REVIEW: Wizard World Bay Area 2019

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This year’s Wizard World Bay Area convention took place last weekend in Oakland, California. Pop culture fans from all over traveled to take part in this incredible event. Though I’ve attended other pop culture conventions, this was my first time attending a Wizard World convention.

Since this was my first time attending a convention like this, I wasn’t quite sure what to really expect. However, any doubts or worries I had about it left my mind as soon as I walked inside. From collectibles to collectibles, the entire convention hall was full of various pop culture items. I felt welcomed even when I was standing in line. A convention that’s willing to create a welcoming environment has always been something I appreciate.

As with any convention, one thing people tend to dread dealing with is getting into the event. There have been events in the past that don’t make clear instructions or any actual attempt to ensure that people can get inside the venue. However, the lines at this year’s Wizard World Bay Area were well organized and efficient. Since the convention only had a will-call system, I had to pick up my badge on the day of the event. I was delighted that I had no real issues getting my pass since most lines were moving quickly with each person taking about four minutes to get theirs. There were no real difficulties throughout the three days in terms of waiting in line for too long.

It’s quite unfortunate that I’ll always be worried about attending conventions due to the increase in mass shootings in the U.S. It was only a few months ago that the Bay Area was affected by a mass shooting at the Gilroy Galic Festival.  Similarly to my experience at Crunchyroll Expo, the lines to get into the convention hall were moving fast because bags weren’t being checked thoroughly. Security just seemed to brush over my bag, waved a metal detector a few times, and let me pass. This may come off as harsh, but I want to be sure I can enjoy my time at a convention without anything happening. These type of instances shouldn’t be happening since it may leave people unsettled.

One of the main highlights from the convention was being able to attend several panels. Being able to hear stories from professional wrestlers like Kevin Nash, Honky Tonk Man, and Lisa Marie Varon about life inside and outside the ring was incredible. Having watched several of their matches either online or on live tv as I was growing up, I would’ve never imagined being able to hear them give talks in person. On top of that, being able to listen to Holly Marie Combs, Courtney Ford, and Katrina Law talk about their work within the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres was inspiring. From Arrow, Charmed, and Supernatural, these three women are trailblazers within the realm of pop culture.

I was quite surprised by the numerous activities that attendees could participate in. For one, there was a video game section where people could sign up for tournaments or just play any game. There was also a live performance done by the Armored Combat League in which they showed off actual medieval weapons. There was a stage for musical performances, which took me by surprise. Walking around the convention hall on the first day, I was unaware that there would be live music, which made me find out more special.

Performer: Starr Saunders

Another major highlight was meeting several comic book creators and artists at the convention. It’s one thing to just read a comic book and appreciate it for what it is, but meeting the creative team behind these stories is amazing. I was able to see the hard and dedication creators put into their work. For instance, the conversation I had with Bill Coulombe, writer of the Kinetic series, gave me insight into his series. I was able to understand why writing a story from the point of view of a person who thinks they can be a better hero than those that exist is a unique premise.

Overall, even though the security wasn’t prioritized, I had a blast attending this year’s Wizard World Bay Area convention. Being able to meet such incredible people and meet some of my idols was such a great experience. I will surely attend a Wizard World convention again if it ever comes back to the Bay Area.