By Ashley Benson
It always baffles me that the biggest pop culture event of the season can pass by in a blur. Four days can seem like only four hours since every minute of San Diego Comic Con is packed with so much to see and do, especially for the dedicated Oncer. Once Upon a Time continued to shine at Comic Con, bringing fans from all over together to celebrate our favorite fairy tale show.
This year ABC decided to branch out from the single show format of their booth and created the ABC Castle, a fan experience that brought SDCC guests up close and personal with several ABC shows. Guests entering the castle could audition for The Quest, sing-a-long with Galavant, or take a photo to commemorate 10 years of Lost. However, the biggest draw this year was once again the pins. A visit to Mr. Gold’s Pawnshop allowed SDCC guests the chance to uncover one of five different show pins, the arguably most sought after being Elsa’s urn from the OUAT episode “There’s No Place Like Home”. If you collected all five pins, you gained entrance to different autograph sessions, including the one for Once Upon a Time. The exclusivity of both the pins and the signing created a similar situation to last year, with fans taking many turns through the ABC Castle in hopes to succeed in earning its treasures. I got very lucky and snagged an OUAT pin on my first go around during Preview Night.
The highlight of my Comic Con experience was of course the Once Upon a Time panel. Wishing to leave nothing up to chance, several fellow Oncers and I camped out under the stars Friday night in order to ensure we would get a spot in the panel. We waited in the Ballroom 20 line for 17 hours, and while this may sound insane and excessive to some, we still had an amazing time meeting new Once Upon a Time fans, ordering pizza to the line, and snapping photos of amazing costumes as people passed by. It was like being at a Once Upon a Time summer camp for the night!
Once we finally got into the infamous Ballroom 20 (and the sweet sweet air conditioning) Saturday morning, the anticipation only grew as the minutes crawled by, bringing us closer to the Once Upon a Time panel. And then suddenly, it was time! The cast arrived, looking fabulous as usual and began answering questions posed by the hilarious Yvette Nicole Brown. I really enjoy that Comic Con decided to find celebrity fans to moderate panels this year. They chose moderators who care about the shows and material, who know the burning questions every fan has. Yvette Nicole Brown did an amazing job moderating and I personally would love to see her back with the show after seeing the chemistry she has with the cast and her care for the show. Videos of the panel can be found here.
The panel itself was extremely well balanced. Every guest got a chance to answer questions with no one character taking precedence over another. There was something for everyone, whether you were a fan of Regina, Rumple, or Snow White. Speaking of Snow White, the various videos and sneak peeks sprinkled throughout the panel were one of my favorite parts. I love that Ginny was able to send a message to the fans and was thrilled with the sneak peek of the season 4 premiere (based on that scene, it’s going to be good). The Writer’s Room skit was entertaining and allowed Adam and Eddy to poke fun at themselves. Also, I have to admit I was a bit on the fence about the Frozen storyline. It seemed too new to me and that it took up a lot of focus PR-wise. This was not the case at the panel. The panel focused on our main cast with only a quick sneak peek of Anna and Elsa at the end. And from what I saw of the sisters, I am much more on board with the Frozen storyline now.
Right after the panel, Oncers rushed down to the exhibit hall for the Once Upon a Time autograph session. Only about 100 tickets were given out for this event, the last few given to those fans who asked questions during the panel. However, most of the fans were there to observe and snap a quick photo of the cast as they chatted and signed the winter-themed OUAT posters. The environment was chaotic, with so many fans pressing forward to catch a glimpse of their favorites. I admit it overwhelmed me as I picked my way through the line. However, when I finally made it to the cast I had a wonderful time saying a few words to each of them as I passed by. As some of you know, I was dressed as Granny for the panel, so that definitely was a talking point with the cast members.
And then as quickly as it came, my Once Upon a Time day was over. Oh, there were still cosplay photoshoots to do, and what convention is complete without a visit to Raphael Sbarge and a donation to GreenWish.com? But by the end of Saturday the Oncers’ Comic Con experience was over.
I have to say, the best part of my Once Upon a Time Comic Con experience had to be the fans. There was such a positive energy this year, whether it was from the folks gathering pins, us crazy people who camped outside, or the people who asked questions in the panel. Your tweets were awesome by the way; I loved connecting with all of you! The entire convention was a positive Once Upon a Time experience and I think that’s what made it so great and memorable. I met fans whose names I had only read online, fans I had met last year and rekindled old connections, and fans I knew from the many cons we attended together. The thing about Oncers is that we will always find each other, and when we do, magic can happen. The amazing experience of this year’s San Diego Comic Con just goes to prove it.
Ashley is a professional event planner, OUaF Forum Administrator, convention enthusiast, and resident sass master. When she's not tweeting up a storm, Ashley also finds the time to write reviews for Once Upon a Time at SpoilerTV.com. Feel free to contact her at @MitigatedText