***Disclosure - I received a complimentary 4-day media pass to cover this event. All opinions are my own***
Last month I attended my first Wizard World Comic Con 2018 in Chicago with my teens. It was my kid’s love for all things related to the comic book world that persuaded me to drive the 4 hours from Wisconsin to the windy city. Not that I ever needed much persuasion, to begin with. I am a bit of a geek at heart too. If it’s anything to do with Star Wars, the DC or Marvel Universe you can count me in!
In its 20th year, Wizard World Comic Con gives their attendees the chance to experience the best in pop culture: movies, television, gaming, live entertainment, tech, comics, and sci-fi.
The venue of choice was the Donald E. Convention Center in Rosemont, Illinois which made perfect sense being that it's only 2 miles from the Chicago O'Hare Airport; ideal for those who wanted to drop in for four days of programming, entertainment and shopping at WWCC.
Parking for those who traveled to this event was available within a mile of the site and offered in various locations. This wasn't my first time at the Donald E. Convention Center. For me, the best option was to park at the bus station parking lot. It was about a 10-minute walk up to the front doors of the venue and only cost $7 to park for 10 hours on a Saturday. There was also the choice to wait for a shuttle to the convention center if you didn't feel up to walking. The shuttle runs every 15-20 minutes (due to heavy traffic times, the wait to catch a ride may be longer).
Whether it was your first time to the Donald E. Convention Center or Wizard World Comic Con Chicago or 5th visit, the most helpful source of up-to-date information was found on social media and the WWCC website. A few weeks before the event I made sure to have my Twitter account notification on alert for Wizard World so that I could learn of any new additions or changes during the 4-day festivities.
When you head up to the counter to pick up your passes or wristbands, there was complimentary WWCC Chicago Official Programs you could use to help guide you through that day's activities. It was filled with a list of exhibitors, artists, a floor map, and a schedule of the celebrity guests that offered autographs, photo ops and their panel times with the room they'd be located at.
Even if you didn't get a chance to attend this year's WWCC, you could still get a head start for all of the upcoming events by signing up for their newsletter where you'll receive exclusive VIP packages, special offers, Wizard Con News and more!
Kids Zone Entertainment
All four days included kid-focused activities where the younger attendees could participate in official Ghostbusters Activities, interact with Reptiles during a show and tell, enjoy coloring, have various story times, plus meet & greet with Characters.
Exhibitors and Artists
For anyone that loves to collect pop culture memorabilia, this is THE PLACE you want to be. With around 250+ exhibitors and 200+ artists, you will easily spend most of your day wandering from booth-to-booth. My kids had a game plan to hit up every vendor that carried Funko Pops and Legos to spend all of their allowance money. They left with several bags full of merchandise and huge smiles on their face.
Special Accommodations for Medical Issues
Once we arrived at the security checkpoint for all attendees, I had no issues entering with my medical emergency bag that contains a variety of medications and other treatment options for my 15-year-old and my health conditions. If there is one thing I've learned about attending any event, you need to have all treatment options readily available at a moments notice.
For anyone concerned about visiting a specific venue that requires special accommodations for health matters, I've found if you contact a representative from the customer service section of the website at least 3-4 weeks beforehand, you can get your questions answered and avoid any confusion when trying to go through security.
I must acknowledge how nice it was to have water coolers located at each entrance for the guest panels. Sometimes when you spend the day walking around a huge event, you forget to stay hydrated. This accommodation was a generous addition that came in handy when I needed to take my medicine.
There was a wide selection of food and drinks at this venue. I saw someone’s Instagram post of their walking taco the day before and knew that's what I wanted for my lunch. It was worth the $10 to have that tender, full-flavored carne asada smothered over Doritos with cheese sauce, lettuce, sour cream, and a whole bunch of toppings I hungrily scarfed down. My kids prefer meals that consist of pizza, hamburgers and french fries which is on the menu at the main food stands. The cost for the three of us to have food and drinks ended up being around $45. Considering everyone was happy with the taste and size of the food portions they consumed, it was well worth the price.
Autograph and Photo Ops
There was no shortage of Cosplayers as you entered through the lit arch displaying the WWCC emblem. I could barely contain my excitement as I approached the section where one of the many superheroes I crushed on was signing autographs and taking pictures with the fans. The very second my eyes caught those of Smallville's Superman, Tom Welling I knew this would be an event I would never forget.
One of my kids brought along his Smallville's Clark Kent Funko Pop for Tom to sign. I watched from the sidelines as my son stood in line for half an hour to be face-to-face with Mr. Welling and got an autograph on a cherished memento that he gets to display proudly in his room.
My other son heard that Ghostbusters film Director Ivan Reitman was giving out free autographs to his fans. He waited patiently in line and had another one of his collectables signed. An added bonus for him was having a picture taken with the famous director.
