The first major change showing in this review that I’ll state right off is the name change. Due to the issues with San Diego Comic Con claiming a trademark on the “Comic Con” title, what was Denver Comic Con changed it’s name to Denver Pop Culture Con…. And with the name change came a lot of changes to the convention overall.
My friends, husband, and I carpooled to our hotel, the Hilton Garden Inn, Thursday afternoon so we wouldn’t have to check in during convention time and potentially have to deal with the traffic. Check-in went smoothly, like it has in the years past with this hotel. We managed to do early badge pick-up that day as well, which made picking up our badges super smooth and easy.
On Friday, we heard the lines weren’t quite as bad as last year due to multiple entrances. We all got ready in our costumes (Shindig Inara for me from Firefly), and got in one of the lines and it moved surprisingly quick to get to security. The security checks were better than last year, as they did more efficient bag and pocket checks, but people were still sneaking stuff in (gotta check all the bag pockets, lol). They waved wands over everyone to check for metal and then sent you in to get checked for badges, which if you had one, you went right on through fairly quick. This repeated any time you entered the con, which was good to see them actually practice all weekend.
Once inside, we went upstairs to the Dealer’s Hall area. Everyone was cleanly laid out which made it very easy to navigate. The Kid’s Area was off to one side, still a nice, big part of the Hall, but not obstructing walkways like last year. The Breckenridge Beer Garden set up was fantastic and a really neat idea with a little “shack” for people to go in! The food court was off to one area and had lots of choices and plenty of seating, which was awesome. Celebrity Summit had its own area and the lines were decently maintained with no one being crazy about photos being taken, as long as you weren’t sniping ones of celebrities. The prices were the normal ones for the con when it comes to photo ops and autographs, but the listed schedules for the celebrities at their tables were hardly ever correct. It made it insanely hard to plan being in line for things, so we actually chose to cut our autograph choices down to only four, one of which we got on Friday.
After checking out about half of the Dealer’s Hall in costume, we headed back to the hotel, got into normal clothes, and finished the adventure. There was a good selection of artists, vendors, and authors… However, you could tell there wasn’t nearly as much as a comics presence like years past. A lot of the creators and artists weren’t there, along with production companies, which was a bit unfortunate to see. Once we finished checking everything out, and buying a few items, we met up with friends and basically ended our con day by getting dinner, lol!
On Saturday, we waited to get into costume as I had signed up for the costume contest with my friends later in the day, and we all wanted free mobility for some more exploring of the con. We made sure to attempt autographs, but the lines for Saturday only celebrities were absolutely insane, so I just gave up on that notion. We purchased a couple more items, then went and located Lobby C, which was our area for check-in for the contest. After that, we left to get into our Brides of Dracula costumes from Van Helsing (I got to be Marishka!).
It took a bit to get into costume, but we got back to the convention in plenty of time to hang out and get photos in the downstairs open area near Lobby C before we needed to check in. After a little bit, we spoke with the information booth to see where to go to check in for the contest, and got directed to the Cosplay Panel room. We spoke to a gal there, who stated we had been in the right spot, took us back over and told us check in would begin at 4:30 p.m. instead of 5 p.m. We hung out in the area and got asked to line up across the way along a wall, then proceeded to be told all the kids had to check in first before adults. So, we waited until a little after 5 p.m., when we got checked in and proceeded to be seated in a green room with other contestants.
Now, let me pre-face the costume contest experience with what it had been the year before: Kids went out, all got swag bags, then adults went out but were separated into Novice, Intermediate, and Masters with craftsmanship judging done earlier in the day, and while judges decided, people did an unjudged catwalk to entertain the audience. Awards were quickly presented at the end with photos able to be taken easily.
The set up was similar, with staff letting all the parents and kids’ handlers know where to go and what to do. The kids went out and did their thing with all getting swag bags. Adults had been told we’d be instructed on what to do, but that never happened, so we got told last minute that we had to walk on the stage with whatever we had and exit down the stairs on the other side of the stage with 30 seconds to do whatever. It was an absolute mess, because they didn’t explain the taped out path, which if followed was perfect to pose in for the light, so most contestants went in blind. Once off stage, we could go anywhere, and received little swag bags and participation trophies, so we all sat in the audience until the end.
Let me say one thing before I continue… There were some absolutely INSANE costumes. People brought some of the best cosplays I’ve seen; we expected nothing because the amount of awesome on that stage was undeniable. People worked their butts off and you could tell! But when you have roughly sixty entries and do an Audience Favorite (who received a Plexiglass trophy) and 4 Judges’ Choice awards (which were pieces of paper), that tells me the Contest is basically… a joke to the con. You have people bringing their A-Game on all levels and reducing the time of the contest by reducing the awards was a bad call. The theatre was barely half-filled, the contest did not start at the scheduled time and ended over an hour earlier than scheduled.
This was hands-down the saddest display of a Costume Contest I’ve seen in 17 years of cosplaying. To those who competed, you were all amazing. There should have been categories, because Masters level armor next to a new person thrifting a costume as a Novice is not fair, especially at a large con boasting about the cosplayers they have attend. It was unfair to the judges to have to choose like that, and they still all made good calls; the winners of awards deserved them 100%, it just needed to be done better.
After that debacle, we closed out the night with friends and the Hard Rock After Party… Which was… interesting. It wasn’t bad but I felt it could’ve been better organized with how little space there was in the restaurant.
Sunday, we wore our X-Men costumes (I was White Phoenix!) and finished getting the last autograph and merchandise. We made sure to meet up with friends and just hang out before heading home. ❤
Overall, the convention was enjoyable. For autographs, it’s grown big enough it’s best to get a Speed Pass and not deal with the lines. The security and entry lines improved, so that was a plus. Costume coverage rules and some prop rules were more relaxed, so I enjoyed that aspect. Our hotel continued to be stellar and we loved checking out the Dealer’s Hall. I can safely say that I will not compete in their contest again, nor recommend anyone to do so, until they return to the former year’s of how it ran. It was a mess and made it an unenjoyable experience, so I’d rather enjoy other parts of the con instead. We will easily be returning to Denver Pop Culture Con in 2020!