It started early, with a 6 am wake-up call and a nap on the subway, as I endeavoured to snag a good seat at Nathan Fillion’s Q&A. Twitter had informed me that the line had already stretched down the road at 8 am, so I was pretty surprised to find that it was non-existent when I arrived half an hour later. Turns out everyone had been moved inside North Building, and there was no specific line for the Q&A that I could find, which wasn’t exactly the best idea.
When the con opened at 9:30, it was a free-for-all, with attendees rushing to make it down the three escalators to Constitution Hall. It was not a fair system for those who’d sacrificed sleep to line up three hours early, and conversations around me ranged from excited squeals to unhappy rumblings about the logistics.
Once Fillion stepped out, however, the tension in the air dissipated almost immediately. I live-tweeted most of the Q&A, compiled in this handy Storify, and despite my thumbs aching from typing, I absolutely loved the entire hour. Fillion was a lively panelist, comfortable enough to run the Q&A almost single-handedly (InnerSPACE host Teddy Wilson got to sit back and relax for most of it). But if I had to pick the best moment, it would be when a woman invited Fillion to her wedding, as she and her fiancé had fallen in love while watching the show.
When the hour ended, I headed out to walk the floor before the Marvel panel in South Building, and this is when I discovered that even a two-hour gap between panels might not be enough time. Walking from North to South Building alone took me half an hour, as the crowds had swelled while I was ensconced in Constitution Hall. By the time I made it down to the floor, the lines were inching along, and I was dizzy from the heat and lack of breathing room.
I took refuge in the fairly empty Showcase booth, a decision that my already-dying phone thanked me for. Within minutes, I learned that several Showcase stars were due to arrive for an autograph session, and I found myself with a front-row seat due to my position at the phone charging station. I’ll admit that I watch very few Showcase series, and I only recognized Lucas Bryant (Haven) and Anna Silk (Lost Girl) when they took the stage.
At the time, I was standing near another girl, who had been snapping photos of Lucas since he arrived. A few minutes later, he leaned over the table and handed her a signed postcard–it turns out he’d heard her tell someone else that he was her favourite actor, and he wanted to give her something even though she wasn’t in line. It was one of the most heartwarming con moments I’ve ever had the privilege to witness.
Finally feeling somewhat more human, I left the South Building to find the line for the Doctor Who Special Presentation. I wasn’t surprised to find a mob of people milling about the lobby, confused about where to go. I feel confident in saying that this presentation was one of, if not the most, popular panels of the convention, and the lack of information/organization was not impressive. There were no signs or staff members relaying even a general area that attendees could wait in, and the crowd only got bigger by the minute.
When they finally did announce that a line would be forming outside, it was again every man and woman for themselves, and we ended up standing against the posters lining the front side of the MTCC.
Fun fact: those posters are actually fire exit doors.
My compatriots in line and I found that out the hard way, with attendees coming down from the upper levels and shoving them open. There was no fire, and I had seen volunteers stationed at the stairs on the upper levels–I’m assuming that they were there to dissuade people from exiting the building that way.
The lines functioned much better once we were inside the building again, with volunteers and security giving clear directions to enter Constitution Hall. Matt Smith and Arthur Darvill entered at precisely 7:05 p.m. to loud cheers and the Q&A (hosted by InnerSPACE’s Teddy Wilson and Ajay Fry) began.
Was the panel ultimately worth standing in line for two hours and getting hit in the head? Sadly, no. Living in Toronto made it easy for me to get to the con–I don’t know that I would have felt as driven to attend if I lived out of town. Many of the questions were ones I had heard asked in other conventions, and while it was hilarious hearing Matt and Arthur do silly things like sing Bohemian Rhapsody live, I think I was just too exhausted to really feel the same level of excitement as everyone else in the room.
I left the convention at 7:45 p.m., feeling like a youma tried to steal my star seed, and hoping that Sunday would be a bit more relaxing. While the crowds had definitely thinned out late Sunday morning, I was in the early stages of con crud, and only managed to make it to North Building before realizing that another two-hour line would exacerbate my symptoms. And so I bid an early goodbye to Fan Expo 2014 with some cute new art prints to soothe my tired head.