by Ashley Benson - @MitigatedText
In the beginning of May, hundreds of die-hard Oncers gathered in Schaumburg IL to participate in one of the first licensed Once Upon a Time conventions in the US. The guest list boasted an impressive lineup and the entire affair was watched over by Grumpy himself as Lee Arenberg served as Master of Ceremonies. This event is still fairly new and there are some kinks to be worked out, but it was exciting to see so many fans in one place for one purpose. Many of the attendees I spoke with told me this was their first con and I hope Creation Entertainment’s event served as a gateway to the con world for many fans.
The weekend was a short one with the convention only spanning over two days, so the schedule was jam-packed. However, if you didn’t purchase one of the top tier ticket packages you did find yourself with more downtime. I used this time to hang out with fellow con attendees, which I have to say was my favorite part of the weekend. It was like a reunion of familiar faces and some new ones too since many internet acquaintances made the trip for this convention.
The vendor’s area was small but well supplied for this event, though its placement in the con layout was a bit inconvenient as it created a bottle neck. Also, since this is a licensed con, no fan artists or fan vendors offering Once Upon a Time merch were invited. There is a huge opportunity missed here since we all know there are so many talented artists who make things related to Once Upon a Time that the fans would be sure to enjoy.
Creation Entertainment’s event was based around the guest panels which were Q and A sessions involving the actors and the fans. It was fun to hear Sean Maguire, Tony Amendola, and many others interact with the attendees and share stories or their own thoughts on acting, Once Upon a Time, and social media. Other events that took place in the panel room were costume contests, auctions for Once Upon a Time banners, and the Saturday Night Cabaret. That last event was an experience, to say the least. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen Smee rock the microphone with Grumpy accompanying him on the bongos.
Master of Ceremonies Lee Arenberg rocks the mic.
Aside from the panel events, there were also photo ops and autographs available for purchase. Again, this is where life became a bit easier for those who spend the money on the ticket packages. You could purchase some photo ops and autographs on site, but priority went to the Gold, Silver, and Copper ticket holders. And this is where things got a little hairy. At other cons that have a wider focus, guests sign at their booths throughout the day, so their schedules are more relaxed. However, since our Once Upon a Time guests were needed at panels or were only available one day out of the con, the lines and wait for their autographs were extremely long. Some attendees had to wait upwards of three to four hours to get Lana Parrilla’s or Rebecca Mader’s autograph. When I left to attend the Once Upon a Time Rock Opera event, a huge amount of fans were still waiting. The high demand seemed to create a stressful environment for both the actors and the fans as the process became rushed towards the end to accommodate everyone. Everyone did remain in good spirits and a huge shout out has to go to the volunteers and actor’s agents for helping make the best of this situation. In the future, Creation Entertainment should either schedule more frequent autograph times or have the actors in the most popular demand appear on more than one day.
While my experience with the convention was quite positive, I will say that this is the kind of event that you have to pay to play. You’ll get the most out of it in regards to access if you are willing to spend the few hundred dollars for a pass. This might not be in everyone’s budget and you won’t get the face time with the actors that you might if you visit their tables at DragonCon or Emerald City Comic Con, so that is something to bear in mind. So in the end, my advice is if you can afford the higher tier ticket packages, by all means go for it, but if you are only planning on attending as a general attendee don’t expect to get too much.
Fan support from every hood.
One strong impression I left “Creation Entertainment Presents: Once Upon a Time” with was the positive attitude from all the attendees. There was no drama in the panels, no fights, and no mean tweets. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves, acted like a community, and celebrated Once Upon a Time. That’s the most important thing any fan can get out of an event like this.
Image Credits: Ashley Benson