Florida Supercon; It was the best of cons, it was the worst of cons

This past weekend, more than 40,000 crazed fans flocked to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center to pay tribute to their idols, show off their newest costumes, or just have fun taking in the scenery at what can best be described as a shopping emporium and fashion show for comic enthusiasts at the 12th Annual Florida Supercon.

It was our plan to travel down on Saturday to enjoy the afternoon, and possibly return Sunday for more fun. However, as many attendees to the event quickly came to realize, getting there wasn’t as easy as it should have been.

Mike Bragel of the Saber Legion and his slightly more lifeless “friend” Bob! With Ruthmarie Mir Er Haut peeking from behind the table.

Our first trip to the convention wasn’t a smooth ride, to say the least. We started the trek down about 12:45 pm on Saturday afternoon, with the hopes that we’d arrive just in time for the Saber Legion demonstration at 2 pm. Given that our initial starting point was less than 40 minutes away, that shouldn’t have been an issue. Shouldn’t have been!

We arrived at the State Road 84 gate a little before 1:30 p.m. Traffic gets slower on rainy days, but we were less than .7 miles from the parking lot, and normally getting into the lot is easier if you come up from the south. Unfortunately, once we got to the security gate, we were told that the parking lot was full, and we’d have to make a U-turn and travel to 17th street, where additional parking was available.

After thirty minutes, we’d moved less than .2 miles. We then attempted to try a different route, going to Andrews and north to 17th Street. We observed costumed characters all along the road, some walking miles in 95 degree weather! After not having any luck parking, we turned towards home to try again on Sunday.

Thankfully, Kyle and his family from View From the Cheap Seats did have the patience to battle the traffic and make it to the convention on Saturday, and was nice enough to allow us to post his video blog from the 12th annual Florida Supercon.

At 8 am on Sunday, we once again trekked down to the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center. This time, the traffic was light, and we got right to the parking garage by 9:00 am, got checked in by 9:10 am, and then enjoyed an overpriced breakfast while waiting for the doors to open. At 10:30 am, the assembled masses flooded onto the convention floor!

To be honest, this was only our third “comic con,” as it were, and as such we didn’t quite know what to expect. Honestly, it was overwhelming. With hundreds of vendors, thousands of guests, and more celebrities than you could shake a stick at, it was easy to lose track of time and of what was going on. In addition to the expo floor, there were dozens of classes, auctions, movie reviews, and more taking place.

The number of booths was insane, with people selling everything from unique artwork to comic books, graphic novels to swords, and pretty much every other sort of trinket you can think of in the world of sci-fi and comic lore.  As Mike Bragel, representing the Saber Legion, stated, you could spend all your money if you aren’t careful! However, the fact that the ATM was out of order in the convention center made recharging your wallet a bit more of a challenge. Thank goodness for credit cards!

Jed getting final touchups done by makeup artist Milene Miranda.

If you didn’t come with a full plan of what to do when, you’d be lost. Heck, it took us just over 3 hours to simply peruse the vendors, and 2 more to check back and do some shopping. We also took a few moments to visit with our friends from Enigma Haunt, who are getting ready for their first open audition of the season. Are you feeling spooky?

We know that this was the first year that the Florida Supercon was held at the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention Center after many years in Miami. That being said, they should have been more prepared for the crowd that showed up. With the event being held in the heat of the summer, in a location where people want to be, the coordination between the police and event organizers was lackluster to say the least. They also didn’t have adequate signage, at least on Saturday, to let attendees know where to park and how to detour to avoid traffic tie-ups.

There are many reasons why this particular convention didn’t go as planned, but perhaps the reason it was so busy is a general feeling amongst many Gen X’ers that although the internet economy is great, seeing the actual merchandise and meeting the content creators is pretty cool, too!

We are already looking forward to next year’s event, July 12-15, 2018, and hope to see many more amazing demonstrations, cosplay people, and merchandise that makes every geek, nerd, and dweeb drool! For more pictures from the convention, be sure to check out our Instagram page.

Stay tuned for follow-ups from some of the participants in the Florida Supercon, including interviews with comic books artists, members of the 501st, and more.