Fan conventions: worth it?

I’m thinking about going to this Witching Hour Harry Potter convention/academic conference-type thing, and the way I have it figured, with travel/hotel/meal costs plus the con itself, the price of going for two days will be about $900.

Now, I’m a poor college student, but I’m also a geeky one. I’ve got about $2000 in the bank that I won on a game show, and I’ve always been one to favor good memories and experiences over cash in hand.

To those of you who have been/go to cons: what’s the lowdown? Is a $100 registration fee worth it for two days? I get that the big appeal is in meeting/hanging out with like-minded people, but I’m trying to get a clearer picture of how they work, I guess?

Does anyone have any good or bad con experiences to share? Any words of advice from an experienced con-goer? I’m trying to get as much information as I can before I make my decision.

I am not familiar with any of the Potter filk, since I refuse to read the books, but generalizing from years of attending SciFi and Comic conventions:

The bigger, the better. I don’t bother attending the LA SF conventions any more, because they are too small for the money. But we are hosting WorldCon in 2006, and that I will attend all days. Huge, it is. Lots to do/see/buy. I also make it a point to attend Comic-Con in San Diego every year, for the same reasons. That sucker is fraking huge! And Hollywood sends down sneak peaks, stars, authors, etc. to fill out the panels.

Witching Hour seems to have a selection of panels, some interesting guests, and such. Is this the first year for them? If so, be wary. A lot of new cons are just that…cons. But if they are established, then go for it. I’ll bet it will be worth your money. On that note, try volunteering for the con. That will get you in free, and let you see the insides.

I am not a Harry Potter fan, but I’ve been to numerous science fiction and fantasy cons, and I’ve always had a great time. I urge you to go for it!

I do have one caveat: if you buy any merchandise, be careful of thieves. Much as one might like to think that only nice people go to cons, there are usually a few rotten folks who will snatch unguarded packages or purses. I learned this the hard way after having bought a beautiful piece of Star Trek jewelry. Less than an hour after I bought it, I sat down at a lunch table and placed my parcel nearby. I turned my head away to talk to someone, and when I looked back, the little bag containing my lovely jewelry was gone.

Depends on the convention. If it’s run by fans, and they have a full slate of programming (i.e., at least two tracks, plus art, etc.) it should be fun. I see this one has a pretty good guest list (I’d love to find out how they got Charles De Lint; we’ve been trying to get him for a long time).

If it’s just a dealer’s room, stay away.

Dragoncon is a major trip. So much weirdness, so much fun. I think it comes because it is attended by a mix of SF and fantasy fans, goths and generic party people who just like the vibes. I have never been much of a fan, but if the Potter thing turns out anything like Dragoncon, it’ll be tons of fun. Prolly won’t though.

My family has gone to a number of Buffy-oriented conventions, including a Vulkon in Cleveland where my one year-old daughter got her Barney signed by James Marsters (Spike) and played peek-a-boo with Iyari Limon (Kennedy), who then told us that she was the most precious little girl she had ever seen. Of course, I gained a lot more respect for the Kennedy character right after that. :wink:

This September, I treated Laura to a $500 gold pass to another Buffy convention - this one with Giles, Harmony, and a few other cast members. With the pass, she will be able to go to everything - the opening cocktail party, press stuff, an awards dinner and banquet Saturday night, 3 autographs per star, what have you. We could afford it because the convention is happening in our home town (Knoxville, for those of you who would be interested) and my line of reasoning is that if she/we travelled, we’d end up spending at least that much if not more, so why not go whole hog?

I’m not going - I like the show and all that, but I’m more interested in making sure my wife (the true Buffy fan in the house) gets to have the full Con experience, especially as Buffy-specific conventions will likely be rarer and rarer as time goes on. Luckily she will be able to bring Sophie (now three) with her w/o having to buy another pass.

I’ve been going to the local SF con for years and it’s been worth every penny, although we’re talking closer to $30 than $100 for the weekend.

I’m a rather geeky, solitary type by nature and meeting people doesn’t come easily to me, so I went to one when I first moved back to town. I found good, interesting, diverse conversation and had a blast. A few years later, I found myself talking with a writer and his best friend and going out to dinner with them and a mob of other people. I remember a glorious evening filled with outrageous puns and stories, and laughter. At one point, a table near us was celebrating a birthday. We serenaded them with a birthday song, the Volga Birthday Song, I think, and, when they applauded, I pulled off my hat and someone else sent it around the other table. I got my hat back. Several years later, that writer is one of the finest friends I have (I’ve referred to him several times on this board), and he and his buddy talked me into joining Mensa. That’s where I met the gentleman I’ve been seeing for the past year and a half and am absolutely crazy about.

In short, I’ve got fascinating conversation about interesting ideas, good hugs, wonderful friends, and even, indirectly, something approximating True Love out of going to SF cons. You’d better believe I think it’s worth it! :wink:

I’d say you got your 30 bucks worth.

Fan-run conventions are great! – discussions, actibvities, films, singing and gaming. Great exercise for the mind. I’ve been on panels and given talks at the last four or five Arisia conventions I’ve been to.

Heck, I met Pepper Mill at a NorEasCon.

But avoid non-fan-run cons like the plague, unless your goal is simply to see the actors/writer/artists or to buy licensed merchandise. Pepper and I went to a Creation Star Trek Con, and it was the pits. Everything in one big auditorium. No films (just “music videos” they’d put together. No discussion panels. No substantive talks by the guests of honor. Only sanctioned dealers approved by the film company. Rotten food. We left before Jimmy Doohn even came on stage.

Awesome. It sounds like fan-run cons (which this is) are the way to go, and that the experience-ness part of the experience is worth it – I think, I think I’m going to pony up for it. Plus, I really like the academic-style presentation/panel schedule.

Of course, three seconds later I go “Tray, are you CRAZY?” and look at my bank account balance. Then it’s back to looking up flight plans and fantasizing about all the cool people I’m going to meet there and the crazy fun I’m going to have.