COVID-19 Convention Updates: WonderCon, Conageddon, Dublin Comic Con


We have an absurdly long list of COVID-19 convention updates today ranging from cons we’ve been following closely, like Dublin Comic Con, to ones that weren’t on our radar before, like PaleyFest.

Let’s start with Dublin Comic Con, which was postponed in an incredibly short amount of time.  I’m not exactly surprised by this turn of events, as many other events in Dublin have been shut down including their Saint Patrick’s Day parade, but nonetheless it was a quick and jarring turn of events for the organizers and their official statement update reflects their quick turnaround.

There are 61 confirmed cases of COVID-19 on the island of Ireland, and they just experienced their first death as a result of the illness. Many other institutions in Dublin from schools to sports have also shut down in the past day or so.  I feel that the Dublin Comic Con organizers saw this coming, but still held out hope that they might slip through before things got too serious.  Sadly, that’s not the case now.

The organizers of Dublin Comic Con have stated they will reschedule for late August.  Fingers crossed that things have settled by then because, as noted in yesterday’s update, the summer convention season is now getting impacted by this as well.  If we don’t have a handle on this by summer, we are in deep trouble on a global scale.

Another convention also in Ireland, but down in Cork instead of Dublin, is also feeling the quick escalation of COVID-19’s impacts on the con circuit.  We have Kaizoku-Con, which was scheduled for April 3rd-5th, being forced to shut down as well.

Back stateside, the biggest news of the day is WonderCon.  Comic Con International released the following statement:

To protect public health and slow the rate of transmission of COVID-19, the California Department of Public Health announced a recommendation that gatherings and events of more than 250 people should either be postponed or cancelled. Comic-Con (organizer of WonderCon) will abide by this recommendation. Therefore WonderCon Anaheim, scheduled for April 10-12, 2020 in Anaheim, California, will be postponed until a later date. We will begin processing refunds in the coming days.

We continue to work closely with officials in San Diego and at this time no decision has been made regarding the rescheduling of Comic-Con slated to take place this summer; July 23-26, 2020. We urge everyone to follow the recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and your local health officials.

Comic Con International also hosts San Diego Comic-Con, which takes place during the summer.  WonderCon is basically SDCC’s sister con, so this announcement has a lot of fans of the San Diego event to sit up and take notice.  As convention impacts have now stretched into the early summer, we could hear official word on SDCC sooner rather than later.  As this is our biggest event of the year, we’ll be keeping an extremely close eye on its status as the summer gets closer.

PaleyFest, also in California, has felt the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, too.  The event scheduled to take place in Los Angeles from March 13th-22nd has been postponed to an unspecified date.  In a statement on Deadline the organizers said the following:

Based on the most recent news and out of an abundance of concern, we have made the difficult decision to postpone this year’s PaleyFest. While we were looking forward to presenting another stellar lineup of PaleyFest events, the safety of our event participants, guests, and staff is the highest priority. We are exploring options to reschedule the festival and all ticket purchases will be honored for the new dates.

Bravo to CCI, PaleyFest, and Dublin Comic Con for not only postponing or cancelling their events, but being upfront and communicative about refunds and rescheduling.  Unfortunately that brings us to a couple of events that have been less than stellar in that regard, leaving many attendees feeling left in a bit of a lurch.

First up we have SXSW, which we announced had cancelled last week.  They are refusing to issue refunds.  Technically, that is within their right to do so as it was outlined in the terms and conditions:

Any and all payments made to SXSW are not refundable for any reason, including, without limitation, failure to use Credentials due to illness, acts of God, travel-related problems, acts of terrorism, loss of employment and/or duplicate purchases.

While they are offering to defer these tickets to another SXSW event up to three years out, this experience is leaving many attendees with a bad taste in their mouths.  Technically being within their rights to do this isn’t making anyone who is out money for the event feel any better about the situation.  SXSW is a fairly expensive event, all things considered, and attendees are out a lot of money as a result.

Meanwhile, Conageddon is taking some heat for a fairly hostile email exchange with a guest who needed to cancel their ticket due to health concerns.

Conageddon, which is currently scheduled to take place April 3rd-5th in Boston, is still planning to go on without interruption.  As mentioned previously, ACE Comic Con, which is also in Boston, was forced to postpone, but somehow Conageddon isn’t being impacted by the same rules that forced ACE to close.

I’m having difficulty finding the exact regulations put in place in Boston that forced ACE to close but have thus far allowed Conageddon to continue.  If you have that information, please drop me a line. I suspect that it could be due to size, like how HaruKon managed to slip under the gathering limit in Israel, or possibly a timing issue as ACE is next weekend, but Conageddon is in April.

