Hello again! It's finally time for the thrilling conclusion to my convention adventures. To refresh your memories, during the first weekend of September I ventured into the strange and wonderful world of the FanX Convention in Salt Lake City, Utah. Part 1 of my report covers Thursday's guests and our excursion into the vendor's area. Part 2 talked about The Hillywood Show, Osric and the rest of Friday's guests. So now, let's do Saturday!
I had actually gotten a good night sleep because my husband and two of my kids decided to drive home for the night. The hotel room was convenient, sometimes, but the beds were small and it was nice for me and my other daughter to have our own beds. After my hubby arrived bright and early (he’s a morning person), he went with us back to the convention. My son and autistic daughter stayed in the comfort of home that day.
Jennifer Morrisonhad the first panel in the Grand Ballroom and it was sweet. I had watched House and a few years of Once upon a Time, so I knew something about Ms. Morrison. My daughter watched every episode of Once, so she really enjoyed the panel. It was an easy panel to like. Jennifer sat at a small table with the announcer guy on the other side. Another cup of coffee was what the actress really wanted, so it was quickly handed to her and she was very gracious. She said that her fellow actors on the convention circuit have been telling her that Salt Lake is the nicest city with the nicest fans. We all agreed, of course.
Jennifer was funny and very real. She kept forgetting the question that she was currently answering, and she seemed relaxed and happy. I want to be her best friend now. She said that after six years of playing Emma, she was ready to have a personal life again. She said she loved all her cast members, but they work hard and don’t have enough time for fun. Some of the nicest supporting tweets I received during my convention experience came from her fans, so thank you!
Next up, conveniently in the same room, was Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Gallactica). During the break between the ladies, I found a nice Con volunteer directing traffic in the room. She was telling people to come forward and take the front seats. It’s funny, but not a lot of people took her up on her offer. Once people get planted, they tend to stay where they are. I kept chatting with the volunteer, since I had nothing else to do. I even tried to get people to move forward to better seats, but whatever, fine, stay there. I told the volunteer about our troubles with the photo op and she said I should tell my story of woe to the lady in the orange shirt - who was sitting along the wall talking to someone else. This lady (a senior event manager) was still talking but I broke in, in my own not-subtle way, to speak to her. Her name was Carolyn (still is) and she was very nice. Mainly, I wanted her to know that the handicapped people in the ADA waiting room deserved better treatment than they got. A trained volunteer or two should have been assigned to that room to help people and relay information. I’d have been happy with one person with a walkie-talkie who was willing to speak to us. Now, granted, I’m sure that the convention organizers were not thinking that the photo printers would stop and that the ADA room would quickly be filled up with people in wheelchairs and impatient mothers of autistic children. It was a bad situation, all around. Carolyn listened to my concerns and asked if I still wanted to go to a Hillywood photo op, if they had another one today. Hillywood had an op at 2:15 and she went to go get us passes for that, free of charge. We were very grateful and did go. More on that later.
Anyway, Tricia Helfer spoke about Battlestar and how she was discovered in a public place while she was just minding her own business. Ms. Helfer seems very smart and gave thoughtful answers to every question. She was asked about how fun it was to act like she wasn’t there when she wasn’t alone with Baltar (great scenes of fantasy Number Six and Baltar trying not to react to her) and if she liked playing all those different Cylons. I think she said that when she wasn’t physically needed in the scene, like when James Callis (who played Baltar) was reacting to her in a shot, where another person didn’t see her, anyway...she wasn't there. Or something complicated, like that. She also said that in crowded Cylon scenes, she wasn’t always there, either. Somehow, they would find tall stand-ins to play her comrades from the back.
After lunch, it was time to go the photo op, again. It’s Saturday afternoon, remember, so the convention was even more crowded than the day before. Since my autistic daughter wasn’t there, we didn’t get to see the situation in the ADA room. Instead, we were directed to the area in front of the stage where the microphone-holding volunteer stands. Do you know that there are no Gold lines at FanX? Only ADA, VIP, something called ZipQ (which we never tried because my other daughter insisted that it was our turn to wait in the back of lines), and General Admission. Huh. So, I paid extra for a Gold Pass, why? It did get me into an entrance of the Salt Palace that was a slightly shorter walk around the building, but that’s about it. The Gold ticket pick-up line was shorter too, and I did get to wear a cool lanyard with GOLD on it.
Anyways, as instructed, our three remaining family members were twenty minutes early for the photo op. I insisted, over my daughters’ objections, that I had to stay near the back of the VIP area so I could hear what the microphone person was saying. I’m old, you know. Now, let me set the scene. At the Supernatural Convention in 2016, fans were seated in an auditorium and a person with a microphone and a speakers set-up, would call the groups to go to their photo and the fans were led out in an orderly fashion and shown where to line up. At FanX, we were standing in an open area with white lines on the floor designating the VIP and General Admission waiting “rooms.” Anyone standing in the open walkways in the middle and sides of these lined areas were quickly told to get out of way and to step behind one of the proper lines. I found it hysterical that the VIP were treated to the same seat-less and hard floor that us GenAd people were treated to across from them, only separated by those white lines on the concrete floor. To be fair, they did have a monitor that was showing what was going on in the ballroom. No sound, of course. I didn’t see a monitor in the GenAd area, but I was of course illegally encroaching on the VIP area at the time. In the Grand Ballroom, the monitor was showing that the Legends of Tomorrow Panel was about to begin. We’d already been standing in that room for a while, so I risked asking a volunteer at the stage if she knew if the photo ops were on-schedule. Of course, not.
