For starters, this was my second Fandomfest and in fact my second convention ever. After experiencing it last year I had super high expectations, and in some ways this year's event delivered. In other aspects, it needed a lot of improvement. Case in point: the celebrities. Yes, we had Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia, from Star Wars, for you non-geeks), but the other two celebs from Star Wars cancelled. I get it, the convention can't control what the actors/celebs do and sometimes schedules conflict, but in reality those three plus Jay and Silent Bob were the only really big names there this year. I didn't really fangirl over anyone else. Sure, you had Kevin Nash and Reggie Jackson (who was overcharging by far for autographs!) but really, nobody else notable. We bought a photo op with the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles expecting them to be in costume and ended up with a bunch of faces we don't really know, which we are okay with but we don't really know who is who. Just based on last year's experience we kept hoping new awesome celebs were gonna be added, but instead we lost the only other two we wanted to meet. It was just disappointing, and we hope like hell next year they get better celebrities, because if we're going to spend that much money on tickets we want to meet awesome people.
Second, the layout was disorganized and just awful this year. There seemed to be no rhyme or reason to the booths, no real aisles, and people were just milling about because there was no organization. The celebrity area was disorganized and in a poor location of the room, along with the photo booths and the tables for buying photo ops. We didn't even know we had to go pre-purchase the autographs for multiple people, because there was no sign saying such and the tables just looked like they were selling stuff for the celebs. I mean, they give you this little booklet telling you where the celebs are and when photo ops/films/panels/Q&A's/etc are being held, which is 90% ads, but it's missing a lot of other information that would be helpful to first timers, out of towners, and people who are coming with expectations from previous cons.
That being said, there were some pluses. I mean, Carrie freaking Fisher! And they did have Peter Mayhew and Billie Dean Williams lined up, although they regrettably cancelled. I would've loved meeting Chewy! And Jason Mewes (Jay sans Silent Bob) is a remarkable creature. Sexy too. I can't lie, I fangirled meeting him. I bought a selfie with him, and he grabbed my phone and took not just one but several selfies. And in true Jay fashion, checked out my rack. I've never been so proud of the ladies!
Some of the booths and tables were pretty fly. Some weren't. Not a lot were trying to grab your attention, unlike last year, but it was fun to walk around and check out some of the art. Tattoo Charlie's is there giving tattoos while you wait, too, and I totally considered it, lol.
I do have to say the no refund policy is pretty crappy. It's why I don't buy tickets in advance, because a friend bought tickets for Peter Mayhew and Billie Dee Williams and the Star Wars VIP, and was out a couple hundred bucks because the venue refuses to give refunds for any reason. They basically got free money for providing no service or product whatsoever. That's a terrible policy. I mean, I still totally understand that they can't control celebrity schedules, but if someone buys tickets, photo ops, etc in advance and then someone backs out and there's no one else you want to substitute, why should you pay for a service or product you don't receive? It's not very good business, and because of that I refuse to pay for tickets for anything in advance. I'm just not willing to pay that much money for something and not have a backup plan.
Still, the cosplay and just overall number of people dressing up as their favorite characters is amazing, by the way. I've said it before and I'll say it again, I've never seen such a large gathering of genuinely happy people. Well, except the ones waiting two or more hours in line for a photo or autograph with Carrie Fisher. My god, were those lines painful!! Worth it, but painful, lol.
So, there you have it. Lots of happy people letting their geek out and just having a jolly good time. There are ups and downs, pluses and deltas, but overall a good time. It was well worth the admission price ($65 for a weekend pass) and meeting awesome celebrities is worth the cost for autographs and photo ops. You'll get your exercise in too, so I would count that as a plus too, hehe!
Overall score, 7/10. I still found it enjoyable, but be prepared for long lines, long waits, and a potentially bad setup, as well as cancellations. BUT if you have the time and the money and want a great experience, the blisters on your feet and the exhaustion of the day is worth it for the absolute fun you can have. I have faith that FandomFest 2016 will be better.