Denver Fan Expo 2021 – Friday
Nerd conventions are back in mostly full swing and Denver Fan Expo 2021 didn’t disappoint.
This was Lilly’s first time at an out of town convention with me and not only was I excited to take her, she was incredibly excited to attend. As usual I booked a room just across the street from the convention center, at the Hyatt. It’s location is perfect for dipping back to the room to drop things off or just to take a break from the massive crowds. The room, as always was nice, and we had a great view of the Big Blue Bear in front of the center.
We arrived Friday morning with time to check in and settle into the hotel before the floor opened for VIPs at 2pm. When we arrived security hadn’t quite been prepared by Noon (the time we could enter the building) so we waited a bit longer. Entry was easy as always using the VIP/Media badges and we immediately headed to the VIP Lounge to pick up our swag bag.
The items were what you would expect, free comic books, a shirt, pin, and a couple of other fun nerdy items. Lilly selected the Stitch vinyl as part of the deal and we again, got in line to be allowed to enter the vendor floor at 2pm. As we waited Lilly took the time to take some pictures with a few of the cosplayers she saw dressed as various Animal Crossing characters.
My only issue with the line-up for the vendor floor was how unorganized it felt. Lilly and I were there early and had been placed against a far wall only to have other people crowding us which made Lilly uneasy with her sensory issues. When I asked fellow con-goers if they could move just a foot or two over to allow her space they acted as if I asked them to leave the area entirely. Once we were allowed upstairs Lilly was perfectly fine and she could breathe again.
I highly recommend purchasing VIP packages for the con, as you are allowed early access to the floor each morning, which is great when you or your children have sensory issues. We all know that the floor can be incredibly crowded and overwhelming. This early access afforded us the chance to really enjoy checking out all the vendors without feeling rushed or trapped.
Most of day one was spent deciding what we wanted to buy the next day. Lilly discovered a delightful “Kawaii” booth with backpacks, dresses, and accessories. We picked up one of the Froggy backpacks so she could carry her cell phone in case we were separated. I of course was immediately drawn to all the dice booths, particularly Wyrmwood, which is one of my favorite venders that I would love to see more of at the conventions I attend.
Once we’d thoroughly walked the floor we needed some food. This is an area where I really feel like the convention failed. In previous years there were so many options available for food. This year, there were five booths, with minimal options, that really felt poorly staffed. We waited 20 minutes for a cheeseburger one day, and 15 minutes for pizza another. It felt like the staff had been thrown into the booths at the last minute with little to no training. The drink options (previously wonderful bars) were now canned cocktails, beer, and wine. Overall the options worked, but were pretty disappointing overall.
After lunch we headed to the Pop Culture Classroom Kids Lab. This turned out to be one of Lilly’s favorite places. The activities set out for the kids to complete with their passports were engaging and fun. We visited with the staff of Pop Culture Classroom, bought some “geek” merchandise (shirt of Lilly, mug for me) and then started to work on filling out her passport so Lilly could get the kids swag back on completion.
The first activity she participated in was creating a book mark using three items pulled from different buckets. The first bucket contained plastic animals, the second contained pieces of paper with different senses, and the third were paint chips with interesting color names. In order to earn the stamp for this activity Lilly needed to create a story using a bee, the senses of sight and touch, and enchanted wells (the name of the color she pulled.)
This was Lilly’s story:
Once upon a time I saw an enchanted well. At the well was a bee. The bee said he would give me a wish but he would have to sting me with her touch. I said “ok” and wished for Covid to be gone. The bee stung me and it hurt, but it was worth it.
Needless to say I was pretty impressed when she told me it was about being able to get her Covid vaccination. She earned her stamp and proceeded to the next activity at the Denver History Society booth. She was introduced to some cool older items and talked about superpowers and the old artifacts from the early 1900’s. Finally, she participated in the mini-obstacle course (which she did several times.) We waited until the next day to complete her passport, during the wand creation activity. Her wand turned out pretty awesome and her swag bag had some Overwatch blind boxes, dice, comic books, and more. She was very excited to get her own dice.
Around 5pm the floor started to become a little overwhelming for Lilly, so we opted to leave for the day and return early again the next morning.
Overall the first day was successful. While I was unable to attend any panels (Lilly won’t sit still long enough to watch them) we had a fantastic day and were both exhausted and exhilarated by being back in Denver.
Stay tuned for more from Day Two!