con are both part of the Comic-Con International family. That said, they have similarities and differences.
Both have a multitude of interesting and entertaining panels where fans can watch sneak previews of upcoming TV shows and movies, learn more about their favorite areas of pop culture and enjoy lively, revealing panel discussions amongst stars and key production personnel. Usually at the end of each panel there is also an opportunity for a few lucky fans to ask the panelists questions. This year at WonderCon Anaheim there were over 250 hours of programming.
WonderCon Anaheim is smaller and less crowded than Comic-Con. Despite this, passes for Comic-Con sell out almost immediately after they go on sale, whereas passes for WonderCon Anaheim are much easier to obtain.
WonderCon Anaheim has strong participation from comic book publishers, including major ones, making it “one of the largest comic conventions on the West Coast.”
WonderCon Anaheim does not have Comic-Con’s elaborate, entertaining, purpose-built and interactive exhibits – which are often on a massive scale and dramatically promote specific TV shows and movies.
At both ’Cons large numbers of attendees wear costumes and are ‘in character’ – inside and outside of the convention centers. People work – often for many months, to create original, unique, exquisitely detailed costumes that portray their favorite comic book, movie and TV show characters. Then, on Saturday night, each ’Con hosts a masquerade, where attendees go up on stage and perform short skits and routines in front of enthusiastic, large audiences as they compete for the coveted awards given out by the judges at the end of the evening. The masquerade is a fun, not-to-be-missed event for participants and spectators alike.