Fan Expo, which is held in Toronto, has grown dramatically in the fifteen years since its inception but has maintained its focus on trying to provide something for everyone: Science Fiction, Comics, Horror, Anime, and Gaming.
Such a wide scope attracted an increasingly large number of attendees at Fan Expo 2010 (approximately 60,000 people), to the point of overcrowding. In fact, organizers were forced to stop admitting fans to the main exhibition floor due to a concern over maximum occupancy rules, which understandably frustrated attendees who had already paid admittance. On August 31, 2010, the President of Hobby Star Marketing (the organizers of the event) published an apology to all fans and promised to improve space issues for 2011.
Despite the overcrowding, the lack of places to eat, and the long lines, thousands of attendees enjoyed going to panels, taking in the sights, and meeting celebrities, authors, and other fans.
Probably the biggest hype swirled around the upcoming release of TRON: Legacy, a film that brings a new generation of actors and fans to the TRON universe. The one-hour presentation by two hosts from the Space Channel featured a seven-minute segment from the movie, trailers, a demo of the accompanying video game, and an interview with Bruce Boxleitner, a star of both films. The TRON booth on the convention floor was one of the biggest and most complex. Clearly, Disney is targeting its marketing at this kind of crowd. And Disney was protecting its property with high security — cell phones and cameras were not to be brought into the theatre, and several fans using these devices were caught by security personnel using night vision monoculars.
Another highlight was the number of attendees who participate in cosplay or "costume play," where people dress up as characters from science fiction, fantasy works, and even video games. Cosplayers generally love to pose and have their picture taken. Some of them travel from great distances and attend many of these types of gatherings. There are competitions and masquerade balls, but most of the cosplayers do it for pure fun.
Take a look at my photos from the event in the TechRepublic gallery: "Fan Expo 2010: Scenes from the convention."
Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the several blogs.