MEGACON: A geek’s playground

For most people, Memorial Day weekends means loading the kids up in the family car and trekking to one of Orlando’s multitude of theme parks. For more than hundred thousand in Orlando this year, that weekend means one thing — MEGACON.

Comic book conventions have long been a staple in the fandom world. Beginning in the sixties with less than 100 people in attendance, many of the largest conventions of the modern era were established in the 1970s. Conventions began to spring up in almost every major American city and a few minor ones, as well as in London. Over time, conventions have expanded beyond catering to just fans of comic books. Many modern day conventions offer something for fans of all ages who love genres ranging from comics to sci-fi to gaming and more.

MEGACON is no exception. A four-day weekend at MEGACON provides a fan with the opportunity to participate in a gaming tournament, get a professional photograph or an autograph with their favorite actor or even attend panels. Panels can include question and answer sessions with celebrities, writing workshops or even how to build a working R2 unit!

By Rachel Parker

In addition, MEGACON also hosts the Exhibit Hall, where retailers showcase their latest products and vendors offer unique fandom wares, including handmade and custom items. From Victorian hats and jewelry at Mrs. Pettigrew’s and corsets and parasols from Milton’s Emporium, a cosplayer’s steampunk needs could be met at MEGACON. Custom tea blends could be found at Tea & Absinthe, and, of course, various comic books, action figures and more fandom items could be purchased at vendors.

For those not in the know, a cosplayer is someone who dresses up in costume as their favorite fictional character, whether it be a superhero such as Batman or Spider-man or even Captain America himself, or a beloved Disney character, or even something more obscure and lesser known. Cosplayers put as much attention and detail into their costumes as they want, whether it be something made from scratch that has taken them all year to prepare or something they just threw together the night before. Thousands of people in costume can be seen milling around the convention hall, and there is even a costume contest to determine which cosplayer has the best costume.

In fact, new to the MEGACON Orlando lineup this year was Master of Cosplay Grand Prix, a new cosplay competition created by FAN EXPO HQ, who run MEGACON Orlando and other conventions across the US and Canada, in 2018. Guests competed in the Southeast Qualifier at MEGACON Orlando on Saturday, May 26 for a chance to win prizes and advance to compete for the title of FAN EXPO’s very first Master of Cosplay Champion in an international finale to be held in Toronto as part of FAN EXPO Canada on Labor Day weekend.

Winners included: Novice Division – Anthony Acosta and Anne Rosato (Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen); Journeyman Division – Lindsay Premo (World of Warcraft); Masters Division – Bryan Doell (Ronan the Accuser, Marvel Comics); Runner-Up – Josh Morris (The Gate, Hex Mortis); and Best In-Show – Dovah Design (Snow White Knight).

This year’s featured celebrity guests included Elijah Wood (The Lord of the Rings); Jeff Goldblum (Jurassic Park); Jason Momoa (DC Justice League); John Cena, Alexa Bliss, Braun Strowman (WWE Superstars); Paul Reubens (Pee-Wee Herman); Billy Dee Williams and Joonas Suotamo (Star Wars); Lucy Lawless (Xena: Warrior Princess); Jodi Benson and Christopher Daniel Barnes (The Little Mermaid); Rob Liefeld (Deadpool and X-Force) among others.

Other highlights at the show included a partnership with Madame Tussauds Orlando for an exclusive first-look of the museum’s newest exhibit, Justice League™: A Call for Heroes. On Thursday, May 24, fans united at MEGACON Orlando for a sneak peek of the new Wonder Woman™ wax figure. Following this, guests were invited for an after-hours official opening of the exhibit and admission to the ICON 360 Orlando. Among the booths showcased on the show floor this year were Jurassic Park, which allowed guests to go back 25 years and relive one of the greatest movies of all time through a tour of the iconic fictional theme park. The booth included a virtual reality headset to let guests get up close and personal with dinosaurs in their natural habitat. Additionally, other classic booths, including the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman Film, Star Wars by the 501st Legion and Ghostbusters, were back for another year.

As if the many panels and photo opportunities weren’t enough to keep fans entertained, the weekend also included a signing by DC Comics creator Jim Lee, with a packed presentation from Jurassic Park’s Jeff Goldblum, more than 200 cosplayers in a special Marvel Cosplay Meetup, Geek Speed Dating, Steven Universe Live Shadowcast Performance and Sing-A-Long, Phantasmagoria Performance and so much more.

MEGACON Orlando is owned by FAN EXPO HQ, one of the largest entertainment convention groups in North America. Collectively it hosts over 500,000 fans annually at FAN EXPO CANADA™, Boston Comicon, FAN EXPO VANCOUVER™, FAN EXPO REGINA™, FAN EXPO DALLAS™, Toronto ComiCon, Dallas Fan Days and MEGACON Tampa Bay.

By Rachel Parker

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