Friday, April 1, 2016

Con-Man: Anaheim VS Los Angeles

Last weekend, Comic-Con International's WonderCon took over the Los Angeles Convention Center. If you're keeping track, WonderCon spent many years in San Francisco at the Moscone Center before construction and schedules pushed WC to Anaheim for 4 years. Anaheim was under the knife this year so WC moved up to Los Angeles. The neighboring J.W. Marriott was the Con hotel and the nearby L.A. Live housed Microsoft Theater was the Hall H or Anaheim Con Center Arena for 2016. While proximity to Hollywood was closer, WonderCon was actually a smaller show than years previous in Anaheim with even less movie and TV panels and guests. Having the show downtown was fun as you have the L.A. Live complex next door with a movie theater and restaurants and lots of cool spots just an Uber ride away. BUT the Staples Center was still in full swing with a basketball or hockey game every night of WonderCon with two on Sunday. That lead to an extra influx of thousands of folks fighting for the same restaurants and surface streets leading to night time hordes and terrible traffic.

There have been rumblings that Comic-Con will leave San Diego in the next few years as they've outgrown the convention center space and hotels are trying to rip off attendees by pre-setting steep prices and some kind of tax deal. SDCC overtakes the 11,000 hotel rooms in the area, accounts for over 60,000 stay nights and brought in a whopping $177 million to the local economy in 2014 alone. Ever the non-profit just putting on the best celebration of the creative arts, CCI has been courted by the likes of Anaheim, Los Angeles and Las Vegas. After WonderCon in Downtown, I can firmly say I vote Anaheim. The great thing about San Diego Comic-Con is that it takes over the ENTIRE downtown area. The baseball stadium, library, local parking lots, the marina, on and on there's things to see and do, many for free without a ticket. But Downtown, Los Angeles is just spread out a little too much so having those pop-ups would be difficult. Parking is already a b*tch, there's half as many hotel rooms then throw in extra sporting events just leads to a less special feeling. Las Vegas in July? Woof. No thanks. Again, things would have to be spread out and mainly held in hotels.

Even though Anaheim is in our backyard and feels less like a vacation, is simply set up to handle crowds. Highways lead directly to Disneyland and the Convention Center with few spots for bottle necking. Even when a big show like WonderCon or Star Wars Celebration is in town, you don't feel the Disneyland crush really at all. There's the Gardenwalk full of restaurants and many more just a short ride away in Orange or Fullerton. There's 13,000 hotel rooms in the area, many just a few blocks from the convention center (that's 200,000 square feet bigger than San Diego) and it's placed at the end of a street so traffic moves in and out pretty easily. WonderCon has already announced it will return to Anaheim in 2017 and for the first time in a while not be held on Easter weekend. Comic-Con has signed a deal to stay in San Diego for 2017 and 2018 so we'll see what happens after.

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