Dark Media Goes to Texas to cover Fan Expo Dallas 2016 #FanExpoDallas
Part One: Lay of the Land at the Dallas Convention Center and Downtown Dallas
Fan Expo Dallas took place June 3-6 at the Dallas Convention Center. This three day celebration of pop culture and fandom included celebrity appearances, photo and autograph opportunities, panels, cosplay, exhibitors, and so much more.
I’ve never been to Texas, so this trip was incredibly exciting to be in a completely new environment. It was also the first convention I’ve attended in a different time zone, which was interesting to say the least. I thought I’d start out by talking about the Fan Expo venue itself, the Dallas Convention Center, and the surrounding area.
Downtown Dallas is well suited for a comic convention, with plenty of hotel and dining options located nearby. The Omni is physically connected to the Dallas Convention Center (also known as the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center), and the Dallas rapid transit system, DART, stops behind the convention center as well, providing a great method of transportation to and from the event. A day pass for the DART is only $5 and it will take you all over, including both Dallas/Fort Worth and Love Field airports. I should also mention that the Dallas Convention Center is located next to the Pioneer Cemetery, which houses the remains of four different graveyards dating back to the 1850s. It’s literally connected to the convention center with a courtyard, and it’s lush and green and very peaceful. Several people ate their lunches among the ornate headstones.
In terms of space, the Dallas Convention Center is huge, with approximately 2,000,000 square feet of total space including a massive exhibit hall, spacious ballrooms for larger panels, and a circular arena with 9,800 seats for premium events. I really enjoyed attending the Arthur Darvill panel in the arena. It was intimate no matter where you sat, and even if it was full there still isn’t a bad seat in the house.
Having an open layout allowed for a comfortable experience inside the exhibit hall, which remained consistently busy all weekend without the feeling of being swallowed in a sea of humanity as is so common at other venues. The folks at Fan Expo Dallas also provided several branded step-and-repeats throughout the event for fans to use as a backdrop for pictures.
I was fortunate to hold both a media pass and a premium badge, which allowed me admission to the premium lounge. The lounge was a space reserved for premium badge holders, with ample seating and access to power outlets. It’s a nice touch to have additional areas where fans can relax between events.
This brings me to the food and beverage options at the Dallas Convention Center. There were food options everywhere, ranging from gourmet popcorn to a soda wagon with all-day refills included in the purchase price of a souvenir mug, and everything in between. It wasn’t difficult to find something to eat at any point during the expo, and the lines weren’t awful. Also, given the availability of the premium and VIP lounges, seating was never an issue either.
The autograph and photo op areas were spacious enough to manage all of the ensuing lines that come about as people wait for their signatures and photos. Their proximity also allowed people to move from the photo area to the autograph area to have their photos signed, thus creating the ultimate souvenir.
You might be wondering why I’m taking this time to talk about the venue, but if you’ve read any of my other con posts, you’ll see that I’ve been to man cons in many venues, and I’ve learned that the venue really makes a con. If it’s too big, the excitement gets lost. If it’s too small, then it feels like you’re trapped. Fan Expo Dallas fits the Dallas Convention Center perfectly, and there’s a lot of room to grow. I can’t wait to see what they have planned for 2017!