We’d talked a lot this year about this crazy awesome first year event gearing up on the Big Island of Hawai’i, and I have to tell you, the convention didn’t disappoint. I’ve been on staff now for a few different events of various sizes and professionalism, and I have to say, for a first year event, the folks at HawaiiCon had their proverbial shit together.
I will start with the negative, which in all honesty, wasn’t entirely the convention’s fault; they probably weren’t expecting the amount of non-Islander interest the event ended up having.
1.) Everything runs on Island time. And by this I mean all the hotel (Hapuna Prince Beach Resort) bars and restaurants closed by 10pm each night. On Saturday, two of the three eateries were OUT of food. I don’t know how many conventions you guys do, but one of the most fun parts is the after-panel socializing at the end of the night. I mean I’m lucky if I get to bed before 2am during a convention. So for those of us already planning to return next year, I’m really hoping they’ll have some sort of late evening food/drink available.
2.) The hotel staff were kind of horrible. And by kind of, I mean they really were. They talked to the convention guests like we were annoying 5 year olds, even when all we were trying to do was CHECK IN in order to give them money. The worst part of this was when the lobby receptionist told us “Oh, your room will be ready in about 15 minutes. Ok, 30 minutes. Well, 20.” It ended up being closer to an hour. My biggest complaint is the hotel’s complete lack of customer service. I don’t know what type of people they’re used to dealing with, but in my experience, any guest should be spoken to with a measure of respect, and not looked down upon just because they’re a convention go’er. Or in our case, staff. I will say one of the ladies working at the “adventures desk” had the cutest Princess Leia hairbuns, and was getting a kick out of all the cosplayers who walked by her during the weekend.
3.) The air conditioning went out on Sunday. I don’t just mean in one room, I mean the entire hotel lost their AC. Which again, wasn’t absolutely horrible, but YOU try doing a panel in a ballroom in Hawaii with 100 people and tell me it isn’t….moist. Part of me thinks the staff turned off the system to try to drive everyone out of their hotel. -.-
Now for the positive, because there was DEFINITELY more of that than negative.
1.) One of the most beautiful locations for a convention I’ve ever had the privilege to be at.
2.) Some of the most wonderful people I’ve had the chance to work with. We vacation on the Kona side of the Big Island every other year, and luckily have been able to go the last two years in a row. Last year though, we met with the HawaiiCon crew when they did their walkthrough of the facility, and within 5 minutes, knew these people were awesome and had their heads and hearts in the right place to make an event people would enjoy.
3.) All kinds of panels for all kinds of fans. I myself moderated/was a part of 12 panels in two and a half days, 6 of those on Saturday alone. Each one of these hour-two hour long talks were well attended, and the audiences were thoughtful with their questions.
3.2) The most interesting of these from my point of view were the cosplay centric panels. None of us thought about the hardcore import laws in Hawaii, and much of the crafting materials suggested by the cosplay guests Holly Conrad of Heroes Of Cosplay and Bellechere are simply not available to be shipped to the island. Things like paint, foam, even nail polish!!
4.) There were all kinds of awesome panels. I know I already kind of said that, but there were actors, actresses, comic artists, cosplayers, performers, ROCKET SCIENTISTS, pretty much something for anyone who enjoys going to conventions. And any time I get to be around Battlestar Galactica people, I’m usually a pretty happy Mab.
5.) A truly amazing first year cosplay contest. I’ve been at decade old events where the turnout for a Saturday night contest is….small. I’m talking six contestants. But this, this FIRST YEAR DESTINATION EVENT had an AMAZING turnout. I MC’d the contest, and I have to say, the support the cosplayers were giving each other was unlike anything I’ve seen before. I’ll post a full gallery of the contestants in a day or two.
6.) Even with the AC going out on Sunday, it provided an amazing opportunity for one of the prettiest panels I’ve ever had the chance to be a part of. I was moderating the lovely Esmè Bianco at 7pm, one of the very last panels of the con, in the big ballroom. But because of the heat in the room, Esmè decided we should move the talk outside to the manicured lawn in the courtyard.
7.) A sunset wedding on Monday night of two HawaiiCon Staffers, attended and witnessed by Stargate: Atlantis and Babylon 5 cast members. An intimate ceremony on the cliffs with torches, the celebratory drinking afterwards included Sex On The Beach with the bride, Ivanova (Claudia Christian), and Dr. Weir (Torri Higginson). (The SOTB were self contained doubleshots in tiny shotglasses.)
And the final awesome thing, THE BEST LOCATION TO SHOOT THEMED COSPLAY EVER. Bellechere and I both love the X-Men character Rogue, like, a lot. And we knew that there would never be a better place/reason to do Savage Land Rogue(s). You can see part of the set I shot with her here.
Needless to say, I’m already excited and planning things for HawaiiCon 2015, which you can ALREADY BUY TICKETS FOR!
Mahalo to the HawaiiCon Ohana!