MegaCon Tampa Bay: A Successful First Year

MegaCon Tampa Bay 2016

I’ve been to a lot of conventions, and I’ve hosted several first-year conventions. That said, MegaCon Tampa Bay was one of the best first year cons I’ve ever attended, which was honestly a pleasant surprise.

MegaCon was added to the FanExpo brand not that long ago, and after attending (and not really enjoying) MegaCon Orlando in 2013 and 2014, I have to say that this was probably the best thing that could have happened to the convention. I was a guest at MegaCon Orlando earlier this year and had a blast; I got to moderate four amazing panels, run a booth, and thanks to my lovely assistant Bekah I was also able to wander the convention floor from time to time. Everything was improved from my previous experiences – the security, the panel organization, wider aisles…I could go on and on.

MegaCon Tampa Bay 2016 Cat5 GhostbustersAgain, considering MegaCon Tampa Bay was in its first year – and considering it was only announced about five months ago – I expected some hiccups. But the thing is…there were none. (In fact, the unloading and reloading for exhibitors was far easier than at MegaCon Orlando, go figure.)

The Tampa Convention Center is clean and the layout is great. While I ran into a few questionable security guards, most were very friendly and seemed happy to be working a geek convention. There were food vendors inside *and* multiple food trucks outside. The nearby hotels were all within easy walking distance and are very nice – I stayed at the Hilton just four blocks from the convention center and the convention rate was $169/night (and more than worth it).

MegaCon Tampa Bay 2016One thing I noticed after talking to many people was that this convention attracted a lot of locals. I know that MegaCon Orlando does the same, but there were none of the usual complaints about traffic or parking issues. Again, this could be because MegaCon Tampa Bay was in its first year, but I hope not! I loved pretty much every encounter I had this past weekend and I hope they return to Tampa next year.

I was lucky enough to be on the “Cosplay for Beginners” panel on Saturday at 2 PM and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Despite being listed as a cosplay guest and of course manning my booth in cosplay every day, I mostly use my booths to promote my writing and event planning – but that doesn’t mean that I don’t have cosplay knowledge that I’m more than happy to share with anyone who asks. The panel itself almost went over the allotted time because we had so many great questions – we even had a group of young cosplayers that we invited up to the front of the room to show off their first ever cosplays – amazing ones from some of my favorite shows (like Steven Universe and Gravity Falls).

MegaCon Tampa Bay 2016 Gravity Falls Cosplay

There was also a Steven Universe cosplay meetup late Saturday afternoon, and it was, in a word, amazing. There was a Pearl cosplayer who pie’d herself in the face, two singalongs (the SU theme song and “Stronger Than You”), and of course plenty of pictures!

MegaCon Tampa Bay 2016 Steven Universe Cosplay

MegaCon Tampa Bay 2016 Steven Universe Cosplay

Considering that I had such a great day on Saturday and it was followed up by my getting to host the official after party with some of the other cosplay guests later that night, I have to say that this weekend was a huge success.

MegaCon 2016 Cosplay Guests

MegaCon Tampa Bay 2016 Cosplay Guests

Last but not least, I have to give a shout out to some of those fellow cosplay guests for being lovely booth neighbors and party hosts! Thanks again to Scarlett Rose, Marie-Claude Bourbonnais, Gothic Sushi, and Siren Croft for helping to make MegaCon Tampa Bay such a great convention!

MegaCon Tampa Bay 2016 Scarlett Rose

Hopefully I’ll have the chance to return to both MegaCon Orlando and MegaCon Tampa Bay as a guest next year…fingers crossed that they’ll return to Tampa in 2017!

Author: Tara Lynne

Tara Lynne is a fandom and geek culture expert, public speaker, and character cosplayer who is best known for her Cersei Lannister (Game of Thrones), Starbuck (Battlestar Galactica), and Andrea (The Walking Dead) cosplays. She founded Ice & Fire Con, the first ever Game of Thrones convention in the US, and now runs its parent company Saga Event Planning.

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