I made my husband and daughter (she loves the CW's superhero shows) go to the Legends panel after talking to the fellow next to me in the back of VIP. He said that his daughter just was called for her photo op and that it was thirty minutes behind schedule. I figured that my family would have plenty of time to go to the panel and still come back to wait with me. I was right. After they left, I meandered my way closer to the stage so I could hear what was going on. The front of the VIP area near a giant column was sparsely filled, so I sat down to wait. The good part was that I discovered that the air conditioning was actually working on that floor, and I was a lot cooler. After my rear had fallen asleep after sitting on that floor for another half hour, I decided to play photo journalist and to document the fun in the photo op waiting area. There was a volunteer with a bullhorn who patrolled the walkway making sure that no one was encroaching upon it and also informing the lucky people whose photo ops were being called. It was a good thing that she had that bullhorn, since the sounds from the microphone were more wah, wah, wah. Anyways, I stealthily followed along behind her, darting across the white line if she turned around. I took pictures of her and the legs of people in the different areas. I was planning to post the pictures with witty comments about “this” being the VIP area and “this” being the GenAd area, but my camera wouldn't focus anymore. I guess it was tired of waiting, too. The funny part about the pictures would be that all the photos would look the same. Same tired legs and feet on the same concrete floor, in either area. Okay, I give...here are the photos, blur and all.
"Hey lady, get that stroller out of the middle aisle!"
"Okay, Vip on the left and General Admission on the right!" "Don't make me tell you to stand behind that white line, again!"
These feet belong to the Glorified VIP. Just don't ask for a chair.
After attending the panel, my family rejoined me and I tried to hang back with the regular folk to make my daughter happy. She said that Legends was fun to watch and that Brandon Routh (Ray Palmer) was serious and quiet while Caity Lotz (Sara) stole the show. Luckily, we were soon called forth. After waiting from 1:50 to 3:10, our photo op was happening! Quickly we walked past the stage to a photo room right behind it. Less than a minute later, we were back out into the main room to pick up our waiting picture. Yay, the staff had fixed the printers. I had just enough time to tell Hannah that I’m her number one fan (corny, I know), to nod at Hilly – who was seriously staying in character as Ghostbuster Dean, smile, and that’s all folks.
Here is part of my lovely family. If the photo op had happened the day before, like it was supposed to, I would have been wearing make-up and my other daughter and son would have been in the picture. That would have been nice.
We tried to get into Brent Spiner’s (Star Trek TNG) panel, but the crowd was so thick that we couldn’t find where to line up in the vast sea of costumed fans. I wanted to stay to see the Galaxy Quest panel at 5:00, but I was outvoted. My husband didn’t want to pay for another meal out and my shortish daughter was tired of battling her way through the throng. I’m thinking that more signs and directions around that huge building should be placed high up! At ground level, it’s impossible to see anything. There were a couple of people with costumes on stilts that could see where they were going, but that’s about it. Anyone in a wheelchair had to have someone walk in front of them to try to part the Red Sea of costumed humanity.
In conclusion, I did have a good time and will go to another convention again. It’s affordable and fun, I just wish that it wasn’t so crowded. Maybe tickets should be limited? I know that more volunteers are needed. Some of them were more lost than I was. Designated Gold, VIP, or whatever lines – they should be clearly marked. Maybe a lighted drone could fly over them and play the theme song of the panel, or something. I’m not blaming (much) the staff of the Salt Palace for anything. Could I set that massive endeavor up and smoothly handle 100,000 fans? Nope. Hopefully, things will change as the conventions are clearly very popular. I know that there is a smaller convention in the spring and it’s not supposed to be so crowded. I know that I’ll take my autistic daughter with me next time instead of the rest of my family. They can go their own way and do what they want to do, if they go again. Me, I’m sticking with the daughter that likes to do what I like and doesn’t march me around a gigantic building, only to blame me whenever we get lost. Oh, marriage is fun. Anyhow, I better start training for next time. A three or four-mile hike each day around the neighborhood should do it, I think.
A sincere thank you to Carolyn and all the staff and volunteers at FanX. I can’t even imagine the work that goes into such a large convention. The guests were great, the vendors and artists were great, the fellow fans and the feeling of fellowship were fantastic. There was plenty to do and lots to enjoy. I’ve never been to San Diego Comic Con and that’s probably a good thing. I can’t imagine how many miles of walking and standing in line that must be. Thanks again for the photo op, Carolyn. Kidding aside, it was much appreciated.
I apologise for the delay in completing this report and urge anyone with mental and/or health issues to visit their doctor and ask for help. That's what I'm going to do - as soon as I find my keys...and my phone...and my ability to focus and to stay awake. Anyways, cheers to all - let's all keep fighting.
Additional photos courtesy of Deseretnews.com