After a year, Aki Con is back in full swing at its new venue, DoubleTree by Hilton Seatac Airport Hotel, a distinct difference from the past year’s venue. Carrying its tradition, the convention is fully decorated with cutout boards, cityscape decorations, and miscellaneous items to deck out the convention space. For those who missed this convention, let us share with you our experience.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Anyone who has attended previous Aki Cons could tell you that the previous year’s venue was a tremendous disappointment, especially for those who signed up for the Artist Alley. This year, to brush off that bad experience, Aki Con relocated to DoubleTree, a much larger venue with a decently sized square footage, allowing attendees to roam around without feeling too cramped, for the most part. Being an airport hotel, it is conveniently located within walking distance from a few restaurants, providing a variety of food options, which helped spread out the rush during meal time. There were still some extended wait time depending on when and where you eat, but for the most part you got your food rather quickly, or at the very least, you are seated. Though, while the venue is decently better than previous year’s, one downside for drivers is that parking is not free. All parking space on the hotel property is either valet or paid parking, so prepare to pay the event parking fee. At $12 for all day, it is actually comparable to other conventions held at downtown Seattle, but it still remains a distinct price hike from free.
The convention arrangement is decently spaced out, utilizing two floors and many large rooms to spread out the crowd. This year Aki Con ramped up their “Cosplay Hall” with a few more sets, in addition to many cut-out boards placed all around convention space. The registration booth is distinctively placed right between the main lobby and the convention area. The high visibility makes it hard to miss, though now the hallway is 50% smaller and did create occasional traffic.
Water stations are aplenty around the convention area, and they seemed to be very well stocked 100% of the time. Kudos for paying attention to this little but much appreciated detail.
Most 1st floor rooms are plentifully large so there is no noticeable space issue, though it becomes apparent when you visit Artist Alley, of which was split into 3 small rooms with paths only 2-person wide. Considering there are 4 game rooms right across the AA with much less foot traffic, it would be more strategically sound to dedicate one more game room to AA to spread out the load.
What’s a convention report to photographers if we don’t talk about available space for photo-shoots? As a start, there really isn’t any nearby place to do photo-shoots outside of the hotel property. The hotel itself is full of hotel-looking areas: couches, stairs, and long hallways. Like many hotels, there is a pool available, and there are two small courtyards that many photographer attendees have used to do photo-shoots. One interesting place to check out is the underground that connects to two previously mentioned courtyards, but overall there isn’t too much of a variety as far as photo-shoot location goes; so you are working with limited space, competing with other photographers, and the possibility of distracting background.
I attended the convention with a clear goal to execute my personal Faces of Cosplay project, so the majority of my time was spent at the booth off to the side of the main hall. I had the opportunity to meet and hangout with a few cosplayer guests such as FantasyNinja, rebelliousDante, Living Dead Girls, Rikkugrape, Spicy-Seasoning, and Blue Bow Space. There were a few panels that I attended, and they received generally positive feedback.
For those in the know, Aki Con’s nickname is “chill con”, and it didn’t earn it for no reason. The staff are very down to earth and understanding of the con scene; there are obviously rules and limitations, but not without solid reasons. There were even a few occasions that I thought the attendees had crossed the line, but if it’s cool with the organizers, well, it is cool!
Overall, I would recommend Aki Con for people to meet and hangout with friends. Its relaxed and cozy atmosphere are what made this convention enjoyable, and in a way, acts as a con that perfectly closes the “convention season” for the year in the Pacific Northwest.
Now that you have read our take, how did you enjoy the convention? Share with us your experience in the comment section below!