Regardless of the reason, the hostility that the convention has shown towards guests who have expressed concern and requested a refund has alarmed many attendees.  While, again, it’s definitely within their right to refuse a refund, that doesn’t change how it feels to be on the receiving end of such a defensive email.  I almost feel like that exchange will negatively impact their event way more than any COVID-19 closure at this point.

Back on over to a convention we’ve been tracking for a while, CinemaCon has finally been forced to cancel.  They’ve been holding out for a while and fairly insistent that the show must go on, but the situation in the United States has escalated rapidly these past few days, so it finally caught up to them.

They released the following statement

It is with great regret we are announcing the cancellation of CinemaCon 2020.

Each spring, motion picture exhibitors, distributors and industry partners from around the world meet in Las Vegas to share information and celebrate the moviegoing experience. This year, due to the travel ban from the European Union, the unique travel difficulties in many other areas of the world and other challenges presented by the Coronavirus pandemic, a significant portion of the worldwide motion picture community is not able to attend CinemaCon. While local outbreaks vary widely in severity, the global circumstances make it impossible for us to mount the show that our attendees have come to expect.

After consultation with our attendees, trade show exhibitors, sponsors, and studio presenters, NATO has decided therefore to cancel CinemaCon 2020. We look forward to continuing the 10-year tradition of presenting the largest movie theater convention in the world and joining our attendees in future celebrations of the moviegoing experience.

CinemaCon, like a lot of other conventions, seemed to want to hang on as long as possible in the hopes of having their event before things got serious.  Sadly, things are way serious now and they’re being forced to react quickly.

And over in the world of book fairs (because we can’t seem to do an update without a poor book fair getting impacted) we have Teen Book Con.  The event was scheduled for Saturday April 4th in Cypress, Texas.  The event was also scheduled to be on a high school campus, which as we’ve learned by now, is a bad combination for events in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak. 

This year’s @TeenBookCon festival has been canceled due to public health concerns around COVID-19.

We’re so grateful for all of our partners—from the Cy-Fair school district to all of the librarians, publishers, and authors—who have worked so hard to plan this event. We were thrilled with this year’s author lineup, and it breaks our hearts that we won’t be seeing you in April.

The mission of the festival is to connect young readers with authors. We no longer feel that we can safely do that at a large, in-person event. However, canceling the festival significantly affects the wonderful authors who agreed to come to town.

TeenBookCon has always been a place for authors to reach new readers and form meaningful connections. So, please—read these books! Share them widely. Follow our authors on social media.

We’re working with our publisher partners to provide signed bookplates from our TeenBookCon authors. While we can’t make any guarantees, we’ll do our best to get you a signed bookplate, while supplies last, if you order any of the books from this page:

We’re also working on a few more ways to connect these authors with you, our wonderful Houston community. Watch this space for updates in the days and weeks to come.

Finally, get ready for TeenBookCon next year. We’re already planning, and we’ll be back better than ever.

Schools are already a place of frequent mass gatherings of people on a near daily basis, so adding even more people gathering together is just a bad idea all around.  If you are heading to a con on a high school or college campus, you can almost assuredly assume it’s going to get axed soon.  And this is true of school campuses almost globally at this point.  It’s now a pandemic, after all.  

And another school based event, Kigacon, has also fallen.  Kigacon was scheduled for March 14th at the Christopher Newport University, Freeman Center in Newport News, Virginia. It was forced to close as the University has made a blanket ban on all events of a certain size on campus.

From Dublin to Boston to Anaheim, conventions are taking a big hit due to the Coronavirus pandemic.  We’ll continue to bring news as we get it as frequently as we can. 

Please keep in mind that we are doing nearly daily updates, so if news drops after an article is published, we will get to it as soon as possible either with its own article, or in the following day’s general update. For example, I heard that Planet Comiccon in Kansas City, Missouri, which is scheduled for March 20th-22nd, is supposed to announce something today, but I’m going forward with what I have now instead of waiting for their announcement.

But, as always, feel free to drop us a line if we missed something! I am, sadly, not an all-knowing oracle no matter how hard I try.

Also please keep an eye on our Coronavirus Convention & Theme Park Impacts page, which I’ll be updating daily with news.  It’ll be updated with today’s conventions as soon as possible.

Heading to a con anyway?  Watch my convention safety video and please stay healthy!

Editor’s Note (Jamie): Sure enough, not long after we published this article, Planet Comicon announced that they were postponing next week’s event. You can read the full statement on their Twitter, which includes some details about refunds, etc.

Author: Angel Wilson

Angel is the admin of The Geekiary and a geek culture commentator. They earned a BA in Film & Digital Media from UC Santa Cruz. They have contributed to various podcasts and webcasts including An Englishman in San Diego, Free to Be Radio, and Genre TV for All. They’ve also written for Friends of Comic Con and is a 2019 Hugo Award winner for contributing fanfic on AO3. They identify as queer.

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