What can I say about Anime Festival Orlando?
For one, I can say that this convention has had a special place in my heart for nearly a decade. There used to be a time where I’d hype it up and try to get as many people to come to the Wyndham with me for a day or two of cosplay shenanigans. Everyone was so friendly and events and rooms were laid out in such a way that it wasn’t claustrophobic. I used to really enjoy AFO.
Let it be said that there is such a thing as a bad year for a convention. Sometimes there is a change in staffing, or the hotel has new policies that the convention has to adhere to, and that can take adjusting.
Unfortunately, that’s about all the Wyndham is good for nowadays.
Parking has always been an issue with the convention. For as long as I can remember, from the time I started attending this convention back in 2007, cars would line up on the side of the road, park in ditches, and constantly be circling the resort to find some unfortunate soul who had to leave for one reason or another and snipe their parking space. You can all say you’re used to it, and first come first serve, but it’s an issue that needs to be addressed. No one wants to park on the complete opposite side of the resort from their hotel room, and Wawa wasn’t too keen on people parking in their lot when employees couldn’t park on time for work.
This isn’t all new. Space is becoming a pressing issue for AFO. While the parking is a disaster on the inside, the layout of the convention hardly makes up for it. In 2014, Artist Alley was just inside the main doors, just passed the lobby. While there was admittedly some traffic in the area, the new area did nothing to resolve that. In fact, it was worse. I have to take my hat off to AFO for not putting Artist Alley in the Dealer’s Room, putting it right across from the Dealer’s Room made traffic through the area pretty tight. It wasn’t unbearable, but when people stopping in the middle of the walkway trying to take some random hallway shots and there are others finagling around them to get to Artist Alley or the Dealer’s Room is becomes an issue.
It was nice to see most of the same vendors at the convention, but, and I say this knowing that this isn’t the fault of the convention, it would be nice if some of the returning vendors had something new to look at. Yeah, I know it’s an anime convention and you’re going to find a lot of the same stuff year-to-year and convention to convention, but there needs to be more of a variety. I get that vendors want to sell the hot anime merch, namely, and you know I’m right, Attack on Titan. We get it. It’s a great show. It’s a great story. People love the characters, but people also love other shows and characters. What I wouldn’t give to see a vendor booth with an oversaturation of Final Fantasy Play Arts again. Ah, sweet rotation.
If you’ve attended the convention, you know Orlandia. If you don’t know Orlandia, someone either hasn’t been paying attention, or you’ve stumbled across this review on accident and wondering what you’re doing with your life (and also why we’re attacking the titans.)
Tales of Orlandia is an ongoing convention based game that you role-play out during theweekend. There are characters (cosplayers) you can interact with and side with as well as other players of the game that you’re able to team up with. Based on the results of the gameplay from day to day, the story will change. It’s great for all of those Dungeons and Dragons fans that want to hook up with new people. Check out the full story of Orlandia here:
Guests and panels this year were pretty great. I’ve always been a fan of the creative panels put together by attendees to celebrate the love of something specific with other people who appreciate it just as much or want to learn more about whatever the topic is. My only complaint about the panels ties back into the space issue. That narrow hallway between the ramp and the vendors where the two panel rooms are should not be used for guest panels. The traffic is way too insane there to try and break through lines.
Finally, my only complaint with the staff was that nobody seemed to know what was going on. It took them until the day before the convention to approve us for press passes, and when we went to pick them up, not only were they not ready, but we weren’t even on the list for press. To add to the situation, because we didn’t know we were getting the badges, we went ahead and bought regular weekend passes, which when mentioned, we were told that we had to go through the Eventbrite website to get a refund on. However, the Eventbrite site says we have to go through the convention. The communication ball was dropped somewhere and it rolled pretty far off the course.
All of that said, it’s worth mentioning that there was a stabbing of some kind at the convention. Whether the incident is tied to the event remains unclear on this end, it’s still a matter that we should talk about. In short, sweet terms, if you’re partying so hard that stabbing seems like a good idea, you shouldn’t be partying. No one’s night should have to be ruined by cops, lights, and sirens.
I’m all for giving AFO another shot, but some of the space issues has to be resolved. They have to able to accommodate its growing numbers. Finger crossed.