(PCM) We have returned home for quite a hectic weekend attending Walker Stalker Con 2014 which was held at the Meadowlands Exposition Center in Secaucus, NJ. To say that everything went off with out a hitch would be an outright lie, but I can say that there was a fairly healthy balance to the pros and cons of attending this particular fan convention.
One thing that everyone involved with putting together Walker Stalker Con needs to keep in mind is to never underestimate the veracity and fervor of Walking Dead fans. They are some of the most devoted fans I have ever witnessed and they are undoubtly the reason that The Walking Dead has become just so insanely popular. The turnout for Walker Stalker Con NY/NJ was insane and it was quite obvious that those in charge were ill-prepared to deal with such a massive amount of attendees.
My advice to those who put Walker Stalker Con together would be to without a doubt look into moving the convention into a bigger venue in the New York or New Jersey area the next time around. While the Meadowlands Exposition Center is a nice venue, it just did not have what it takes to contain the overwhelming amount of people who turned out for this event.
In fact at one point, only about an hour after the doors opened the fire marshal had to step in and shut things down for a few hours as the building was way over capacity and the Con was ridiculously oversold. Fans who purchased tickets, both VIP and General Admission, who attempted to step back outside the Expo Center for some fresh air or grab a bit to eat were furious when they were told due to the fire marshals orders they were not allowed to reenter the building until some of the crowds began to dissipate.
You can only imagine the frustration for these individuals, some of who spent upwards of $300 to $400 dollars for both autographs and photo ops, as well as, VIP credentials to be turned away when attempting to re-enter the convention. Needless to say, we witnessed quite a few choice words being tossed around outside, as many, ourselves included, were forced to stand out in the freezing cold for about an hour or two. Many of the volunteers working the Con had absolutely no clue what was going on and were consistently giving people wrong information.
In fact, we have to note that we have never been to a convention where we’ve witnessed more volunteers taking selfies and cell phone shots with the talent than this one. In our opinion this is a tad bit unprofessional, as they appeared to be behaving more like fans rather than professionals working an event whose job it is to be sure that the event runs smoothly. Not to say that the hard working volunteers don’t deserve some time to grab a pic or two with their favorite talent, we ourselves as media have plenty of snaps with various celebs, but there is a time and place which is most certainly not in the middle of all the chaos while the event is running full swing.
We certainly keep in mind that Walker Stalker Con is only one year old, so of course there are going to be growing pains along the way which we are sure the organizers will have worked out by the time Walker Stalker Con 2015 rolls around.
Once inside the convention things began to smooth out quite a bit and it was incredible to see so many zombie, horror, and sci-fi fans all gathered together in one place. Despite some of my nit picky criticisms about the organization for both the autograph/meet&greet lines and witnessing a slew of VIPs not getting anything close to the experience they were promised, the talent and their incredible demeanor certainly made everyone way more forgiving.
Actor Norman Reedus of The Walking Dead certainly drew in Walker Stalker Cons longest lines of the day, along with present and past cast mates such as Steven Yuen, David Morrissey and Emily Kinney having fairly large draws as well. Walker Stalker Con is a convention that was funded by fans for fans and it was a beautiful to witness the reactions of fans as they were able to meet and interact with so many of their favorite actors and actresses in such an up close and personal way. We can’t tell you how many tears of joy we saw streaming down the faces of fans after these encounters and they surely created memories that will last a lifetime.
It was also wonderful to see a cast of individuals who are certainly willing to go above and beyond for their fans. Many of the celebs in attendance took no breaks signing autographs and posing for photos with the thousands of fans in attendance to be sure that everyone got the experience of a lifetime. Being there since around 9am, many of the actors did not leave the convention center until nearly 10pm that night! If that doesn’t speak volumes for the type of people that make up this cast than I don’t know what can…just an amazing group of people.
We can say that the organizers of Walker Stalker Con did a fantastic job of booking talent that does not often appear at many of the other conventions held throughout the country, so fans were able to get a lot of bang for their buck in being able to meet nearly the entire cast of The Walking Dead, past and present. It was also wonderful to meet and interact with cast from George Romero’s “Night Of The Living Dead” film franchises, as well as, AMC’s Comic Book Men with a surprise appearance by Brian “Q” Quinn of Impractical Jokers, and of course the lovely Mike and Evan from Science Channels Oddities.
The next Walker Stalker Con will be taking place in San Francisco at the Fort Mason Center on January 30 through February 1st 2015. It is our hope that organizers will look into the many comments and concerns from attendees in order to make Walker Stalker Con the very best it can be for years to come.