Awesome Con in D.C. Not So Awesome for ‘Doctor Who’ Fans

Washington, DC had an event over the weekend, Awesome Con, and it is getting VERY mixed reviews. There seems to be little middle ground on this convention; it was a love it or hate it.

All conventions have issues, however for this con all of the issues seem to be focused around the panels and guest signings. Mainly the one involving the cast of Doctor Who. Awesome Con got way more than they bargained for when they signed on the big names like Peter Capaldi, John Barrowman and Jenna Coleman.

DC_Jenna_Coleman_Post-1 (600x222)They were only at Awesome Con for one day of the convention and the crowds poured in to see them. Unfortunately it was way more people than they expected and as a result, schedules and rooms were changed in an attempt to accommodate more. This only led to more confusion. It didn’t help that most of the staff, who are mostly volunteers, didn’t know what was going on.

People paid big money and stood in line for hours with not even a glimpse of their favorite stars. The whole issue was only made worse by company that was handling photo ops, as they continued to sell photo ops despite the fact that they were already overbooked.

Very few of the attendees that came to see the Doctor Who actors appear to have left happyDC_Peter_Capaldi_Post (600x222)

“…I waited 4.5 hrs for the Capaldi and Coleman panel (it was two hrs late) and it was cut short….”Tasheena Rose Pautsch

“…This has been the worst con I’ve been to. The staff and volunteers were horrible with information. I only came for Peter Capaldi and it was a cluster. The panel didn’t start for almost 2hrs! And then it was cut short…”- Erley Tilus

“…That was total absolute bullcrap! Had people stuck in Hall D for over 2 1/2 hours not to mention time spent in line just to have them come out for only 25 minutes!!!!…”Mary Katz

DC_John_Barrowman_Post-1 (600x222)The organizers are more than aware of the problems and have issued an apology on their Facebook page.

Hi, this is Ben Penrod, founder of Awesome Con. Awesome Con 2016 wrapped last night, and after a year of planning, we welcomed more fans, more guests, and more features than ever before. From Kevin Smith, to StarTalk with Bill Nye and Eugene Mirman, to the Science Fair presented by Science Channel, to the Backlot, to Destination America, we had a lot of firsts and a lot of awesome memories, and I want to thank everyone – from our fans, to our guests, to our exhibitors, to our volunteers, to all the staff at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center.
Yesterday, we welcomed Doctor Who’s Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman – and while we anticipated a massive turnout, the volume of fans exceeded all our expectations.

From within the first hour of Sunday, we knew the plan we made going into the show wasn’t going to work, and I apologize for that. We were unprepared, and I own that mistake.

We issued line tickets because we didn’t want fans to wait eight hours and not meet Mr. Capaldi and Ms. Coleman. We changed times and locations for their panel and signing to accommodate as many fans as possible. We could have done a better job of communicating the changing plans to the fans, and I own that as well.

At the end of the day, Mr. Capaldi and Ms. Coleman met everyone who received autograph tickets and the VIPs who were able to stay. We know a lot of people stayed late, and we know a lot of people weren’t happy, and I apologize for that.

I want to thank all our fans for their passion and their patience, I want to thank all our volunteers who were our front line in communicating our changes, and I want to thank Peter Capaldi and Jenna Coleman for their graciousness and willingness to extend their time.

If you had a Doctor Who VIP ticket or a Capaldi or Coleman autograph or photo op ticket and weren’t able to get an autograph or photo, tell me at [email protected] and we’ll make it right.

I started Awesome Con four years ago, we’ve grown by leaps and bounds, and this year was an important year for us, both in what went right and what didn’t, and learning from this year will change how Awesome Con grows in the future. We don’t make the same mistakes twice. I’m sorry for Sunday’s frustrations, and I won’t let it happen again. We will be better next year. Period.

Please tell me about your experience this year – what you liked, what you didn’t, and what we can do better. Write me at [email protected] I want Awesome Con to be an awesome experience for everyone. And I want you to be part of it.

jeremy holloway (435x519)

Unfortunately these are issues that a four-year-old con should already be aware of and prepared to handle. They have had big names before, they have even had Doctor Who before. The big difference this year was that they had the current Doctor and his most recent companion.

However, it seems that if you didn’t want to see the Doctor Who crowd, it was great with only a few minor hiccups.

According to many, the crowds were almost overwhelming. On Sunday, they ran out of programs, an issue I’m told that they also had last year and would have been an easy fix, just plan extra programs.

Other issues I’ve seen involved the usual collection of complaints that weren’t truly related to the convention, such as food prices and access to wheelchairs.

But just to be fair, there were plenty of people who enjoyed the con. This was the first large scale con a friend of mine had gone to and they had a blast. They went to the con with no prior expectations and were not disappointed.

“…I had a great time this weekend…”Casey Jett

“…all things considered, I had a great time. AND I GOT TO MEET A DOCTOR WHO!!!…”Baron Samedi

“…Thank you so much for a fantastic convention! This was my second year attending, and both years have been so much fun!…”Chessa G. Heg

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1 Comment

  1. I am a BIG fan of Doctor Who and I was among those stuck in the lines and the panel crowd. I was very disappointed in the con and it put a rather sour punctuation on the end of an otherwise great weekend (I attended all three days). I can easily appreciate the outrage and how something like this would, could and should have been avoided. I’d have been livid if I hadn’t already spent two days enjoying the other parts of the exhibit hall and attending other panels.

    That said, I’m also a pretty big fan of Awesome Con. I believe them when they say that they will learn from their mistakes (the difference between 2014 and 2015, regarding the entry lines, for example, was like night and day). The “Power, Control and Jessica Jones” panel was fantastic, as was the “Being Short” and “The Hero’s Journey” panels (both about writing). The “Backlot” section was a nice new addition to the exhibit hall and, as ever, the artwork and souvenirs were hard to resist (I went home with a print from ModHero, myself). Long story short: in spite of the fiasco, it was not enough to dissuade me from going back next year. I hope others will, too.

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