If you were hoping I would write a Con Report about an exciting fan convention held in my own hometown, you are in luck. Read on!
Hello! What a weird word – Hell+O? Nice greeting. Just to be a smartypants, it was Thomas Edison who pushed that word to be the official answering term for his new telephone. His rival, Mr. Bell, wanted us to say Ahoy! So, Ahoy!
Anyhoo, I’m back at the typewriter (computer…keyboard…whatever) after a long, cruel summer. While the East Coast received more rain than they needed or wanted, here in the West it’s just been extreme heat, fire, smoke, and more heat. There have been so many fires nearby this summer, some days the sky and sun were orange and I thought that the Apocalypse was nigh. I kid you not. I wish we could send some of our heat and dryness to the East and receive some of that rain here. I’m telling you this because I was supposed to write my terribly wry and thought-provoking retro reviews this summer, but I just couldn’t. Menopause isn’t for sissies, that’s for sure. I knew that if I even tried to write about an episode filmed in cool and misty Vancouver, my tears of envy and longing would just sizzle dry on my hot cheeks.
A recent sunset over the Oquirrh Mountains made extra colorful by all the fires that are nearby.
Now, I’m going to try to make this con report be…somewhat exciting, but I’m still kind of a mess, right now. Did you know, along with hot flashes, that menopause can also cause memory loss and confusion? I’m lucky that my head is attached to my neck or I would lose it…like I lose my phone, glasses, whatever I’m holding in my hand, or the idea of what I need to do – as soon as I walk into a different room. People keep telling me that it’ll only be this bad for a couple of years. Wow, how comforting. Winter is coming, that’s comforting. I’ll go stand out in the snow when the hot flashes attack.
Now for the Con Report!
Anyway, during the first weekend of September, I ventured into the strange and wonderful world of the FanX Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. For those of you who have never heard of this event – let me clarify. FanX started out as Salt Lake Comic Con back in 2013. William Shatner and Stan Lee were among the celebrity guests. 70,000 to 80,000 fans came and it was held at the Salt Palace Convention Center. Then, in 2014, San Diego Comic-Con International sent Dan Farr Productions a cease and desist letter over the use of the word "Comic Con." After a three-year legal brouhaha, a jury found that San Diego Comic Con did have a trademark on that term. Who knew? Jeeze guys, sorry for trying to honor (borrow, steal) your cool name. So fine, the Farr Production Company had to start using the less cool moniker of FanX, for their little convention.
It was going to be three fun days on the streets of Salt Lake. At least the scenery was lovely to look at as we walked and walked. The nice thing about having a convention at a hotel is that the places you want to go are mainly contained in that space. At a large convention center, the hotels and food are further spread out. The weather was pretty good - a tad too hot at times, but it could have been worse. September is a month to look forward to, around here.
I had never attended this event in the past. Even though I live less than 30 miles from Salt Lake, I didn’t want to go, in the beginning. My children would attend with their friends, and I went to a Supernatural Convention in 2016, but I didn’t seriously decide to go to FanX until I knew that we were going to spend a long, hot summer in Utah without a vacation trip due to finances. Since Salt Lake is so close and FanX is affordable, I went ahead and bought Gold tickets for myself and two family members. Then the ticket company said that we won a free Friday ticket for an additional person on Friday, so my son also came that day. He’s a young adult with a busy schedule, so he couldn’t be with us much that weekend anyway. My adult autistic daughter only had to buy an inexpensive two-day pass, but was treated to front-of-the-line service because of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The rest of the family got to tag along with her. My other kids felt funny about cutting the lines, but I told them that if they didn’t have to put up with their funny but exasperating older sister their whole lives, they would be in the back of the line with everyone else. Now that my daughter isn’t a cute little child, people stare and react more harshly to her than before when she’s having a screaming fit, so the shorter and quieter ADA lines are much less stressful than general admission lines.
We splurged on one tiny hotel room near the convention center because parking downtown is hard on the best of days. I thought that I had done well to get so close to the Salt Palace, but what I didn’t realize was that we were facing the back alley of that enormous building that straddles two city blocks. Guess where the entrances were? Not anywhere near us, that’s where. The Salt Palace used to be a sports arena when I was a teenager. I hadn’t been there since the original building was demolished in 1994. The new building boasts 700,000 square feet and by the last day it felt like I had walked all of it, ten times over. Our hotel was near the arena that the Utah Jazz play in.
We got a late start from our house on Thursday (because I was behind on packing and my husband wanted to eat lunch at home to save a few bucks), but it only takes thirty minutes to drive downtown and the lines to pick up our passes at the convention were not that long (once we walked the mile-long sidewalk around to the main entrance). Purchasing Gold passes online helped out with the process. At the Supernatural Convention that I attended in 2016, a Gold pass cost over 800 dollars. Here, it’s less than 100 dollars and discounts are given for early purchase. We also received several ads in the mail that offered discounts, so this convention is affordable. The photo ops range from 40 to 150 dollars, with only the well-known celebrities charging in the upper ranges. Autographs were about half that price. Those events take place in the farthest corner of the vendor floor, which is so big that it turns a corner and just keeps on going.
My daughter was thrilled with the amount of Pokémon being sold and displayed. Thursday was nice in the vendor area because the crowds weren’t bad. Ha, just wait until Saturday afternoon.
She could have stayed in the vendor area, all day.
My daughter had us go to a Voltron discussion that she seemed to enjoy very much. I had no clue what they were talking about. My other daughter didn't seemed interested. She had headphones over her ears playing kid music.
After walking around for a while, it was time to go to the panel with Robby Benson and Paige O’Hara, who voiced Disney’s Beauty and The Beast. The Robster was a big crush of mine. He played a part in one of my favorite 80’s movies – Ice Castles.
"Stay with me?" "You bet." Sigh.
If I had been courageous, I would have asked him about that movie. He might not have had many insights, though. At sixty-something, Mr.Benson seems not to remember that much. Paige spent most of the time talking for both of them. After a while, Robby warmed up and he still had that sexy voice that I remember so well. He did The Beast’s roar for us. Paige’s voice was silky smooth and she seemed like a very happy person.
We were only at the convention center from the middle of the afternoon to early evening. We spent most of our time walking, it seemed. The Salt Palace should have its own zip code. Glidewalks and hovercars would have been nice also. It was neat to see so many wonderful costumes and friendly people who were always willing to stop for a picture. My favorites were the girls who dressed up as The Peaches from A League of Their Own, the Sailor Moons, the Disney Princesses in billowing skirts, and that guy who was dressed like Link, from Zelda.
There were many things to look at, buy, and enjoy. Things got more complicated as the weekend progressed.
After spending more time getting lost in the vendor area and admiring the many fun costumes that people were wearing, we walked to the nearest mall for an affordable dinner, and then we walked all the way back to our tiny hotel room. We spent some time in the small indoor pool and hot tub and then it was time for bed. We were all pretty tired and foot-sore, but sleep wasn’t easy for four adults on two small Queen beds.
That’s about it for the first day. I’ll be back with the next installment of this saga soon. Thanks for reading and it's good to be back here at The WFB!
Additional Photo Credits:
Carter Williams, KSL.com
Dick N. on Yelp.com
Richard White, Calgaryherald.com
Roger Ebert for the Ice Castles Picture.