It’s here! MegaCon Orlando, the largest fandom convention in the Southeast, starts today at the Orange County Convention Center. There’s a lot more than celebrity panels going on, though. Here are a few fun side quests you won’t want to miss.
MegaCon Orlando falls in a sweet spot when it comes to cons. It’s big enough that they can pull nerd celebrities like David Tennant, Mike Colter, and Lynda Carter but small enough that you can (usually) buy tickets at the door. The show floor offers everything from huge retailers to small press. Several fandom groups even run well-organized photo meetups where cosplayers can see and be seen.
That’s all great, and you should definitely take in some of those high-profile activities. However, while panels and photo ops may be the bread and butter of conventions, MegaCon Orlando is known for really cool side events that will be easy to miss if you sit in panels all day. Check out some of these awesome things you can do in between panels and pictures.
Try an escape room: I was surprised by how many different types of escape rooms there are on the schedule this year. Some, like “Passing Your Potions Exam” and “Medusa Saves New York”, are easy family-friendly activities. Others- I’m eyeing the “Weirder Stuff”- room- are geared towards more experienced players. These are individually ticketed, but they’re fairly reasonable compared to similar events I’ve tried.
- Explore DigiCon: Organizers are hyping The DigiCon Experience as a chance to meet and learn from popular YouTube celebrities, reality stars, and digital content creators. Since it’s new for 2019 there’s no telling how useful it will actually be, but at least a big chunk of the events are included with your MegaCon Orlando pass. There are some more in-depth events that require VIP tickets or upgrades.
- Race teacups: You read that right: teacups. The Central Florida Steampunk Association will be racing teacups several times throughout the con. Where else are you going to see this? Better yet, it’s included in the general ticket price!
- Check out custom cars: Anime Cars of the World will have different anime-themed cars in front of the entrance every day of the convention.
- Get a date: Geek Speed Dating is a regular feature at MegaCon Orlando, and it’s always fun. They offer LGBTQ and Hetero pairing sessions (real talk, it’s a little weird that LGBTQ+ peeps are mostly lumped in together, but it’s nice to see the effort). It’s free to play, though you have to sign up onsite and it’s only for ages 18 and up.
- Learn how to make things: There’s two ways you could do this.
- First, you have group tutorials, like the mold-making demo Reynolds Advanced Materials are running. Another demo promises to teach new crafters how to make an actual life-sized Dalek. Those are great ways to expose yourself to techniques you’d have to Google otherwise.
- If you want to be more hands-on, there are make-and-take workshops with very low entry fees. I’m looking at one on Friday where they’re making a leather bracer.
- Visit a maid cafe: Maid Café Mikkusu is an Akihabara style maid cafe close to those you might find in Japan. There’s going to be tea and pastry, a stage show, games, and an as-yet-unspecified present for each guest. A word of warning: you’ll need a ticket for this and they’re going fast.
- Play game shows: Technically these are panels, but because they’re not the “celebrity Q&A” type newcomers tend to skip over them. Don’t! You might get picked to help play, and there are often comic celebrities or reality stars there. For example, “Marvel’s Draw Down!” on Saturday features Donny Cates, Alitha E. Martinez, Matthew Rosenberg, and Ryan Stegman.
- Sing in a huge group of nerds: If you’ve never been to a group sing-a-long at a convention, this is your chance to fix that. There are a couple throughout the convention, but I’m going to recommend “Dr. Horrible’s Sing-A-Long Picture Show” at 12:15 on Saturday. This is the one. Tell your friends.
- Party: There are so many parties around MegaCon Orlando. Here are a few official ones:
- Tonight (Thursday): The Official Kick-off party starts at 8pm at ICEBAR Orlando. Wear sleeves (or don’t, I’m not your boss).
- Friday: There’s an after party at 3NINE on I-Drive. It’s being called the “Enchantment Under The Sea” Dance which honestly sounds like a high school prom theme, but 3NINE is generally a chill place with a pool so it’s probably going to be fine.
- Saturday: ICON Park is the site for the 10th Annual Official MegaCon After Party. If you’re not local, it’s a massive carnival-like venue with restaurants, an aquarium, and even a 400′ Ferris Wheel.
If you’re into cosplay, put something else on your list. MegaCon Orlando is hosting the Southeast Qualifier for the Fan Expo’s Masters of Cosplay Grand Prix. Expect some truly awesome cosplay here since people are trying to get the finals in Canada. It’s too late to sign up for the regional qualifier, but there is a walk-on contest if you still want to walk the red carpet.
These might be some quirky highlights, but it’s not even close to everything the con has to offer. There’s something for every kind of nerd here. Go through the schedule online, and don’t be afraid to mark up a program when you pick up your ticket.
One last tip: order your tickets online to make pick-up easier or you’re going to be in the longest line on site.
Khai is a writer, anthropologist, and games enthusiast. She is co-editor (alongside Alex DeCampi) of and contributor to “True War Stories”, a comic anthology being published by Z2 Comics. When she’s not writing or creating games, Khai likes to run more tabletop RPGs than one person should reasonably juggle.
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