Saturday's panel line-up started with the Women of Pop Culture that featured Holly Marie Combs and Charisma Carpenter. These ladies entertained the audience with stories about working on Charmed and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. I loved how genuine Holly and Charisma were with answering the questions from their adoring fans. No matter how many roles these ladies played over the years, I was still fangirling over the fact I got to be in the SAME room as Piper and Cordelia!
The second panel I had the opportunity to attend was with the cast and author of Outlander. I have to admit, I am new to this series and only had the chance to watch a few episodes before I sat through this panel. However, when you are in the same building as the ensemble of amazingly talented actors, you make it a point to drop everything to see them in person. The cast included Graham Mc Tavish, Lotte Verbeek, Richard Rankin, Sophie Skelton and the woman who made this all possible, Author Diana Gabaldon.
The panel immediately following Outlander took place in the same room. It was Ghostbusters Behind the Scenes: A Conversation with Ivan Reitman and Ernie Hudson. My teens and I spent 45 minutes learning all about how the script for Ghostbusters came into fruition and which actor turned down a role on the film because he couldn't use a German accent for his character (It was the late John Candy who offered a part in what turned out to be a huge blockbuster film.)
The audience was curious about whether Ivan had plans for another Ghostbusters movie. All he had to say was there would be major news revealed in June of 2019 at Sony's two day Ghostbusters Fan Fest that will take place around the films 35th anniversary. The fabulous people at Wizard World are the masterminds behind planning this event so there's no doubt this will be a great festival!
As soon as Ivan Reitman and Ernie Hudson left the stage, the announcer updated us on the recent changes for the upcoming Michael Rooker VS the Audience panel. As luck would have it, Michael's Guardian of the Galaxy Vol 2 co-star, Pom Klementieff, who played Mantis walked onto the stage to start things off. We learned a bit about Pom before Michael stole the show by asking a question while pretending to be a member of the audience then runs towards the stage where he purposely trips making everyone roar out in laughter.
In all honesty, I never knew how much of a comedian Michael Rooker could be. My sides hurt from laughing hysterically during that panel, but it was worth it! If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend attending one of Mr. Rooker's panels.
About 30 minutes separated that panel and next one; The Truth is Out There: A Conversation with David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. The crowd was all cheers as the announcer introduced David and Gillian onto the stage. I’ve been a huge fan of the X-Files since it first premiered in 1993 and was thrilled when it made its return back to TV in 2016. It comes as no surprise that the audience turnout was the biggest one I witnessed all day.
Unfortunately, I did not get to sit through the entire panel. Minutes after David and Gillian made their appearance I had to flee the conference room and take care of a medical issue (a migraine attack) I was experiencing. I was thankful for the area right outside of the rooms where I was able to sit, take my medication and rest. One employee did take notice that I was wearing my sunglasses and cryoscarf over my forehead then asked if I needed extra assistance. I kindly thanked them and rested for a few more minutes until I was well enough to join my teens who were already sitting in on the KIN panel.
During the KIN panel, the attendees were introduced to the movie’s directors, twin brothers Jonathan and Josh Baker. We learned about how they first got their start in directing advertisements and their short film, Bag Man, led them to pitching a story to a production company where the rest is history. Posters were handed out and signed by the directors along with complimentary tickets issued to anyone at the panel that wanted to attend an advance private screening of KIN at the AMC Rosemont theater.
What are my final thoughts on attending my very first Wizard World Comic Con?
This is event was perfect for the entire family. There were an array of activities for attendees of all ages to partake in. Not to mention, the restrooms and food vendors are placed all throughout the venue making it easy to take those necessary breaks in between all of the fun-filled excitement.
The wait time to enter the conference center was very impressive. There were plenty of lines with staff members on hand to get the attendees through security and into the building promptly. We arrived just a little after 11 A.M. and clocked our total time in line at 16 minutes. Once we made it to the counter to pick up my teen's wristbands, it was an additional 10-minute wait.
The volunteers and staff were knowledgeable when I asked a variety of questions regarding the venue and events happening throughout the day. I really did appreciate the one staff member that checked on me and offered additional medical assistance when I was not feeling well.
Hands down my two favorite parts of WWCC Chicago was the panels and going to the private screening of KIN. The celebrity line-up for this year's event had actor's I've wanted to see in person since the 90's! Having the chance to sit a mere few feet away from some of those actors was the icing on the cake.
My teenagers loved the KIN movie just as much as I did. The 80's vibe with the huge plot twist at the end is what made this film a must-see for anyone who is into sci-fi. It was awesome to have directors Josh and Jonathan do a Q&A after the ending credits. I can already see these guys having a promising career in the movie industry and can't wait to see what they'll create next.
To find the upcoming locations for Wizard World Comic Con and learn more about these events, check out their official website: